How to Travel to Cuba Legally as a U.S. Citizen in 2019

Politics can unfortunately get in the way of vacations, especially if you want to see certain cities or landmarks on your free time. When it comes to the relationship between the United States and Cuba, traveling between the two countries hasn’t been the easiest thing to do because of relations between their governments. If you do go to Cuba though, there are plenty of things to do during your Cuban trip.

However, rules for visiting Cuba are starting to tighten up yet again for U.S. adventurers but these are several guidelines that you need to follow so that you have an easy time getting there. The tips below depend on how you plan to visit, as well as when you planned. Here are five pointers for how to travel to Cuba legally as a U.S. citizen in 2019 for now.

1. Individual Travel

When it comes to visiting Cuba on your own, your purpose must fall under one of the 12 categories of permitted travel to Cuba, which went through changes after Donald Trump’s edict in November 2017.

You’ll need to document what you do during your stay to provide proof that you were in Cuba for legitimate reasons. Planning months ahead of your break will help you avoid not having certain documents ready when asked to provide them.

Below are the 12 reasons that serve as such purposes:

  • Family visits
  • Educational activities
  • Religious activities
  • Journalistic activities
  • Official business for the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  • Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines

2.  Licensed Tours

Going on tours is an easy way to explore the most famous and historic parts of an area that you’ve never been to. This can be tougher in countries like Cuba, as the People to People educational category for reasons to come here restrict your options for tour companies to those that are based in the U.S.

Bus Tours

However, this is an opportunity to get to know how local society works in this area. Those who embark on these tours get to participate in educational activities about the law and the history of certain locations. While you won’t get to interact with the Cuban government in this case, you can with the Cuban people, which can provide a more personal experience.

Guides provide you lists of places to visit on the tour so that you can save time on planning the day. The hotels make sure to accommodate you while you’re relaxing, and meals and ground transportation are included. Make sure to have plenty of U.S. cash on you before you start, because your sources to get American money in Cuba will be limited.

3. Cruises

Despite the current travel regulations between the U.S. and Cuba, taking a cruise is still an option. This is also a chance to enjoy fresh air and great views of the water during your travels, which is hard to come by on drives through the city or bus trips from one town to another. However, there are still certain rules you’ll need to follow.

The recent travel restrictions imposed by the current administration are designed to keep U.S. citizens from providing money to military-funded establishments. Coming across these areas may happen often on your cruise, depending on which points you’re traveling in between. Planning where you’ll visit ahead of time will save you a headache.

Excursions vary depending on your goal, so having U.S. cash on you in case you decide to extend your travels will help you have an easier visit. Solo travels may not require too many visits each day. Having your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in between stops is another way to keep your wallet in good shape.

4. Havana Embassy

The current regulations are also not preventing the U.S. Embassy in Havana from making traveling easier for U.S. citizens. Services are available at this spot in case you want to get a new U.S. passport, renew an expired one, or replace any that have been stolen.

Havana Embassy

Having documents on you to provide proof of your reason for being here is also made easier thanks to this embassy. You can also get federal income tax forms to show proof of any purchases you’ve made during your stay.

The U.S. Embassy can also wire you money in case of an emergency situation. However, you should use this service for these scenarios instead of just when you’re short on cash.

5. Visas/ Cuban Tourist Cards

You’ll need to get your visa for your trip to Cuba through the Cuba Embassy in Washington, D.C. Applications can’t be processed at the U.S. Embassy in Havana or the U.S. Department of State in D.C.

Another important document you’ll need for your visit is a Cuban Tourist Card, which is required by the Cuban government. You can get this card online at sites such as Cuba Visa Services, or at the airline you’re using to fly to the country.

The U.S. Embassy has Cuban Tourists Cards available if you’re short on time. Cruise lines also have them available in case you’re traveling on the water. However, calling airlines and cruise lines ahead of times will save you trouble.

Remember these tips so that you can have as much fun as possible on your Cuban trip.

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