Can you travel to Cuba with an American passport? Yes, but there are still some travel restrictions to consider before planning your trip to this beautiful island and that’s our specialty: we will design this legal trip for you to help you enjoy Cuba while being within the legal boundaries of the U.S. Law!
Here’s how to legally travel to Cuba as an American:
Cuba Reality Tours & Travel will always adhere to the U.S. Law regarding travel to Cuba and we will never forget that we are visiting a foreign country and we will respect and follow the Cuban Law as well.
The U.S. law has blacklisted the Cuban Military owned hotels as of July 2020 and therefore, our tours will only include U.S. government approved hotels.
Tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited but we will organize your trip making sure it will fall into one of the 12 categories of authorized travel.
12 CATEGORIES OF AUTHORIZED TRAVEL TO CUBA FOR AMERICANS
- Family visits (mainly applies to Cuban Americans -born in Cuba- living in the U.S. visiting close relatives on the island)
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
Professional research and professional meetings
- Educational activities
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- 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.
THIS PRICE FOR GROUND SERVICES EXCLUDES AIRFARE AND THE CUBAN VISA
Price for ground services (hotel, transportation, meals, itinerary, English-speaking tour guide, entrance fees to places, while your visit there) really depends on:
1) Accommodation type (3, 4 or 5 star hotels)
2)Room distribution (SGL – most expensive, DBL – slightly cheaper than SGL and TRP cheapest),
3) Group size (the bigger the group the cheaper the price, discounts begin from the 7th traveler on; e.g. 3 travelers may pay $3100 dollars while 40 PAX only $2300 dollars for an identical 8-day-7-night package tour),
4) Itinerary (including tours, meals, transportation mileage – the longer the land trip in terms of mileage the more expensive it’ll be-, etc. and
5) Last but not least, the travel dates since there are 5 tourist seasons in Cuba:Late November to late January: Peak;Late January to late April: high;May to beginning of July: Low;July & August: Semi-high;September & October: Low;
TRAVEL TIPS TO CUBA AND USEFUL TRAVEL INFORMATION
(this will always be revised as it changes depending on the current circumstances)
Your airfare will already include Emergency Health Insurance (slip & fall kind of cases, minor allergy issues, stomach illness, minor cuts, insect bites, etc) while in Cuba and the airport Tax from HAVANA back to the U.S..
Please carry a first AID kit with you if possible since over-of-the-counter medication may not be available.
This is NOT to be confused with Travel Insurance Coverage (24/7 travel assistance, medical expenses, trip cancellation & interruption, lost baggage, baggage delay, severe weather, strike, medical evacuation, repatriation, etc) Travel Insurance Coverage should be bought separately.
If you were born in Cuba and arrived in the US after December 1970, you only need your valid Cuban passport.
If you were born in Cuba and arrived in the US in or before December 1970, you are required to carry a HE 11 visa type along with your American passport (it costs $200 dollars and it may take from a few weeks to months) OR you can enter Cuba with a valid Cuban Passport (it has to be processed in person, a Birth Certificate legalized by Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry (MINREX) is required. HE 11 visas are valid for 1 entry and they should be used within 90 days after its issuance date.
If you were born in the United States, you can enter Cuba with a valid U.S. passport & you are only required to buy a visa card to enter Cuba (cost of $100 dollars).
A foreign visitor with a multiple-entry visa to the U.S. can also travel to Cuba with us with by purchasing the aforementioned tourist visa ($100 dollars)
Cuba requires visas to be purchased in the country where the trip to Cuba originates!
CUC (to be used in all hotels and tourist places by foreign visitors)
CUP (to be used by local population only for their staples)
The confusing currency (it’s a dual-currency economy- you’ll only be using the CUC –Cuban Convertible peso- and NOT the currency for the local population the CUP – the Cuban peso)
You’ll have to exchange your American Dollars into Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) but U.S. dollars were begun to be accepted as an overall payment method in July 2020 and this may not be the case in the near future (you’ll be able to use your U.S. dollars everywhere)
If you have any CUCs (or CUPs) left at the end of your stay, you can exchange them back to USD at the airport.
No credit/debit cards issued by American Banks are accepted in Cuba:
So, please bring cash with you (what amount? Depending on your purchase interests: inexpensive cigars $80/expensive cigars $500 – naïve art $100s/renowned artists $1000s a piece– cheap meals $20/pricy ones $50- good but cheap rum $20/expensive ones $100- good but cheap drinks $5/pricy ones $10- famous Cabarets like Tropicana $120, etc, etc)
Almost no restrictions except military bases, police, military personnel, strategic government buildings. Your tour guide will provide the specifics and the proper timely warnings if necessary.
