Travel restrictions announced by Trump last June have banned travel to Cuba independently under the people-to-people category. Touristic travel to Cuba for sun tanning and relaxation is prohibited for both US and non-US citizens travelling on a US carrier. All passengers (US. and non-US citizens) travelling on a US carrier must submit a signed form certifying the passenger is travelling under one of the 12 travel categories authorised by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Purchasing a Cuba tour from a company not based in America is illegal. All travellers must book their trip with an authorised people-to-people US-based tour operator. US travellers visiting Cuba on an authorised people-to-people group tour are required to engage full-time in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba.
Travellers flying to Cuba with a US carrier must present the following documents:
- A valid passport: Passports must be valid at least six months beyond the return date of a passenger’s trip to Cuba.
- A Cuban visa: Upon arrival in Cuba, all travellers, regardless of age and excluding those with a Cuban passport and/or born in Cuba, who are travelling to Cuba from the US must present an entry visa (e.g. tourist card, business visa, etc.) as required by the Cuban Government. Some airlines like Delta offer tourist cards for purchase prior to boarding. The cost of a tourist card is USD 50. A tourist card can be used once within 180 days after the date of issue. The tourist card is valid for a single-entry for a period of up to 30 days. Upon arrival in Cuba, a portion of the tourist card is retained by immigration authorities, and the remaining portion is collected at the airport prior to departure from Cuba.
- Cuba-specific medical insurance: Cuba requires all visitors regardless of age to obtain Cuba-specific medical insurance, and a temporary policy will be automatically included in the cost of the passengers fare (a $25 surcharge). These temporary medical insurance plans are valid for a period of up to 30 days. If a medical insurance policy is required for more than 30 days, subsequent policies may be purchased while in Cuba. Passengers must retain their boarding pass during their stay in Cuba. The boarding pass will serve as evidence of the insurance policy should any emergency medical services be required during the trip.
- A completed OFAC Certification: US law restricts travel to Cuba to certain authorised travel categories. Each passenger will be required to submit a signed form certifying the passenger is traveling under one of the 12 travel categories authorised by the OFAC. Travellers are responsible for qualifying under one of these travel categories.
Departure from Cuba
Upon departing from Cuba, you’ll need to present your passport, the boarding pass for your departing flight and the other half of your tourist card to Cuban immigrations authorities. You will not be allowed to leave Cuba without presenting the remaining portion of the card.
Each of the following 12 travel categories contained in the Cuban Asset Control Regulations at 31 CFR § 515 require travellers to meet specific requirements.
- Family Visits
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organisations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research or professional meetings
- Educational activities and people-to-people exchanges
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, transmission of information or informational materials
- Travel related to certain authorised export transactions
Some airlines provide a paper form for the traveller to complete, sign, and submit before departure. All travellers must submit an OFAC certification or they will not be permitted to travel. An electronic solution will be available soon to simplify this process.
Airlines only require passengers to fill out and sign the form, which they will maintain for five years, as required by US law. The passenger travelling is responsible for ensuring that he/she qualifies under the applicable OFAC license selected on the form.
Non-US citizens travelling to Cuba
Foreign nationals (non-US citizens) travelling to Cuba from the United States are required by US law to comply with the same requirements as US citizens. Foreign nationals traveling to Cuba for tourist purposes should not attempt to book travel on a US carrier.
All passengers traveling on US carriers will be required to purchase medical insurance from ESICUBA (the Cuba government insurance provider), which is generally sold as part of the cost of the ticket. If the foreign national has medical insurance that is accepted in Cuba, they may request a refund directly from ESICUBA. Most airlines will not issue refunds for Cuban medical insurance.
- Some passengers may have a specific license issued by the OFAC that permits travel outside of the 12 general license authorised categories for travel.
- Cuban citizens returning to Cuba are authorised by general license to travel to Cuba.
- Business passengers traveling to Cuba may require a business visa that can be obtained through the Cuban Embassy. Questions about this business visa requirement should be directed to the Cuban Embassy.
Any passenger without a valid visa will be required to purchase a tourist card.
Stay up-to-date on any additional or evolving travel requirements. Additional travel information can be found on the following websites: