Get all the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding regulations, recommendations, and tips before enjoying a memorable experience in Cuba and most Caribbean destinations.
1.- How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect individual people-to-people travelers who have already begun making their travel arrangements (such as purchasing flights, hotels, or rental cars)?
The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Provided that the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to the President’s announcement on June 16, 2017, all additional travel-related transactions for that trip, whether the trip occurs before or after OFAC’s new regulations are issued, would also be authorized, provided the travel-related transactions are consistent with OFAC’s regulations as of June 16, 2017.
2.- Is authorized travel by cruise ship or passenger vessel to Cuba impacted by the new Cuba policy?
Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will still be able to engage in authorized travel to Cuba by cruise ship or passenger vessel.
Following the issuance of OFAC’s regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities identified by the State Department generally will not be permitted. Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.
Visiting Close Relatives (Section 515.561(a)): U.S. persons, and persons traveling with them who share a common dwelling as a family, visiting close relatives who are:
- Related by blood, marriage or adoption;
- No more than three generations from the U.S. persons or their common ancestors; and
Any one of the following:
- Cuban nationals;
- Persons ordinarily residing in Cuba;
- Persons who qualify under the general license for educational activities identified in (5)(a)(i) through (iv) below, provided that such generally licensed persons will be in Cuba for more than 60 days; or
- Persons located in Cuba under the general license for official government business identified in (2) below.
Official Government Business (Section 515.562): Persons who are:
- Employees, contractors or grantees of the U.S. government, foreign governments, or intergovernmental organizations of which the United States is a member or holds observer status; and
- Traveling on official business of their government or intergovernmental organization.
Journalistic Activities (Section 515.563(a)): U.S. persons:
- Regularly employed as journalists by a news reporting organization;
- Regularly employed as supporting broadcast and technical persons;
- Freelance journalists with a record of previous journalistic experience working on a freelance journalistic project; or
- Broadcast or technical persons with a previous record of broadcast or technical experience who are supporting freelance journalists meeting the requirements in 3(c) above, and
- Who are engaging in a full-time schedule of activities that does not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a full-time schedule.”
- Who are:
Professional Research and Professional Meetings:
Professional Research (Section 515.564(a)(1)): Persons who are traveling to conduct professional research, provided that:
- The purpose of the research directly relates to their profession, professional background, or area of expertise (including graduate level full-time study);
- Such persons do not engage in recreational travel, tourist travel, travel in pursuit of a hobby, or research for personal satisfaction only; and
- Such persons will engage in a full-time schedule of activities that does not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a full-time schedule;” or
Professional Meetings (515.564(a)(2)): Persons who are traveling to attend professional meetings and conferences in Cuba, provided:
- The purpose of the meeting is not to promote tourism in Cuba;
- The purpose of the meeting directly relates to their profession, professional background, or area of expertise (including graduate level full-time study);
- Such persons do not engage in recreational travel, tourist travel, or travel in pursuit of a hobby; and
- Such persons engage in a full-time schedule of activities that do not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a full-time schedule.”
