Can you travel to Cuba with an American passport? Things are complicated at the moment—and it's likely that the coming months will see a relaxation of many policies concerning Cuba, including for travelers.
But, for now, it is possible for travelers to go to Cuba! There are just a couple of things Americans need to know...
You can fly from your hometown airport to Cuba on a major airline with less 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, but it’s no longer necessary.
The Cuban government allows Americans to visit their country. The restrictions on reasons for travel and where you can spend money are all American 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.
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 eleven of them. You can find a full outline in our guide to Everything You Need to Know About the New Cuba Travel Policy.
The bottom line is: the travel category is self-declared. There’s no license to apply for or carry. You agree to the category and are bound by its rules on the honor system. Our Cuban travel experts can help you choose the best travel category for your trip based on the activities you’d like to do in Cuba.
Read on: Traveling to Cuba in 2020
The Cuban government requires travelers from most countries, including the US, to have a Cuban Tourist Card (sometimes called a Cuba Visa) in order to enter the country. It’s easy to obtain one 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 up on specific instructions for how to get a Tourist Card through specific airlines:
Travelers to Cuba are required to have Cuban health insurance. The easiest way to get it is at the airport in Havana. There will be a booth before Customs where you can purchase a policy for just a few dollars per travel day.
An itinerary is the best way for you to make sure you stick to 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.
The Restricted List is one of the most recent rules released regarding travel to Cuba on November 9, 2017. 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 US government is allowed to ask you for receipts and records from your trip to Cuba for up to five years. Keep all of these on file in the unlikely event you’re asked for them.
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