Due to the historically tense relationship between Cuba and the United States, many Americans still wonder if it is possible to travel to Cuba from the United States. To answer shortly, travel to Cuba from the US is perfectly legal in 2023. However, there are some singularities you should take into consideration if you are an American wanting to visit this beautiful Caribbean island. To make it easy for you, Espíritu Travel has put together a list of 5 things you should know about how to visit Cuba as an American traveler.
Travel to Cuba from the US as a tourist is not permitted
Yes, you read it right. Travel to Cuba from the United States for tourism purposes is not technically allowed. Since 1963, The Cuban Assets Control Regulations don’t allow Americans to visit Cuba as tourists. However, this regulation doesn’t specify any other travel categories. For that reason, you can choose from 11 different categories for your trip to the island. Among these, you will find family visits, educational and cultural exchange programs, religious activities, or even support for the Cuban people.
Something important is that your selected travel category must be aligned with your actual travel itinerary. As a result, one of the most popular categories is “support for Cuban people” as it is easy to comply.
Make sure you meet the Cuban entry requirements beforehand
As an American, there are several specific documents you need to possess upon your arrival in Cuba. Here is a simplified list of documents you will need if you travel to Cuba from the United States:
- Return flight tickets from the US to Cuba
- Cuban Tourist Card. Regardless of their country of origin, all travelers must obtain a Cuban Tourist Card. They can be purchased online or at the airport, and will be valid for up to 30 days.
- Certification of Travel Form, which underlines your selected travel category
- Valid passport. To avoid any issues, make sure your passport will be valid for at least another six months before your departure.
- Travel insurance. Mandatory medical insurance for entry into Cuba is included with the purchase of your flight. Or you can purchase travel insurance which would include mandatory medical insurance as well as trip cancellation protection.
Bring cash to your trip to Cuba
A top tip on how to travel to Cuba as an American is to bring plenty of pocket money for your time on the island. It is not rare to find establishments in Cuba where credit cards are not accepted. To avoid those situations, pre-book activities and bring US dollars to your trip. Once in Cuba, you will be able to exchange them at the airport.
Be aware of the limitations of internet connection in Cuba
Even though the internet in Cuba has significantly improved its quality and accessibility over the last couple of years, getting access to it is still way more challenging than in the US. You will find hotspots in public places such as parks, hotels and main airports, however, the connection is not free. To access it you will have to purchase a NAUTA card from any of Cuba’s ETECSA offices. When traveling to Cuba from the US, another good option to access the internet would be buying a Cubacel Tur SIM Card which also provides you with a temporary phone line for tourists.
Learn about the items you are not allowed to bring back
When traveling back to the US, there are a number of items you won’t be able to bring back from Cuba. The following goods are prohibited:
- Animal products
- Fruit and vegetables
- Drugs and firearms
- Sin 2020, the importation of Cuban rum and Cuban cigars is banned
Now that you are more familiar with some of the key aspects of traveling to Cuba as an American, it’s time to start planning your trip. To get inspired to create your dream schedule, you can check out our trip to cuba ideas. Once you have made out your mind, contact Espíritu Travel. We will design a bespoke itinerary that suits all your needs and wants. Also, remember that if you still have questions on how to visit Cuba as an American, we will be more than happy to guide you.