- Professional Research (Section 515.564(a)(1)): Persons who are traveling to conduct professional research, provided that:
Educational Activities and People-to-People Exchanges:
Educational Activities (Section 515.565(a)): Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including U.S. academic institutions and their faculty, staff, and students, whose travel is for:
- Participation in a structured educational program in Cuba as part of a course offered for credit by a U.S. graduate or undergraduate degree-granting academic institution that is sponsoring the program;
- Non-commercial academic research in Cuba specifically related to Cuba and for the purpose of obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree;
- Participation in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution, provided that credit will be accepted toward the undergraduate or graduate degree;
- Teaching at a Cuban academic institution related to a program at the Cuban academic institution, provided the person is regularly employed by a U.S. or non-Cuban academic institution;
- Sponsorship (including payment of a stipend or salary) of a Cuban scholar to teach or engage in other scholarly activities at the sponsoring U.S. academic institution;
- Educational exchanges sponsored by Cuban or U.S. secondary schools involving participation by secondary students and a reasonable number of parent chaperones in either a structured educational program or a formal course of study offered by the secondary school or other academic institution, provided that the course or program is led by a teacher or other secondary school official;
- Sponsorship or co-sponsorship by U.S. academic institutions, and attendance by faculty, staff, and students of the participating U.S. academic institution, of non-commercial academic seminars, conferences, and workshops related to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba;
- Organization of, and preparation for, educational activities listed in (5)(a)(i) through (vii) above by faculty members and staff of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution or secondary school; or
Facilitation by an organization subject to U.S. jurisdiction, or a staff member of such organization, of licensed educational activities in Cuba on behalf of U.S. academic institutions or secondary schools, provided that:
- The organization is directly affiliated with one or more U.S. academic institutions or secondary schools;
- The organization facilitates one or more educational activities authorized in (5)(a)(i), (ii), (iii), and (vi) above; and
- By prior agreement, the educational activities must be accepted for credit by the affiliated U.S. academic institution or approved by the affiliated secondary school; or
People-to-People Exchanges (Section 515.565(b)): Organizations and individuals participating in educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree; provided that:
- The exchanges occur under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes programs that promote people-to-people contacts;
- Travel must be for purposes of engaging in a full-time schedule of activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from the Cuban authorities;
- Each traveler has a full-time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interaction with the Cuban people. The President has instructed Treasury to issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.
- An employee, consultant or agent of the sponsoring organization travels with each group to ensure that each traveler has a full-time schedule of educational activities; and
- The predominant portion of the activities is not with or on behalf of individuals or entities acting for Prohibited Government Officials or Prohibited Communist Party members (as defined in the CACR).
- Educational Activities (Section 515.565(a)): Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including U.S. academic institutions and their faculty, staff, and students, whose travel is for:
- U.S. Religious Organizations (Section 515.566(a)): Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including U.S. organizations and their members and staff, traveling to Cuba to engage in a full-time schedule of religious activities.
Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Athletic and Other Competitions and Exhibitions:
Amateur or Semi-Professional International Sports Federation Competitions (Section 515.567(a)): Amateur or semi-professional athletes and athletic teams participating in athletic competitions, provided that:
- The athletic competition is held under the auspices of an international sports federation of the relevant sport;
- The U.S. federation of the relevant sport selects the U.S. participants in the competition; and
- The competition is open for attendance and, in relevant situations, for participation by Cuban nationals.
Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Athletic and Non-Athletic Competitions, and Exhibitions (Section 515.567(b)): U.S. persons participating in public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic competitions (not covered in (7)(a) above), and exhibitions, provided that:
- The event is open for attendance and, in relevant situations, for participation by Cuban nationals;
- All profits (after costs) from the event are donated to a non-governmental organization in Cuba or to a U.S.-based charity for purposes of promoting people-to-people contacts or benefiting the Cuban people; and
- The traveler must organize and run, at least in part, any clinics and workshops.
- Amateur or Semi-Professional International Sports Federation Competitions (Section 515.567(a)): Amateur or semi-professional athletes and athletic teams participating in athletic competitions, provided that:
Support for the Cuban People (Section 515.574): U.S. persons supporting the Cuban people, provided that:
The activities are of:
- Recognized human rights organizations;
- Independent organizations designed to promote a rapid and peaceful transition to democracy; or
- Individuals or nongovernmental organizations that promote independent activity to strengthen civil society in Cuba; and
- Such persons will engage in a full-time schedule of activities that does not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a full-time schedule.”
- The activities are of:
- Humanitarian Projects (Section 515.575): U.S. persons developing and participating in humanitarian projects, such as medical and health related projects, construction projects designed to benefit legitimately independent groups, environmental projects, formal or non-formal educational training projects, community-based grassroots projects, small scale private enterprise projects, agricultural and rural development projects, certain micro financing projects (except for loans, extensions of credit and other financing prohibited in Section 515.208 of the CACR), and projects to meet basic human needs, provided that such persons will engage in a full-time schedule of activities that does not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a full-time schedule.”
