Yes, You Can Travel To Cuba! Here’s HowNovember 26, 2019
We are here to set the record straight. Travel to Cuba is safe and legal, and now is the best time in history to visit the island. Follow along as we teach you everything you need to know about travel to Cuba.
The four main components to consider when traveling to Cuba are:
- U.S. travel license: How to travel to Cuba legally under U.S. law
- Cuban tourist visa: What is required on the Cuban side
- Flights to Cuba: How to get to the island
- Restricted entity list: Where you cannot spend money in Cuba
Step #1: How to qualify for the U.S. travel license
Cuba travel is legal, but you must have a specific purpose to visit Cuba. Your travel must comply with one of twelve authorized categories. If your travel complies with one of the twelve categories, then you qualify for a general license to travel to Cuba. The most common category is called “Support for the Cuban People.”
So What is Support for the Cuban People anyways?
In June 2019, the Trump administration eliminated the previously popular “People-to-People” travel category. Since that time, “Support for the Cuban People” has become the preferred license for most travelers. There are three important requirements for you to consider when using “Support for the Cuban People” as the travel category.
First, the traveler’s full-time schedule of activities must “enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities” and “result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba.” We wouldn’t have it any other way! Cuba Candela believes in intentional travel where visitors are more than spectators. Hear about the unique history of Havana, Trinidad, Viñales and more, from local residents who have lived in Cuba their whole lives. Shop in local markets and form meaningful relationships as you uncover how inventive store owners have built their businesses. These immersive experiences translate to a deeper love for travel and Cuba all while supporting Cuban entrepreneurs. Cuba Candela ensures each trip is fully compliant with all U.S. travel rules.
Second, you must have a full-time schedule of activities that does not include “free time” or “recreation’ in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule. As the leading provider in custom, luxury trips to Cuba, we have the expertise to craft cultural experiences that are highly enriching, and which comply with the full-time schedule requirement.
Lastly, travelers must retain records demonstrating compliance with the “Support for the Cuban People” travel license for at least five years after travel to Cuba. Cuba Candela retains records on your behalf, so you can focus on enjoying the experience.
The rules can be confusing for the average traveler to rely on, which has caused a significant decline in the number of self-guided individuals traveling to Cuba. Ironically, this actually presents a great opportunity for you to travel now and avoid the crowds. Cuba Candela is the leader in crafting trips to Cuba for couples, families and affinity groups. We take care of everything for you.
Step #2: Cuban tourist visa (VERY EASY)
Cuba welcomes Americans with open arms. Obtaining a Cuban tourist visa (also called an entry permit, tourist card or travel card) is very easy. There is no process required. You do not need to send in your passport or contact the Cuban embassy.
The visa can be purchased directly from your airline on the day of departure, with cash or a credit card. It can also be ordered in advance online. When traveling with a company like Cuba Candela, we can arrange to send you the visa prior to your departure. The visa is a blank form with five fields to be filled in with a pen. Filling in the visa takes less than one minute and can be done on the flight to Cuba. You must have the Cuban tourist visa and a valid passport to enter Cuba. Nothing more is required on the Cuban side.
Your Cuban tourist visa or travel card can be purchased at the airport on the day of departure or Cuba Candela travelers can have it delivered prior to their date of travel. You must fill it out (with a pen) before landing in Cuba, which takes about two minutes.
Please remember that the Cuban tourist visa (Step #2) is different from the U.S. travel license (Step #1). Many people mistakenly refer to the U.S. travel license as the “visa” required for entry to Cuba, when in fact the visa is a separate document that is very easy to obtain.
Step #3: Booking a flight to Cuba (VERY EASY)
Booking a flight to Cuba is very simple. All major U.S. airlines including JetBlue, Delta, American and United fly nonstop service to Havana, Cuba. You may book flights to Cuba directly with your preferred airline, just as you would to any other destination in the world. When booking your flight online, you’ll be asked to provide the authorized travel purpose. This is where Step #1 comes in.
Step #4: Avoiding restricted entities (EASY ENOUGH)
As of November 9th, 2017, you may not engage in “direct financial transactions” with entities on the Restricted Entity List. This is easy enough so long as you know which entities to avoid. Cuba Candela itineraries do not include any restricted entities. Please see the Department of State website for a full list.
What does this all mean?
Recent changes to the Cuba travel rules have thoroughly confused many otherwise enthusiastic travelers to Cuba. Those willing to spend the time to understand the travel rules—or those booking travel with a company like Cuba Candela—will be rewarded with a more authentic and enjoyable experience.