Can Americans Travel To Cuba? Everything You Need To Know Before You Go
The travel of U.S citizens to Cuba has always been a confusing and messy topic. Requirements seem to change quite often, so the question stands. Can Americans travel to Cuba? The short answer is yes, but there are many requirements each American must meet before, during and after their trip to Cuba.
Cuba is an amazing country full of history, culture and very kind people. the requirements to travel to Cuba shouldn’t deter you from making the trip. Once you know everything that is required, it will be smooth sailing. So, here are all of the requirements for Americans traveling to Cuba.
Can Americans fly directly into cuba?
Yes, there are direct flights to Cuba from airports like Miami, New York, Atlanta and more. You will need a valid passport to enter the country. It is also possible to fly into Cuba from places like Cancun, Mexico or Ontario, Canada. If you decide to do this you will not need to obtain a Visa, but you will need a tourist card, which I will explain below!
Tourist Cards and Visas
You are required to obtain a tourist card to enter Cuba. This card is valid for single entry and allows you to stay in Cuba for up to 30 days. These are easily obtained either at the airport upon your arrival or through your airline. Americans will receive a pink tourist card, while other countries will receive a green tourist card. If you enter Cuba from a different country, but you are American you will still get the green card.
If you are flying directly from America, you will also need to obtain a Visa from one of the 12 categories of authorized travel.
12 CATEGORIES OF AUTHORIZED TRAVEL
As an American traveling to Cuba, you must fit into one of these 12 travel categories. The categories are based on the honor system and require no license or the need to carry a document around with you while in Cuba. But, it is imperative that you keep a record of your spending for five years after your trip and a detailed schedule of your activities that show you stayed within your category.
the 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba
- Family visits
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research and professional meetings
- People-to-people educational activities
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
- Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.
which Category should you choose?
If you are visiting Cuba purely as a tourist, I suggest getting the “support for the Cuban people” visa. This visa is easily obtained through companies like ViaHero.
ViaHero is great for a few reasons. First, your itinerary is created by a local who knows the very best of their country, ensuring you’ll have the best experience possible. The itinerary will be customized to you, plus they will make reservations and be available via messaging throughout your trip! Next, you won’t have to worry about doing anything on the restricted list (explained below) And last, your itinerary counts as valid documentation for your visa!
The restricted list
Okay this sounds scarier than it actually is. This is a list created by the The U.S state department of restricted establishments Americans can’t have direct financial transactions with. This is because it would disproportionately benefit the Cuban Military at the expense of the Cuban people. Restaurants, hotels and stores are a few examples of institutions on the list.
Before your trip, while you are planning, it is a good idea to look over this Cuba restricted list to ensure you do not add any of these places to your itinerary.
Cuba requires travelers to have travel insurance for their trip. Your airline might include this in your ticket price or it can be bought at the airport upon arrival, but be sure to double check. I personally recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. You may or may not be asked for proof of this travel insurance, so I would print it out just in case.
Also, be sure to pack enough of any medications you may need because medical care in Cuba does not meet U.S standards and you also have to pay cash for your care.
CUBAN VS AMERICAN CURRENCY
There are two types of Cuban pesos and the one you will need is called the CUC. CUC is the currency used by tourists to Cuba. You will not be able to use American credit or debit cards while in Cuba so you need to bring enough cash to last for your entire trip. This also means you will not be able to use an ATM. Budgeting will be essential for your vacation, but thankfully many things in Cuba are inexpensive.
Also, take into account that when converting American dollars to CUC there is a 3% fee and 10% tax! Keep this in mind when deciding how much money to bring. I also suggest exchanging your American dollars at your accommodation or a bank, doing so at the airport will definitely include a higher exchange rate.
Tip: Download a currency converter app to ensure you get the right amount of money back from the teller!
Feeling stressed about planning a trip to Cuba? You can also check out the official government travel site which lays out everything you could possibly need to know before you go to Cuba!
Need some inspiration for your trip to Cuba? Check out my guide to 24 hours in Havana!
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