- Private Foundations or Research or Educational Institutes (Section 515.576): Private foundations or nonprofit organizations or research or educational institutes with an established interest in international relations collecting non-commercial information relating to Cuba, provided that the travelers will engage in a full-time schedule of activities that does not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a full-time schedule.”
- Exportation/Importation of Informational Materials (Section 515.545): U.S. persons engaging in activities directly related to the exportation to, importation from, and transmission to and from Cuba of information and informational materials, provided that such persons will engage in a full-time schedule of activities that does not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a fulltime schedule.”
Exportation of BIS Authorized or Licensed Goods:
- Authorized or Licensed Goods (Section 515.533(d)): U.S. persons engaging in activities directly related to market research, marketing, commercial sales negotiation, delivery, or servicing of items that BIS has authorized or licensed, provided that such persons engage in a full-time schedule of activities that do not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a full-time schedule;” or
- Medicines and Medical Supplies (Section 515.559(d)): U.S. persons engaging in activities directly related to market research, marketing, commercial sales negotiation, delivery, or servicing of medicines and medical supplies that BIS has authorized or licensed, provided that such persons engage in a full-time schedule of activities that do not include free time or recreation “in excess of that which is consistent with a full-time schedule.”
If a potential traveler does not qualify for one of the above general licenses, he or she must apply for and obtain a written specific license from OFAC. Our company cannot provide travel services until he or she presents the license to us.
If you have any questions regarding the license requirements, please contact OFAC at (786) 845-2828.
For more information visit the OFAC website.
Yes. US citizens and all Non-Cuba born travelers including U.S residents, and foreign nationals within the United States are subject to U.S jurisdiction. Cuba issues different types of visas, depending upon the proposed activities in Cuba. The Cuban government will issue “tourist visas” to U.S. persons who qualify for the general license to participate in people-to-people exchanges. (The tourist visa is a type of visa issued by the Cuban government for general travel. It does not mean that U.S. persons may engage in tourist activities). Cuba may require a different visa for persons who will conduct certain professional activities in Cuba.
ABC Travel can assist you with obtaining your visa. The cost of the “tourist visa” is $75.00. Other types of visas have different prices. Please visit our Cuba Travel Documents page for more information.
There is no maximum on what you can bring back from Cuba anymore.
Normal Customs charges and fees will apply to any importation of goods.
There is a mandatory emergency medical travel insurance required by the Cuban Government. that will be included in your airline ticket with a cost of $25. This will cover medical emergency in Cuba (non pre-existing conditions). For more information contact http://www.asistur.cu/
For additional coverage, including flight cancelations, delays and lost baggage, ez-travel can assist you with selling travel insurance through STARR Companies.
Both 120 and 220 voltz are used in Cuba. The older historical hotels have 120 voltz in the rooms. The newer or remodeled hotels, run on 220 voltz.
Tipping is expected in Cuba. Suggest 10% on Tipping.
Emergency (Equivalent to 911)
7-2040624 / 7-2066635
CALZADA E/ L Y M
53-7-833-3352 / 833-2326
53-5-286-1607 AFTER HOURS
53-7-8668527 or 8668339 (Insurance included in airline ticket – Emergency contact).
2639 16ST NW
WASHINGTON DC 20009
OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS
1500 PENNSYLVANIA AVE NW
2ND FL ANNEX
WASHINGTON DC 20220
Passengers are expected to check-in 3 hours before the commercial flight is scheduled to depart. The air carrier will close each flight 60 minutes prior to departure. If any passenger arrives after the flight has been closed, boarding might be denied. In this case, the passenger will need to be accommodated by the airline and penalties and charges will apply.
Currency & Money
- Currency (Bills only, no coins) from your Country of origin (US dollars subject to a 13% surcharge)
- You will need your PASSPORT to perform transactions with your Credit Card.
- At this time US Debit Cards and Credit Cards do not work.
- Parallel Currencies CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) and the CUP (Cuban Peso) 1 CUC = 24 CUP. You are unlikely to come across, or need, the CUP if you are staying at a resort hotel.
