As of November 2017, President Trump announced changes in traveling to Cuba from the United States. You can no longer travel under the "People To People" category as an individual from the United States, and you can’t spend money at military-owned businesses. Tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited. You must obtain a license from the Department of Treasury or your travel must fall into one of 12 categories of authorized travel. 

How Can I Travel to Cuba From the United States?

Even if you have a U.S. passport, you cannot legally travel to Cuba for fun or touristic reasons. Group people-to-people tours of Cuba have been acceptable, but if a U.S citizen wants to travel from the United States to Cuba independently, you must obtain a license from the Department of Treasury or your trip must fall within one of these twelve categories:

  • Family visit;
  • Official business of the U.S. Government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations;
  • Journalistic activities;
  • Professional research or meetings;
  • Educational activities and exchanges;
  • Religious activities;
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic/other competitions and exhibitions;
  • Humanitarian projects;
  • Support for the Cuban people;
  • Activities of private foundations, research, or educational institutes;
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information material; and/or
  • Certain authorized export transactions.

Why was Travel to Cuba Banned?

In 1962, President Kennedy issued an executive order imposing a trade embargo against Cuba. This order has since been solidified in the form of U.S. federal regulations and statutes. In general, U.S. citizens are prohibited from engaging in any economic relations with the government of Cuba or Cuban nationals. As a result, most forms of travel to the country are prohibited.

Can I Get a Cuban Visa to Travel to Cuba?

It should be noted that the U.S. Embassy in Havana and the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C do not process Cuban visa applications. To apply for a Cuban visa or if you have any questions regarding Cuban consular services, please contact the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C:

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba
2630 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Phone: (202) 797 8518 – Ext. 600

Can I Travel to Cuba if I am a Dual Citizen of the United States and Cuba?

If you are a dual citizen of both the United States and Cuba, the Government of Cuba treats U.S. citizens born in Cuba as Cuban citizens and the Cuban government may subject you to a series of restrictions and responsibilities.

The Cuban government requires U.S.-Cuban dual citizens who departed Cuba on or after January 1, 1971 to enter and depart Cuba using a Cuban passport. Using a Cuban passport for this purpose does not endanger one’s U.S. citizenship; must use their U.S. passports to enter and depart the United States. Cuban-Americans who left Cuba before January 1, 1971 can travel to Cuba on their U.S. passport, but must apply for an HE-11 visa from the Cuban Embassy. 

What is the Penalty for Traveling to Cuba Without a Permit?

U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba so all individuals traveling to Cuba must bring cash with them to cover them for their stay. The Cuban government requires that travelers declare cash amounts over 5,000 USD.

Travelers should note that the Government of Cuba charges a 10% fee for all U.S. dollar cash conversions; this does not apply to electronic transactions or cash conversions in other currencies.

Can I Bring Any Souvenirs Back?

Yes, under President Trump’s new travel restrictions to Cuba, you may still bring back souvenirs from Cuba and the rules did not change the rules for importation of Cuban rum and cigars. While there are still restrictions on how much you can bring back in the United States, the United States places a $400 limit on imports from Cuba and alcohol or tobacco products can’t account for more than $100 of that.

Do I Need Health Insurance to Travel to Cuba?

All visitors going to Cuba are required to have health insurance that is accepted in Cuba. In many cases, health or travel insurance policies such as Kaiser or Blue Cross that are issued in the United States are not accepted at medical facilities in Cuba. 

Some airlines include specific health insurance in the total cost of the air ticket .Cuban health insurance is provided by ESICUBA and is valid for 30 days. If you are staying in Cuba beyond 30 days, you’ll need to purchase additional insurance to cover the remainder of your stay.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Travel to Cuba?

If you are planning a legal trip to Cuba, especially an extended one, you will need an immigration attorney to help plan or obtain a license. If you have recently returned from an illegal trip to Cuba and are facing sanctions, you may want to speak to an attorney.