Can you travel to Cuba with an American passport? Yes! But there are some things Americans should know.
We put together this guide to help make travel to Cuba easy. Below, check out our eight easy steps for Americans traveling to Cuba.
Or, better yet, message a local Cuban travel planner who can answer your questions and help you design your perfect trip.
You can now fly from your hometown airport to Cuba on a major airline with fewer than two stops on the journey. You can even go non-stop from New York-JFK, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and a few other cities.
(You could also travel via Mexico or Canada, as Americans once did when travel to Cuba was forbidden, but it’s no longer necessary.)
The Cuban government allows Americans to visit their country. The restrictions on traveler activities (and where they can spend money) are all US government rules. So, regardless of American regulations, your US passport is valid in Cuba.
Officials in Cuba and in the US usually don’t ask many questions, so take a deep breath and get excited about traveling to Cuba!
Read on to find out about the other steps you must follow and regulations you should keep in mind when you plan a trip to Cuba with a US passport.
US travelers to Cuba must declare a travel category before departure. There are twelve categories to choose from and Americans can visit Cuba independently with most of them. (You can find a full outline in our guide to Everything You Need to Know About Cuba Travel.)
The bottom line is: the travel category is self-declared. There’s no application process or physical license that travelers need to bring with them. Travelers declare their category during the online booking process for flights and lodging, and are bound by its rules on the honor system. Our local Cuban travel planners can help you choose the best travel category for your trip based on the activities you’d like to do in Cuba.
The Cuban government requires travelers from most countries, including the US, to have a Cuban Tourist Card (sometimes called a "visa") in order to enter the country. It’s easy to obtain one ahead of time online or through your airline itself (usually at the airport).
For detailed instructions on getting a tourist card, review our guide The Easiest Way to Get a Cuban Visa.
Or read step by step instructions for how to get a Tourist Card through specific airlines:
Travelers to Cuba are required to have Cuban health insurance. Luckily, if you're flying from the US, your insurance is already included in the purchase of your airline ticket, so there's nothing else you need to do to meet this requirement. This insurance provides access to Cuba's network of tourist clinics and hospitals, which are modern and offer care that is similar to anywhere else in the world.
If you're flying from outside of the US, the easiest way to get insurance is at the airport in Havana. There is a booth before customs where you can purchase a policy for just a few dollars per travel day. This requirement is often only loosely enforced, so you may pass through customs without having to purchase anything.
You can of course choose to purchase additional travel insurance based on your needs.
Creating an itinerary is the best way for you to demonstrate that you have a full-time schedule of approved activities within your travel category. Full-time is described as six hours per day on weekdays. If you’re visiting independent museums, talking with local artists in their galleries, or getting to know your casa particular hosts full-time, then you can spend Saturday afternoon at the beach or taking an independent tour of Havana without worrying.
Just like having a schedule at work helps you stay on track, an itinerary for Cuba can help you stay on track in your travel category.
A list of restricted hotels and other Cuban government businesses is was released November 9, 2017 and applies to anyone traveling to Cuba in any of the categories. It is maintained by the US State Department and lists organization with connections to the Cuban military. Americans are not allowed to spend money at any business on this list. You cannot stay at any of these hotels, eat at any of these restaurants, or work with any of these travel companies.
The U.S.-Cuba travel regulations state that the US government can to ask you for receipts and records from your trip to Cuba for up to five years, so it's important to keep your itinerary, photos, and any other records from your trip on file in the extremely unlikely event you’re asked for them.
Before you go anywhere these days, it's a good idea to check and see what kind of entry requirements your destination has for travelers. Today, Cuba is open for travel — even for Americans and regardless of vaccination status. Anyone traveling to Cuba just has to keep a couple of things in mind:
That’s all you have to do to travel to Cuba with a US passport. Figure out a few formalities in advance and keep your records, but
We know that this can all feel overwhelming. That's why we recommend talking with a local in Cuba.
Not only can they answer your questions on which boxes you need to check before your trip, but they can also help design an exciting, immersive itinerary in their home country.