So you're wondering... "can I travel to Cuba in 2023?"
Although travel to Cuba is slightly more complicated than visiting other countries, it is possible for Americans to go to Cuba in 2023, and well worth the effort!
Read on below to learn more about the latest Cuba travel news, as well as what Americans need to do to travel to Cuba legally.
Yes! Travel to Cuba in 2023 is still possible for Americans who wish to travel independently, without being part of a big, expensive tour group. You just need to pay attention to the rules.
Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba under 12 different categories that reflect the activities travelers will do while in Cuba. There’s no “tourism” category, but there are other categories that will allow you to have an incredible solo or group trip—such as the Support for the Cuban People category—and still enjoy the types of activities you love to do while traveling.
To travel to Cuba legally, all you need to do is adhere to the rules that are stated in the travel category you are using. Still confused?
There is no systematic enforcement of the rules, no application, and no paperwork. When you book a flight online, you will be asked to check a box certifying that your trip fits one of the 12 categories. If you book lodging online, you'll certify again. Then, you go on your trip—no other declarations are required.
The regulations require travelers to keep records from their trips for five years that document their activities. For this reason, it's recommended that travelers have an itinerary that outlines their daily schedule, and keep any receipts, photos, or other records from the trip.
If this sounds complicated and you want someone to walk you through the process, you can message one of our Cuba Heroes for free for advice, or hire them to plan your trip. They can help create an itinerary that meets the Support for the Cuban People category guidelines—or any of the other categories—and is personalized to your travel needs and interests.
Yes, Cuba requires that all visitors obtain a tourist visa—or tarjeta de turista—and getting one is quite simple. If you are traveling from the US, you’ll need the pink visa; travelers arriving from any other country will need the green visa. Travelers can purchase visas online, or at the airport on the day of departure. It’s valid for 30 days and can be extended twice. To be eligible for a visa, your passport must be valid for six months beyond the date of entry to Cuba.
Yes, all the major airlines now have flights to Cuba originating from several US cities, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and New York. And since travel to Cuba is legal, there is no longer a benefit to flying through a third country. Some flight search engines (like Kayak and Expedia) won’t show results for Cuba, so we recommend you search on the airline’s website itself. Currently, all flights from the US go to Havana, but routes may be expanding to other Cuban cities soon.
Travelers can exchange almost any currency in Cuba, but we recommend bringing US Dollars or Euros. Both currencies can be exchanged for Cuban Pesos (CUP) to pay for small items, and many Cubans will accept (and sometimes prefer) that you pay with these foreign currencies. Due to inflation, the exchange rate has fluctuated quite a bit recently, so the best way to get accurate advice on exchange rates is to contact one of our local Cuba trip planners and ask them!
US credit cards won’t work in Cuba, so you’ll need to bring cash for all of your expenses. Luckily, bringing cash is very common, and Cuba is very safe, however, it’s important to take precautions and use safes/lockboxes at hotels and Airbnbs (most rentals provide a secure safe for valuables). As a US citizen, if you run out of money, it is very difficult to get more, so it’s important to have an accurate sense of your budget and to bring more money than you will need.
Cuba is a very safe country, and many locals do speak some English, especially Cubans who regularly interact with travelers. However, the further you get off the beaten path the fewer people you'll meet who speak English, so learning basic Spanish can be a great benefit. Please, thank you and a warm smile will go a long way in most interactions. Learning greetings, directions, numbers, and words for foods will help you immensely.
Most Cubans are particularly fond of US visitors, since many have familial ties to the US and because the two countries have such a long and close relationship. We encourage you to be open to conversation with Cubans—they will certainly want to talk to you!
Wifi and cell phones are complicated in Cuba. Depending on your cell phone carrier, you may be able to access a roaming network while you are in Cuba, at very expensive rates. To avoid roaming fees, we recommend putting your phone on ‘airplane mode’ for the entirety of your trip and using wifi where available. Most hotels and Airbnbs have wifi, so we recommend that you confirm this when reserving lodging, and this way you’ll at least have some internet access during your trip.
If you want to have access to Cuba’s local cell network, we recommend purchasing a SIM card from the CUBACEL kiosk at the airport, or from one of the CUBACEL offices in Havana. These SIM cards will provide you with a Cuban phone number and allow you to pre-purchase packages of data for phone calls and internet use.
Cuba requires that all travelers have health insurance, and American health insurance will not work in Cuba, however, all US airlines include the required health insurance in the price of the airline ticket. The insurance that is included allows you access to Cuba’s network of tourist clinics and hospitals. So if you’ve purchased a flight, you’re all set! If you are flying from outside of the US, you can purchase a non-US travel insurance package or you can purchase Cuban insurance upon arrival in Cuba.
Unfortunately, US regulations currently prohibit the importation of Cuban cigars and alcohol, so enjoy them while you’re there! There are anecdotal accounts online of travelers returning with these items without any issues, but according to the law, these items continue to be restricted. What items aren’t prohibited? Art and artisanal items, coffee, jewelry, souvenirs, perfume…and almost anything besides cigars and alcohol.
Your packing list should include anything that will be useful to have in a warm, sunny climate: sunscreen, bug repellent, hat, and loose, breathable clothing that can be layered as necessary. In addition, you’ll want to bring things that might be easy to find in most countries, but can be quite scarce in Cuba: toiletries, shampoo, medications (even just simple Tylenol/ibuprofen), toilet paper, and any special snacking items that travel well (think granola bars, dried fruit, or nuts).
Even if some of the items you bring are available for purchase in Cuba, it can be an all-day search for a store that has them in stock, so it's much more convenient to bring them to Cuba with you. Plus these types of items can be very expensive.
Though not a physical item, you’ll also want to remember to download offline maps or carry a paper map, since internet access may be spotty or impossible for portions of your trip.
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuba implemented strict rules for incoming travelers, but these were entirely removed in April 2022. Travelers can now enter Cuba freely without any testing or vaccinations. The current guidelines are simple.
Americans may travel to Cuba without proof of vaccination and without a pre-travel COVID test.
A Health Declaration Form is required.
Some travelers are subject to temperature screening upon arrival.
Travelers may be selected at random for COVID testing upon arrival.
As of June 2019, American cruise ships can no longer dock in Cuba. Don't worry—there are still plenty of ways to enjoy all that Cuba has to offer.
As an American traveler, all you must do to travel to Cuba in 2023 is to choose one of the 12 Categories of authorized travel, plan your trip with help from a local Cuban planner so that it meets the requirements of your chosen category, and keep any photos or receipts and records for five years. If you go in 2023, you’ve got to keep records through 2028. It’s that simple.
You can conveniently book accommodations ahead of time online with sites like Airbnb and our local Cuban travel experts will do the heavy lifting of planning. you can also book flights online on major airlines from your hometown airport to Cuba.