U.S. Government Restores Flights To Cuba And Eases Restrictions

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Travelers must comply with requirements and understand all restrictions and measures before planning a trip to Cuba.

The Biden Administration published a press statement on Monday announcing that they will support the Cuban people by easing and removing restrictions imposed by the ex-president of the United States, Donald Trump, including travel measures to Cuba.

Playa Varadero in Cuba

The US Department of State informed that commercial flights to different Cuban cities will be restored—previously U.S. airlines could only fly to Havana, the capital. Spokesman Ned Price said that the new measures “will make it easier for families to visit their relatives in Cuba and for authorized U.S. travelers to engage with the Cuban people, attend meetings, and conduct research.”

View of an island from passenger seat on airplane

The recent changes to Cuba policy—applied as a strategy to support “Cubans’ aspirations for freedom” after recent anti-government protests— include reestablishing the family reunification program, allowing group travel for educational and professional purposes, increasing visa processing, lifting the family remittances cap previously limited to $1,000 per quarter per person, and supporting the private sector. These new measures attempt to ease the Cuban political and humanitarian crisis —which worsened during the pandemic.

View of an island from passenger seat on airplane

Despite the removal of the COVID-19-related entry requirements in April,  travel to Cuba is still complicated, and individual travel remains restricted for U.S. residents.

American citizens who want to visit the beautiful island must first understand the implications, restrictions, and all applicable rules, as well as stay up to date with news and future updates determined by the US government after this announcement.

What U.S. Travelers Must Know About Travel To Cuba

Havana, Cuba downtown skyline on the Malecon.

According to the official information shared by U.S. authorities, “travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute”. However, American travelers have still been allowed to visit the island but under certain circumstances and by complying with all requirements. 

Those interested in traveling to Cuba must understand that besides the traditional travel considerations all countries have, there are special restrictions stated by the U.S. Department of State—there is a large list of hotels and other touristic companies banned by the US government for acting on behalf of the Cuban military or intelligence—, and U.S. travelers must be approved under one of the 12 motives for visiting Cuba.

Havana, Cuba

Requirements might change depending on the travel category, but these are the main demands and considerations when traveling to Cuba: 

  • Valid US Passport: with a validity of over 6 months after leaving Cuba.
  • Cuba Tourist Card:  It allows travelers to visit for 30 days, and can be bought online —costs $103 through the official site—, or directly from the airline —prices vary, from $50 to $100, depending on the carrier and the fees charged.
  • Travel Insurance: Must cover unexpected medical expenses during the visit.
  • Fill out Health and customs forms: Travelers must request a form online called D’Viajeros and fill it out before traveling to Cuba. 
  • Travelers can be required to show the return ticket and proof of sufficient funds as well as accommodation booked or established.
  • Comply with Covid-19 related restrictions: covid testing and vaccination requirements are gone, but travelers can be selected for random testing upon arrival. If the PCR is positive, travelers could go under government quarantine.
  • An approved “Travel License” to visit Cuba: A permit provided by the US Government for travel to Cuba under one of the 12 active categories for legal travel and meeting all criteria.

The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses for 12 categories of travel:

  • Family visits.
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations. 
  • Journalistic activity.
  • Professional research and professional meetings.
  • Educational activities (recently reactivated with the new measures).
  • Religious activities.
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions. 
  • Support for the Cuban people (a popular category among US travelers).
  • Humanitarian projects. 
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes.
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials. 
  • Certain authorized export transactions.

Travelers will find more details on the official US Government Cuba Travel page, Cuba’s Easy Tourist Card Page, and the D’Viajeros site.

Read More:

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


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