Travel to Cuba with the Support for the Cuban People category

Updated September 20, 2017

Categories for legal travel to Cuba

As an American, you need to pick one of 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba. Before the new regulations announced by the Trump Administration, many travelers were able to choose the People to People Educational category. Under the new Cuba travel regulations a traveler can only choose the People to People category if he or she is traveling with a group package tour, so you can no longer travel independently with that category.

The most broad category to currently travel independently to Cuba is the Support for the Cuban People category. You will need to abide by the regulations and participate in activities that are in the spirit of the category. Continue reading to learn more.

What does the category require?

To understand what is required by the category, take a look at the legal text:

Full text of the Support for the Cuban People category

To summarize:

  • An independent traveler can travel under this category.
  • A traveler is required to provide support for the Cuban people, and promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba.
  • A traveler is required to engage in Support for the Cuban People activities consistent with a full-time schedule. The consensus is that this is 6 hours per day during weekdays.
  • One must retain records, like receipts and itineraries, and keep records of these for five years.
  • A traveler must avoid all transactions with a GAESA-owned (military-owned) business.

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I thought the new policy didn’t allow independent travel to Cuba?

That’s only true for the People to People category. The other 11 categories, including Support for the Cuban People, are available to independent travel.

The goals of the new policy are to support the Cuban people and limit the benefits to the Cuban military. Both in the announcement and in ensuing documentation it is stated over and over again. Marco Rubio, who was the driver of this policy change, makes it very clear in his tweets following the announcement, even outlining how travelers can travel under the Support for the Cuban People category.

What activities count toward Support for the Cuban People?

The category is fairly broad, so it really depends on your interests. In general, you’ll need to:

  • Stay at a casa particular or Airbnb.
  • Support and engage with local businesses and independent entrepreneurs like artists, musicians, food vendors, filmmakers, etc. Whatever your interest, you can find a way to support the Cuban people.
  • Eat at local restaurants or paladars.
  • Avoid transactions at military-owned businesses.

As long as your activities meet those requirements, for at least 6 hours per day during the weekdays, you fit into the category. The rest of the time you are free to participate in more touristic activities like going to the beach.

Here’s an example itinerary for travel to Cuba under the Support for the Cuban People category.

Locals can help plan your legal trip

If you're interested, one of our locals in Cuba can plan out as much or as little of your trip as you'd like, all while ensuring that you are visiting legally under the category of your choice.

For more on the trip planning service, here's more info.

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