Cuba visa requirements for US citizens
As of this writing, it is still possible for US citizens to legally visit Cuba, but realistically, that could change at any time. The country was closed to most Americans for decades until 2014, and the entry requirements remain in flux, mainly based on the political climate. In addition, there are only a few places in the US that offer direct flights to Havana, including New York City, Tampa, Miami, Houston, and Fort Lauderdale. Several US airlines offer routes out of these cities, but again, they may be cancelled or increased depending on demand.
Visiting Cuba as a tourist
Strictly speaking, Americans may not visit Cuba as a tourist. Even when the country was reopened to US citizens, this was not the case. In practice, if someone qualifies for travel under any one of twelve categories, he or she can legally enter Cuba. According to the US Embassy in Cuba’s website, these are:
1. Family visits
2. Official business visits for the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
3. Journalistic activity
4. Professional research and professional meetings
5. Educational activities
6. Religious activities
7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
8. Support for the Cuban people
9. Humanitarian projects
10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
12. Certain authorized export transactions
Americans qualifying for travel to Cuba under one of these categories must declare it for a travel license; unfortunately, tourist visas through the Cuban embassy in Washington DC are not available for US citizens. You can also arrange for a third-party agency like Travel Visa Pro to facilitate any application. As always, you will need a passport valid for at least six months, proof of travel, an application form, and a small fee. Additional paperwork may also be required depending on which category applies to you.
Which category applies to you?
In general, most travelers to Cuba still looking to engage in tourism without technically being tourists choose “Support for the Cuban people” as their category of travel, as it is specifically vague and includes activities like visiting museums, taking dance classes, and volunteering. Another option under education activities is the “People To People Exchange Travel”, which permits US citizens to go to Cuba as part of a tour group with a licensed company.
Other visa requirements for Cuba
In addition to having a legal visa or travel license, any US citizen traveling to Cuba must present proof of medical insurance. More often than not, this is included in your flight ticket, but may also be purchased on arrival. Those traveling for educational purposes are required to be tested for HIV/AIDS.
For those visiting Cuba on a Caribbean cruise, the requirements are slightly different when compared with those of the surrounding islands. Usually, US citizens may visit most countries by sea with only a passport card (in the case of island nations) or a state-issued driver’s license (in the case of a US territory like Puerto Rico). However, visitors to Cuba are required to have a passport book valid for at least six months.
No matter how you enter Cuba, you will probably need to provide a detailed itinerary to immigration on arrival, including confirmation of your departure date.
Is your passport up to date for your Cuba travels?
If you’ve let the expiration date on your passport book approach too quickly, never fear – Travel Visa Pro is standing by with assistance in your area. Whether you’re based in one of the nine cities with a staffed office or nearby one of our dozens of pick up and drop off locations, TVP has been helping US citizens get their passports in a hurry when they need them most.
Do you have any other questions about traveling to Cuba? Leave them in the comments.