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Can I Travel to Cuba? Here's What You Need to Know

ViaHero
Updated November 24, 2020

In the #beforetimes, Americans could absolutely travel to Cuba–even in light of the Trump Administration's travel restrictions. (Even the most recent restriction—which dictates that Americans cannot stay at government-owned hotels or import Cuban rum and cigars—does not ban travel to Cuba.)

But the coronavirus has made travel to Cuba even more complicated. Read on below for the latest updates about traveling to Cuba, as well as everything you need to know about traveling there legally, as an American. And if you have questions, feel free to reach out to one of our Cuban trip planners

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

UPDATE: Cuba and the coronavirus

So, can I travel to Cuba? It depends where you're coming from, and when you want to visit. Here's the latest: 

November 16th: The Havana Airport opened for travel on November 15th. Travelers will be tested upon arrival and must quarantine for twenty-four hours. These airport tests are free. 

Note: The latest travel restrictions introduced by the Trump Administration do not ban travel to Cuba. They simply state that Americans cannot stay in government-owned hotels or import Cuban cigars or rum.

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Curious to learn more about the history of Cuba travel? Check out Yesterday in Travel, a podcast sponsored by ViaHero. One recent show covered President Obama's 2016 trip to Havana and what it meant for American travelers:

You can download more episodes on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

What kind of traveler are you?
Let’s face it. People want different things when they travel. Rather than spending hours sifting through blogs and top 10 lists written by people who may have totally different interests than you, why not start by sharing a little about what’s important to you when exploring a new destination?
Enter your travel preferences below and we’ll connect you with a likeminded local in Cuba to help you plan your trip based on your specific interests.

Support for the Cuban People

Most people plan trips under the Support for the Cuban People category

The Support for the Cuban People category is the most common category for independent travel to Cuba. Under this category, you must adhere to a full-time schedule of activities that support the Cuban people. 

  • Activities that "support the Cuban people" can range from eating in privately-owned restaurants, to visiting local artists, to spending money in locally-owned businesses, to staying at casas particulares
  • Under Support for the Cuban People, you also need to avoid staying at hotels banned by the US State Department and spending money at military-owned businesses. 
  • You must keep all of your records and receipts for 5 years.
  • Wondering how to create a full-time schedule of Support for the Cuban People activitiesHave one of our Cuban locals plan your personalized trip. They'll include tons of insider recommendations and hidden gems, plus all the stuff you already wanted to do and see in Cuba, all while adhering to the requirements of Support for the Cuban People

Remember: You can no longer travel under the People to People category or take cruises to Cuba

As of June 5th 2019, travelers can no longer travel to Cuba under the “People to People” category (which was primarily used by guided tour companies and cruise lines). This 12th category of travel focused on educational activities that put the traveler in contact with the Cuban people. Additionally, you can no longer plan cruises to Cuba under the June 2019 regulations. Prior to this restriction, travelers could take shore excursions as long as they didn't spend any Cuban currency at military-run businesses.

What if I have existing People to People or cruise plans?

If you have existing plans to travel to Cuba that were arranged before June 5, 2019, you can still travel to Cuba without making any changes to your plans. 

Work with a local to plan your trip.
See a side most people miss.

Cuban Tourist Cards / Visas

Regardless of which Category of Legal Travel you choose, you will still need to buy a Cuban Tourist Card to enter Cuba (not actually a visa, though the two words are sometimes used interchangeably). This is a Cuban government requirement, and has nothing to do with the 11 Categories of Legal Travel required by the US Government.  If you're traveling from the US, this card is pink. If you are traveling from outside the US, this card is green. There are several ways to purchase a Cuban Tourist Card:

  1. The easiest way to get your Cuban Tourist Card is online in advance through sites like Cuba Visa Services (for pink cards) or Easy Tourist Card (for green cards). Buying your Tourist Card ahead of time means you won’t be waiting until the last minute to secure your necessary documentation.
  2. If you're flying to Cuba, you can also purchase your Tourist Card from your airline. Check with your airline for more information regarding pricing and where to purchase.
  3. Visit your country's Cuban Embassy. Prices vary depending on the embassy/consulate.

More Info

For more info on new regulations, here is the Fact Sheet the Department of the Treasury distributed on June 4, 2019. 

Bookmark this page to stay up to date on Cuba travel policy. Or, ask someone who knows best—our Cuban trip planners are experts on all things Cuba. Message one today

Still have questions about travel to Cuba?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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