Despite its subtropical climate, Cuba has distinct summers and winters. Winter is between November and April, with nice temperatures between 75º to 80º F. Periodically it rains due to cold fronts moving through the island. The climate is very similar to South Florida in comparison. May through October is off-season and is the hottest period with temperatures between 85º and 95º F, and the possibility of severe storms and hurricanes, most notably in July – September. Casual, comfortable, and light clothes are your best bet. It is always wise to bring a poncho or light wind-breaker (water resistant) in case it rains. Unless you are in Cuba for business, there is little use for a suit and tie. However, a cocktail dress or pair of khakis may be needed for a night out at the club or restaurant. Always bring comfortable walking shoes, flip flops, and sunscreen.
All of Cuba runs on 110 Voltz and 60 hz. The outlets are for flat prongs. However, the Parque Central Hotel has 220 volts. If staying there, make sure you bring an adapter/converter like the ones used in most of Europe (round prongs).
The rooms at most of the hotels are equipped with hair dryers. However, they are attached to the wall and are not the most convenient and comfortable to use. For the ladies that are accustomed to blowing their hair properly, you may want to bring your own compact hair dryer.
Medical Supplies and Sundries
Although larger hotel stores carry some goods, travelers to Cuba should bring their own medicines, vitamins, bandages, contraceptives, sunscreen, toothpaste and toothbrushes, shampoo, soaps, prescription medications (in their original bottles) and other essentials as none of these items are readily available. It is best to assume you will have difficulty finding daily essential items in Cuba. It is recommended that travelers also pack rolls of toilet paper, tissues, pre-moistened towelettes, and anti-bacterial wash to anticipate the chronic shortages one can encounter on the road at locations outside of the hotel.
There are no coin laundries in Cuba, and most hotels offer a laundry service that charges on a per piece basis.
We recommend that you only use tap water for brushing teeth, etc. Drinking water should be bottled.
We encourage our travelers to bring along a few items to leave behind. Your itinerary includes several visits that would benefit from your generosity
If you are staying in a Hotel you will have internet access. If you are staying in a “Casa Particular” (private home), most likely you will not have internet. Many parks and public areas now have Wi-Fi. You will need to buy a card at the hotel or any Etecsa (telephone company) office to be able to access the Wi-Fi.
Cuba is in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. Some years they observe daylight savings time, and some years they don’t.
Water in Cuba is purified in the main tourists areas, however bottled water is readily available and recommended.
Car rentals, taxis, and buses are available. We can provide transfers from the airport in Havana to hotels at reasonable prices in air conditioned vans or cars. We can also arrange private transportation for your entire stay in Cuba, including transportation to other cities by car, buses or airplane.
Should I make reservations with another agency because I have not received confirmation?
No. Do not double book. Cuba is very slow about confirming reservations, and Americans are accustomed to obtaining immediate confirmation. Find an agency that you trust and be patient enough to allow that agency to book your flights, hotels, and transfers.
In order to better provide efficient and adequate telecommunication services between the United States and Cuba, a new OFAC general license will facilitate the establishment of commercial telecommunication facilities linking third countries and Cuba.
The commercial export of certain items that will contribute to the ability of the Cuban people to communicate with people within Cuba, in the United States, and the rest of the world will be authorized under a new Commerce license exception (Support for the Cuban People (SCP)) without requiring a license. This will include the commercial sale of certain consumer communications devices, related software, applications, hardware, and services, and items for the establishment and update of communications-related systems.
Additional services incident to internet-based communications and related to certain exportations and reexportations of communications items will also be authorized by OFAC general license.
Cuba is in general a safe place to travel. But, like anywhere, opportunistic street crime can happen.
Do not exchange money in the streets even when they offer a cheaper rate of exchange.
Do not bring bling.
Do not take pics of police or soldiers.
Do not fall for strangers offers.
Know your pesos: Cuban pesos have man faces of Cuban heroes and CUC have monuments.
Always stash cash. Do not rely on credit cards or travelers checks.