Traveling to Cuba as a US Citizen: 2023 Complete Guide
Cuba has been a country shrouded in mystery and wonder for many Americans. Just 90 miles off the shores of Key West, it’s no surprise why many Americans wonder if they can visit Cuba.
With continuous changes to travel restrictions and policies regarding Cuba, Squaremouth has compiled a detailed overview of everything you need to know, updated with the latest information regarding Cuba entry requirements, the latest COVID-19 updates, travel advice, and much more.
Can Americans Travel to Cuba?
In short, yes, it is possible for Americans to visit Cuba. However, the country still remains off limits for tourist activities. This means U.S citizens currently cannot visit Cuba to simply sightsee, go to the beach, and explore.
As of 2022, Americans that wish to travel to Cuba must fall into one of the 12 approved categories of travel, determined by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Visiting Cuba is not as straightforward for Americans as it is for citizens of other nations, like Canada or the United Kingdom. U.S citizens can apply for a general license under one of the authorized categories, which can take anywhere from four to six months to process, according to regulation experts.
The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba include:
- Family Visits
- Journalistic Activity
- Professional Research and Meetings
- Educational activities
- Religious Activities
- Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Exhibitions, Athletic and Other Competitions
- Support for the Cuban People
- Humanitarian Projects
- Activities of Private Foundations, or Research or Educational Institutes
- Official Business of the U.S. Government, Foreign Governments, and Certain Intergovernmental Organizations
- Exportation, Importation, or Transmission of Information
- Authorized Export Transactions
To apply for a license, or to learn more about the different categories of approved travel, visit the official OFAC website.
Cuba Travel Restrictions & Requirements
The U.S Passport is welcome and accepted at the Cuban borders. Most of the policies in place that prohibit tourist travel to Cuba come from the United States. Below are some of the main travel restrictions and requirements to keep in mind when traveling to Cuba.
Cuba Entry Requirements
To gain entry to Cuba, Americans are required to possess specific documents upon arrival. It’s important to start gathering these documents as early as possible to avoid issues at the border. Below is a simplified list of entry requirements, compiled by Cuba Unbound.
- Return Travel Documents: Travelers must show proof of entry and departure dates in order to receive a valid visa.
- Valid Cuban Tourist Card/Visa: American citizens traveling to Cuba must acquire a valid Visa, also known as a Cuban Tourist Card. These cards can be purchased online for $50-$100, are valid for 30 days, and take roughly 48 hours to process.
- Certification of Travel Form: This document outlines the approved category in which American citizens are traveling to Cuba.
- Valid Passport: Americans are required to have a passport that is valid for the duration of their stay.
- Proof of Travel Medical Insurance: Cuba requires all foreigners to purchase medical insurance prior to entry.
Cuba Travel Insurance Requirements
Since 2010, the Cuban government has required all visitors from abroad to provide proof of medical insurance when visiting the island. While there are no requirements on the amount of coverage travelers need, U.S citizens visiting Cuba must purchase a policy that includes Emergency Medical coverage, as well as Medical Evacuation & Repatriation coverage.
Squaremouth recommends travelers visiting Cuba buy a travel insurance policy with at least $50,000 in Emergency Medical coverage, and at least $100,000 in Medical Evacuation & Repatriation coverage. Squaremouth’s Cuba Travel Insurance page provides more information and specific policy recommendations for travelers planning to visit the country.
COVID-19 Related Requirements
While COVID-19 travel requirements are subject to change, U.S citizens are currently not required to provide a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination card upon arrival. It is required that all Americans visiting Cuba follow local laws pertaining to COVID-19, such as social distancing and mask wearing.
For the latest information regarding COVID-19 and its impact on travel, visit the U.S Embassy in Cuba’s official website.
Visiting Cuba From the U.S.
For more than 60 years, U.S travel to Cuba has been a complex issue. With that said, there are plenty of reasons why Cuba, home to more than 400 white-sand beaches and over 3,500 miles of coastline, has remained a desirable destination for American travelers.
In relation to neighboring Caribbean countries, many of which are consistently among the most popular destinations for Americans, Cuba has a relatively low crime rate. With that said, the U.S Department of State’s Cuba Travel Advisory recommends exercising increased caution when visiting the island due to petty crime, such as theft, sometimes targeted towards tourists.
What Airports Fly to Cuba From the U.S?
Regardless of the complexities of traveling to Cuba, there are still multiple airports and airlines that provide non-stop flights to Havana, the nation’s capital. According to Simple Flying, eligible U.S citizens traveling to Cuba can find non-stop service from the following airports:
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
- Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Texas
- Tampa International Airport (TPA), Florida
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Florida
- Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
For those interested in which airlines fly directly to Cuba, SkyScanner shares that American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, jetBlue, and United all provide such services to eligible U.S citizens.