Guidelines for traveling to Cuba

August 10, 2016 Sara Cartwright

After over 50 years of embargo, U.S. relations with Cuba have finally started to thaw and the gates to Cuba have now been opened up to U.S. travelers for both business and leisure purposes. Visit Travel and Transport’s previous blog on this topic for important information on travel to Cuba from the U.S.

Photo credit: Habana Sunset by Jaume Escofet. Used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.

Travel and Transport is staying abreast of the situation and sharing updates regarding the fluid nature of the many restrictions that must be followed to travel to Cuba from the United States. As of right now, no pre-authorization is needed from the U.S. government if travelers meet one of twelve categories for travel purposes to self-authorize a trip to Cuba with a General License:

  • Family visitations
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, or intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalistic purposes
  • Professional research or meetings
  • Educational trips
  • Religious purposes
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions or exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Private foundation/educational institute activities or research
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information
  • Certain export transactions (under existing regulations and guidelines)

One new development in the Cuba travel landscape is that Cuba does now require a Certificate of Compliance document be filled out by the traveler, signed, and notarized when booking your Cuba travel. The original file must be returned to any vendors who sell/issue tickets to Cuba - including airlines, tour companies, and travel management companies like Travel and Transport. These original, notarized certificates must be kept on file for five years by the vendor; otherwise they will face hefty fines for not following these important regulations.

Additionally, travelers must have a tourist visa card or business visa prior to leaving the U.S. for Cuba (about $30 USD). This process may change over time, and in the future travelers may be able to fill out their visa upon arrival, but currently this has to be completed prior to departure. For visa and documentation needs, Travel and Transport recommends PVSglobal, a global passport and visa services alliance that assists with obtaining international travel documents.

Visit the Office of the Treasury’s Cuba Travel FAQ for more detailed descriptions of the governmental policies, procedures, and any specific requirements that do not fall under one of the 12 pre-authorized categories.

Photo credit: Habana Sunset by Jaume Escofet. Used with Creative Commons 2.0 license. 

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