Does going to Cuba make you nervous?
This communist country is so close to the United States yet it continues to feel like it is out of reach for US Citizens. News of travel bans and restrictions is enough to make any traveler nervous. However, major airlines like American and Southwest have direct flights from the US to Havana so this should begin to put your mind at ease.
So what exactly is the big deal about traveling to Cuba? It has to do with the United States creating travel restrictions in order to hurt Cuba’s communist government economically.
The restrictions imposed by the US are as follows:
- Travel within one of 12 categories
- Fill out a travel declaration stating which category you are choosing
- Have an itinerary for at least 6 hours per day of approved activities
- Do not give money directly to the Cuban government, their restaurants or hotels, or the military (a list is available on the US Dept of State website)
- Keep the travel declaration, itinerary, and boarding pass for 5 years
- You may not return with rum or cigars
The 12 categories state why you are going to Cuba. Most of you are going for the sights and sounds of Cuba.
The people and their music, dancing, art, food and lifestyle. All of this falls under the category of “Support for the Cuban People.” By spending your money to take part in these activities you are supporting the Cuban people. Taking dance classes, purchasing art, dining in private restaurants, and staying in B&Bs are examples of the US approved activities I mentioned earlier.
By the way, sunbathing on the beach and drinking mojitos is not on the approved list. However, learning from a local Cuban how to make a mojito and enjoying it on the rooftop is! So, choose the “Support for the Cuban People” category.
Your itinerary can be created by you or a travel company and you will follow it as a legal affidavit. If you create your own itinerary be sure that it meets the 6 hour requirement of approved activities which isn’t difficult. And don’t choose businesses of the Cuban government or military, also not difficult. The tricky part of planning is that you can’t use your US credit cards with Cuban companies to pay for arrangements in advance. It may require arriving in Cuba and then finding and paying for the activities on your itinerary.
Cuba has some simple entry requirements as do most countries. Present a valid passport that is valid for at least 6 months, fill out the tourist card available at the airport or from your travel consultant ($50-$120usd), and purchase specific medical insurance. No need to worry about not having the correct insurance, this so-called specific insurance is automatically included in the cost of your fare for all flights departing the US to Cuba and your boarding pass is proof of this insurance. If you have a boarding pass, you have the required insurance. Also, effective January 5, 2021, a negative RT-PCR test performed no later than 72 hours before travel to Cuba is required, in addition to proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Follow this information on how to go to Cuba from the US and feel confident that you will have a positive experience in this beautiful country. The Cuban people really do need your support and they will welcome you with open arms.
If any of this still makes you nervous, and the goal is to calm those nerves, we recommend joining a small group tour of like minded people or using a travel consultant to create a private Cuba tour. Cuba culture and traditions are not to be missed!