Americans will still be able to travel to Cuba in 2022. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are still a few restrictions in place, which can make the process a little more complicated than just hopping on a plane. In this guide, we will cover all of the authorized travel categories and explain the financial restrictions you’ll need to be aware of. Let’s get started!
Fidel Castro, communism, cigars, and the Cuba Crisis of 1962 are the first things that come to mind for many people when they think of Cuba. But there’s so much more to this country than its controversial past. From the warm climate and lovely beaches to the forested mountains and fascinating colonial architecture, Cuba is a country that has something for everyone.
And with tourism on the rise, now is the perfect time to explore all that this island has to offer. So put aside your preconceptions and come see for yourself what makes Cuba such a special place.
In recent years, Cuba has become increasingly popular with tourists from all over the world who are looking to experience its unique charm. If you’re thinking of visiting Cuba for the first time, you won’t be disappointed. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in this wonderful country.
Cuba is a Caribbean island unlike any other. As famous authors Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene describe, its lifestyle is truly one of a kind.
In addition, Cuba has an extensive history involving pirate treasures, martyrs, and heroic exploits of revolutionaries. These factors all contribute to making Cuba a truly unique and unforgettable destination.
So, can Americans travel to Cuba?
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about traveling to Cuba as an American.
Can Americans Travel to Cuba in 2022?
The short answer to the questions is; yes!
While the United States has had a complex relationship with Cuba for many years, the process of traveling to Cuba has become much simpler in recent years. Americans are now able to travel to Cuba for certain authorized purposes, provided that they obtain the necessary documents and adhere to the regulations.
The Cuban Tourist Card, also known as a Cuban Visa, is required for all travelers. In addition, travelers must have travel insurance and must self-certify under one of the 12 authorized travel categories. While some restrictions are still in place, Americans can now enjoy exploring this fascinating country.
And please read on, there are numerous things you need to think of when legally visiting Cuba as an American.
Covid-19 travel restrictions when traveling to Cuba
Please note that Covid-19 information is subject to change with short notice at any time. Always make sure to contact your airline for any specific requirements before boarding your flight. The Covid-19 information in this section was updated in June 2022.
Covid-19 infections in Cuba are currently at a low level with only 1 infections per 100K people reported in the last week at the time of writing.
Always make sure to check official recommendations from the CDC before going.
According to current information from the US Embassy in Cuba, these are the most important current rules for Entry.
- US citizens are permitted to enter Cuba
- All travelers must complete a confirmation form (health and biographic data) which you find online here.
- All travelers are subject to random Covid-19 testing upon arrival
- Vaccinated travelers can enter Cuba without showing a negative PCR-test.
- Unvaccinated travelers have to present a negative PCR-test upon arrival. This test can not be older than 72 hours.
Travel advisory from the United States Department of State for travel to Cuba
“Exercise increased caution in Cuba due to demonstrable and sometimes debilitating injuries to members of our diplomatic community resulting in the drawdown of embassy staff.
Country Summary: Numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees suffered demonstrable and sometimes debilitating injuries during their service in Havana. Affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms including ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, and difficulty sleeping. We continue to investigate how the health of our diplomats and their family members was severely and permanently damaged. These symptoms occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences (including a long-term apartment at the Atlantic) and at Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri in Havana.“Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/cuba-travel-advisory.html
What do you need before going to Cuba as an American?
There are a few things you need to take care of before packing your suitcase and heading south to Cuba.
It’s really easier than ever to travel to Cuba from the USA now and it’s usually no more than two stops away from your local airport with one of the major airlines.
These are some of the cities that offer non-stop travel from the USA to Cuba:
- New York, NY
- Boston, MA
- Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Miami, FL
- Orlando, FL
- Tampa, FL
These are the requirement you must adhere to before arriving at the airport in order to visit Cuba legally.
Valid US passport
You need a valid US passport that is also valid for at least 6 months after your return date from Cuba.
The Cuban officials at the point of entry do not look at this, but some airlines do. So make sure to really check up on this before you go.
Please bear in mind that the Passport Card (in credit card size) is not valid for entry into Cuba. You will need your full-sized passport.
Cuba Tourist Card
Every visitor that intends to travel to Cuba, despite origin needs a Cuba Tourist Card which acts as a kind of visa. This Tourist Card needs to be in your possession before you board your flight at your departing airport.
Buy the Cuba Tourist Card from your airline
A convenient way of getting your hands on this special visa is to buy it directly from your airline. Most airlines going from the USA to Cuba will have this as a service when you buy your ticket(s).
We recommend checking your available flights via Skyscanner where you have the possibility to find some really good deals.
It’s also very easy and convenient to buy the Cuban Visa online.
The visa itself comes with a $50 fee and a surcharge fee on top. This additional fee varies between the different suppliers but you can expect it to be in the range of $25 to $35 per person.
It’s important to remember that the restrictions in place are not made from Cuba but from the USA, and one of the most important restrictions to keep in mind is how to not use your American debit/credit card while traveling the island nation.
