7 Things to Know When Travelling to Cuba After Trump’s New Laws

 

The rules for Americans travelling to Cuba have changed numerous times over the last few years. Which means there is a lot of misinformation out there and it is hard to determine what you are allowed to do and what is off limits.

Well I have good news, as of writing this article Americans can still travel to Cuba easily

YES, AMERICANS CAN STILL TRAVEL TO CUBA!

Below are the top 7 things to know when travelling to Cuba as an American.

Money

Your credit cards and debit cards won’t work in Cuba (unless you have a non-US account).  The best bet is to bring all the cash you’ll need for the entire trip.  You can change some money at the airport, but they can (sometimes) have a limit of how much you can change at a time.

If you fly into to Havana, there is an exchange place on the main floor of the airport.  It looks like more of an ATM, but it allows you to change money in the machine.  This is good for bills smaller than $100.  Upstairs are money exchange windows if you are brining $100 bills.  Both typically have long lines.  Expect a good 30min to an hour to exchange money when you arrive.

There are also change houses (cambia de exchange) once in the city that are easily accessible most days of the week. In Old Havana, there is an exchange place right in San Fransico square (by the cruise ship port).

Insurance

Make sure you have proof of travel insurance. That includes both trip insurance and travel medical insurance.  The US government wants to make sure you have a travel policy that will cover the cost to fly you out of Cuba in an emergency.  I used the service Trawick International for the medical insurance.  It was less than $30 to get a million dollar policy for the duration of the trip.  It was overkill but it met the US requirements and provided the visa letters, certificates, and ID cards that are required.  As for trip insurance, I used visitors’ coverage. Even if you never usually bother with trip insurance, be sure to buy it; it is a requirement for travel to Cuba.

Tourist Card

The Airline will provide you with a Tourist Card. It can either be at Check-in, at the gate, or on the plane.  It varies by Airline.  Samantha, a recent participant in the Solo Salsa Holiday, flew JetBlue from Miami to Havana.  She was able to obtain a Tourist Card for $50 at Check-in and described it as an easy process.

Some articles will go into detail about the two different types of Tourist Cards (they apparently differ depending on where your flight originates). There is a lot of confusion and unnecessary concern on online discussion boards about this. You don’t need to worry about it.  Your airline will provide you with the correct one. No need to fret.

Important Note: Be sure you keep your card safe during your trip and be ready to present it at the airport on your flight home.

Visa

You’ll be asked a series of questions, including declaring a visa category. There are 12 visa categories.  If you don’t have a specific purpose (i.e. visiting family), the key is to choose “Support for The Cuban People.”  This is easy to prove with your trip itinerary, especially if you are staying in casas particulares.

Casas Particulares

Make sure you are supporting a Cuban family when you choose where to stay. I recommend casas particulares. These are places to stay run by private citizens.  It is best to stay with a host family (i.e. have a room in someone’s home). That said, having an independent apartment isn’t forbidden.  Staying with a family just makes for a better argument that you are “Supporting the Cuban People.”  Vamos*Cuba will arrange your accommodation to make sure you meet this requirement. You can find more information here:  https://vamoscuba.co.uk/accommodation/

Only Support Citizen-Run Businesses

One of the most difficult things to do is make sure you don’t spend money at a business that supports the military.  This means you can only spend money in businesses run by private Cuban citizens.  The only way to do that is through thorough research long before you embark on your trip or to rely on your tour coordinator to provide you with suggestions.

No more “people-to-people” travel

This means you can’t just go as an individual tourist. This doesn’t mean you have to go with 50 other people, you can still go solo. You just need to go through a  travel company like Vamos*Cuba. They will plan your trip with the requirements set out for Americans.

  • […] UPDATE: This post was first published in 2015 and a lot has changed in that time. To see the latest regulations, take a look at our recently published blog on US travel to Cuba. […]

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