Here is everything you need to know about travel to Cuba from the US. In June 2019, the Trump Administration announced new rules governing travel to Cuba from the US. So what does this mean for US citizens and residents who would like to travel to Cuba?
I’m sure you’ve heard that tourist travel is illegal in Cuba, but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel to Cuba. US travelers to Cuba must declare a travel category when traveling from the US. There are twelve categories to chose from and you can see the full list here. The travel category is self-declared, but if traveling on one of our Cuba tours, you will be traveling under Support for the Cuban People.
Further to the new requirements, there is a list of hotels and other businesses banned by the US State department. Therefore, it is recommended that you stay at Cuban Bed & Breakfasts (Casa Particulars), eat at privately owned restaurants (paladares), and support local businesses.
Travel to Cuba under the Support for the Cuban People category states that your trip must “Enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities and that result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba.”
The Support for the Cuban People category also requires that you maintain a full schedule (considered 6-8 hours daily) of meaningful interactions. In addition, you should document your activities with an itinerary or travel journal and maintain the records and receipts for five years.
Below are a few activities you can participate while traveling to Cuba under Support for the Cuban People category:
- Supporting local artists by visiting galleries and purchasing art
- Spend time with your hosts at your Casa Particular
- Taking lessons from locals (dance, language, music, sport, etc)
- Shopping in privately owned businesses
- Taking guided cultural/historical tours
- Admire the mosaics and Fusterlandia
- Take a tour of the Partagas cigar factory
- Visit a tobacco farm and learn how cigars are made
- Visit a rum museum and learn how rum is made
- Check out the local museums
- Go birding at the La Belen in the Sierra del Chorrillo Mountains
- Watch the Canon Ceremony at La Cabana Fortress
- Visit the Casa Chichi Pottery House of the Santender Family in Trinidad
- Visit the ruins in the Valley of the Sugar Mills
- Visit Las Terrazas complex to learn about Sustainable Rural Economy Project
- Visit the Indian Caves & Mural de la Prehistoria in Vinales
Under the Support for the Cuban People category, you are not required to be on a tour, but it is highly recommended because time spent with local tour guides counts towards “meaningful interaction” and “promoting independence.” A guide will also help you engage more with the culture and people and avoid the hassles and frustrations that independent travelers face. Cuba is safe, but by no means easy.
General License for People to People (P2P) (515.565 B) – This category is eliminated as of June 5, 2019. This was a subset of the general license for Educational Activities to (515.565) allow for non-academic educational travel.
Legal Cuba Travel for Cruise Passengers – As of June 5, 2019 cruise travel is no longer permitted. If you are booked on a cruise already, you should contact your cruise company to find out if the cruise is still scheduled. If you are a cruise passenger, you should travel under Support for the Cuban People (515.574), which all cruise companies allow.
For any clarifications or specific questions in regards to the new regulations, please refer to the OFAC FAQ’s or feel free to contact us.
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