You will find a mix of electrical currents and plug types used in Cuba. Around 90% of the hotels and Casas Particulares use a 110-volt current with standard U.S.-style two- or three-prong outlets. However, some outlets are rated 220 volts, particularly in hotels that cater to European clientele. These are usually marked and sometimes accept only two-prong round plugs. For all intents and purposes, you should have personal appliances rated for 110-volt current, with U.S.-style prongs, or the appropriate converters. It is also essential to carry a three-to-two-prong adapter for any appliance you have that has a three-prong plug.
Although the power supply in Cuba is mainly 110 volts, most of the modern hotels (European Joint Ventures like Melia, Kempinski, Iberostar) have dual voltage with all the sockets in the room being 220 volts.
Usually in the bathroom there is an 110 volt socket suitable for shavers and charging batteries.
A 4 gang 13 amp extension lead could well prove very useful.
Havana city (Cuba in general) is very safe. But please do not expose any jewelry and carry only pocket money with you when you are on the road (outside the hotel).
There are Safe deposit Boxes in your hotel rooms where you can leave most of your money and even your passport, there is no need to carry around your passport unless you are entering the US Embassy or visiting a high-ranking Cuban Government building. Your Hotel Guest Card will serve as your ID card when you are outside the hotel premises.
Please drink bottled water at all times and plenty of it to avoid dehydration in the Cuban Heat that can reach scorching levels. It’s OK to brush your teeth and shower with tap water in your hotel room. Most places will prepare cocktails with bottled water.
- As of today (July 2020), some US cell phones do work in Cuba already but make sure you activate your international roaming for better deals (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile have attempted to sign contracts with Cuba, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR CELL PROVIDER for more info). A few US Companies (like Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile) have entered into contracts with Cubacel/Etecsa (Cuban counterparts) but little progress has been made.
- You’ll have Internet access in most major hotels (just in the hotel by BUYING an internet card (service is NOT free), you’ll lose connection as soon as you step out of the hotel) at all times (Wi-Fi will be available), please download Apps like Skype, Google Hang-outs, What’s App and the like since you’ll be able to use them to communicate with the US while inside the hotel.
- Phone calls to the US can be made from your hotel room but they are not cheap (depending on hotel change it may range from $3.00 to $6.00 dollars a minute).
- A working cell phone on the island can be “rented” at the hotel business center if you feel you’ll be needing connection to the US at all times but it’s not a cheap choice.
- The hotel business center offers Internet access, fax, printing capability, stationary, etc.
The hotel has WIFI and you’ll have to buy an internet card with the access number to the WIFI service (it’s like $5 CUC for an hour of connection). It works with tablets, laptops, I-pad, and it is totally interchangeable between those devices.
Please turn on “the Airplane Mode” as soon as the Airplane lands in Havana and never turn it back on during your stay there. When you get to the hotel, connect your cell to the Internet by buying an internet card and then you’ll be get connected to the outside world.
Make sure you download Apps like What’sApp, messenger, IMO, Skype and the like in order to be able to make phone calls/chat over the internet (phone calls can be made from the hotel rooms but see the rates above ↑↑↑)
Some other useful tips:
- Please do not feel obliged to engage in conversation with someone that approaches you on the street: “no gracias” and moving on will do the trick and it won’t be disrespectful.
- Please do not buy cigars from street “vendors” (they are actually those people who will approach you out of the blue moon, no physical sales stands) since you are running a risk not to buy the “real thing”. Cigar Factories and cigar stores will be the right places to acquire these.
- Pricy Works of Art require an Import certificate that should be provided to you by the Artist himself or his rep.
- Bring sun-block, hats and insect repellent along with you. Immunization is not required in Cuba but dengue fever outbreaks have happened in the past, please use your insect repellent.
- Bring an electricity converter/adapter from 220 to 110 volts (Spanish/Europpean hotel Chains will still use 220 volts).
- Please inform your travel escort and tour guide of any dietary requirements you may have (allergies and the like)!!
- No vaccinations are required to enter or travel to Cuba at this moment. However, I advise travelers discuss vaccinations with their doctor or a travel clinic, as it could be a benefit both at home and abroad.