The question we get asked is whether American travelers can visit Cuba? And the answer is yes, but you have certain restrictions as to how you can visit Cuba. Good thing is – in our view – that sustainable travel option is the way to go for US travelers!
What does that mean?
U.S. Travel License: Support for the Cuban People is your choice
There are 12 U.S. Travel Licenses that Americans may use to visit Cuba. The good news is that the one you will need – “Support for the Cuban People”, this is a general license, meaning it does not require pre-approval from the U.S. government. What you do however need is a full-time schedule of cultural experiences that support local entrepreneurs in Cuba.
The basic guides for this are:
- You must buy services from Cuban entrepreneurs, such as home rentals (casas), meals (paladares), transportation services (taxis) and cultural activities (having a local tour guide)
- Participate in enriching cultural activities of your choosing from 9am – 6pm daily
- Avoid sitting on the beach all day—you must engage with the local people of Cuba
All Simply Cuba Tours are fitting the US travel rules. It is recommended that you keep you record of your travel to Cuba for 5 years. We provide detailed itineraries for you, and also recommend that you keep a journal of your trip. It’s easy, at the end of every day, spend a few minutes writing down the time of each activity that you experienced, along with the services provided by a Cuban entrepreneur. You could even do this on an email to yourself. The electronic record in your email history will be easy to find, in the unlikely event that the U.S. government asks for proof of how your travel is compliant with the “Support for the Cuban People” travel category.
There are a few other things to consider. First, you are not allowed to spend money at Cuban government-owned businesses listed on the Restricted Entity List. This includes restricted hotels, such as the Manzana Kempinski and Iberostar Grand Packard. Review the restricted list here and bring a printed copy with you to be safe. Restricted Entities are easy to avoid.
Secondly, technically “tourism” to Cuba is prohibited under U.S. law. As such at this time, you are not allowed to travel to Cuba and lay on a beach at a government owned resort. You must engage with the local culture and people and support their businesses. So remember, when you join one of our tours, you are not visiting as a tourist, you are visiting to ‘Support the Cuban people”.
The Cuban Tourist Visa
All travelers visiting Cuba must purchase and fill out a Cuban tourist visa (also called an entry permit, tourist card or travel card). The visa is a blank form with five fields to be filled in with a pen and is very easy to obtain. You may purchase a visa directly at this link or if you like we can obtain it for you at a cost.
You must have your tourist card with you when you are boarding your flight.
How to Get to Cuba
You may book your flight to Cuba directly with your preferred airline, just as you would to any other destination in the world. You may be asked for your purpose of travel before completing the booking. Your purpose of travel is “Support for the Cuban People.” American travelers must fly into Havana under the current U.S. travel rules. All of our tours begin in Havana. Charter flights are prohibited for American travelers.
Beach Access is Limited
At this time, Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba and spend leisure time on a beach at a government owned resort. Although we do offer legal beach visits, Cuba should not be considered for travelers interested in a beach vacation. Cuba should be considered by travelers interested in having an unforgettable cultural experience with history mixed throughout – best suited if you’re looking forward towards something unique!
Currently, the U.S. travel rules prohibit Americans from staying at government-owned hotels in Cuba. These restrictions have not affected our operations as we never stay in hotels. We use the services of private casas – homestays as a way of supporting the community and ensuring cultural immersion.
Whether you are looking to experience the culture, learn about sustainable tourism practices, take your photography skills to the next level or just have an amazing adventure in Cuba with a small group of people who share your passion for all things Cuban, we can help. Check out our website today and sign up for one of our upcoming trips!