Americans need to declare a valid Travel Category before entry to Cuba
There are 12 valid travel categories, and Americans can only visit Cuba for specific reasons that fall under one of these categories. The most common category used by travelers is the “Support for the Cuban People” category, which allows travelers to engage in activities that support the Cuban people.
Other popular categories include “Educational Activities,” “Religious Activities,” and “Journalistic Activities.”
It’s important to note that travelers cannot use the “Support for the Cuban People” category for tourism purposes. Travelers who want to visit Cuba for tourism must choose a different category.
These are the 12 Valid Travel Categories to chose from
- Family visits
- Official business or the US government, foreign government and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research
- 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 informational materials
- Certain export transactions
If you’re unsure which category to choose, you can consult with a travel agency or the Cuban Embassy. Whichever category you choose, make sure you have all the necessary documentation to prove your rationale for travel.
You need a valid Cuban Health Insurance
While most travelers are aware that they need to have some sort of health insurance before embarking on their journey, many are less familiar with the nuances of foreign travel insurance.
For instance, did you know that if you’re planning a trip to Cuba, you’re required to have Cuban health insurance?
The good news is that it’s easy to obtain; simply head to the insurance booth at the Havana airport before proceeding through customs. For just a few dollars per day of travel, you can rest assured that you’re covered in case of any medical emergencies.
The Cuba Restricted List
The Restricted List is maintained by the US State Department and consists of quite a lot of companies, hotels and organizations with connections to the Cuban military.
As an American citizen, you are not allowed to spend money at any of these facilities. That means that you are prohibited to stay at any of the hotels on the list (there are quite a lot of them) or shop at any of the 10 or so stores in Old Havana.
You are also not allowed to take part in any activities organized by the companies or organizations on the list.
The list is reviewed and updated every six months, so it’s important to check before you travel.
If you’re not sure whether something is on the Cuba restricted list, you can always ask the State Department. They’re usually pretty helpful.
Keep your reciepts
The US government is allowed to request these from you for up to five years after your trip. While it’s unlikely you’ll be asked for them, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Save your airline tickets, hotel reservations, tour confirmations, and any other documents related to your trip. If you’re asked to provide these, simply hand over the appropriate paperwork and continue on with your life.
There’s something special about Cuba that keeps travelers coming back year after year. Maybe it’s the stunning beaches, the rich culture, or the friendly locals. Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that Cuba is a popular destination for American travelers.
And despite what you may have heard, it’s actually quite easy to visit Cuba with a US passport. All you need to do is sort out a few formalities, bring cash, and keep all your receipts.
Once you have your visa, make sure you pack enough cash to cover your expenses while in Cuba. US credit and debit cards cannot be used in Cuba, so cash is the only way to go. When it comes to Exchange rates, Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) is pegged 1:1 with the US dollar, so that makes things nice and easy.
Just be sure to keep all your receipts from any purchases made in Cuba, as you’ll need these to exchange your CUC back into USD when you leave.
And that’s really all there is to it! With a little bit of planning, you can be on your way to Cuba in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cuba
How far is Cuba from Miami?
The distance from Havana in Cuba to Miami in Florida is 228 mi (367 km).
How far is Cuba from Key West?
The distance between Havana and Key West is 105 mi (169 km). The closest Cuban land from Key West is approximately 90 miles away.
Can you see Cuba from Key West?
No, not really. Using only your eyes, it’s pretty hard to see 90 miles even in extremely good weather conditions.
Is there a Cuba travel ban in effect for Americans?
No, the US government does not have a Cuba travel ban in place. By traveling under one of the approved 12 travel categories, US citizens can travel to Cuba.
What language do they speak in Cuba?
The official language in Cuba is Spanish. The diverse ethnic groups have had a big influence on the language and you can hear a slight difference between the Cuban Spanish and the traditional Castillan Spanish spoken in Spain.
What is the currency of Cuba?
The local currency in Cuba is the Cuban Peso (CUP) which is commonly referred to as ‘moneda national’. This currency is used primarily by local Cubanos. Cuba also has the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) which is pegged 1:1 to the US Dollar.
What is Cuba known for?
Cuba is known for a lot of things: its beaches, its cigars, its music, and its colorful architecture. It’s also known for its delicios food (which is a blend of Spanish, African and Caribbean cusine). Some of the most famous people from Cuba re Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Cuba is also home to one of the most well known prisons post 9/11, the Guantanamo Bay.
We can not have a list like this without mentioning Cuban cigars and Cuban rum. And last but not least, the vibrant colourful classic American cars roaming the streets.
What is the religion in Cuba?
Cuba is a mostly a Roman Catholic country, although the combination of cultures and backgrounds has produced a genuine syncretic religious landscape in which African religions and Catholicism have given rise to the well-known “Santería.”
Santería is a religion that worships saints, or orishas, which are derived from Catholic saints that were brought over to Cuba by Spanish colonists.
Can I stay at hotels in Cuba?
The U.S government has authorized travel to Cuba for Americans, as long you are staying in hotels that aren’t on the State Department’s restricted list and your trip is otherwise legal. A very good idea is to rent a room from a local family in a Cuban casa particulares. There are a lot availale on sites such as Homestay.