Cuba Travel for US Citizens

by Maria Elena Price - Thursday, February 23, 2017

Requirements for US Citizens Traveling To Cuba

In light of the new requirements for US citizens traveling to Cuba announced in June 2017, the below requirements still apply until regulations are updated by OFAC. Travel arranged prior to the announcement is not affected. Find the OFAC FAQ on the Cuba Announcement here.

For US Citizens, restraints regarding visits for purely tourist and recreational purposes in Cuba are still in place. Cuban travel is more accessible than it has been since the embargo in 1961 because there are additional travel categories that do not require OFAC special licensing. Instead, group tours are allowed under the general license for educational travel, “People to People” (515.565(b)).

“Recreational travel, tourist travel, travel in pursuit of a hobby, or research for personal satisfaction only” remain illegal. Therefore, trips to Cuba are required to be non-commercial as well as purposeful; that being said, since specific licenses are no longer required, this requirement can be met without as much paperwork as before.

This means that US Citizens are no longer required to apply to OFAC for a “specific” travel license. Instead, we provide the General License. The main issue is that you must be engaged in “people to people” activities more than leisure activities.

General License for your ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tour

ExperiencePlus! will provide travelers with a General License for the time they are on tour with us. You will receive a link to this document with your reservation confirmation email after you’ve booked or you can access it here. Our itinerary conforms to all requirements for a People-to-People General License.

Documenting and Retaining Travel Transactions

OFAC regulations require that US-Citizens maintain clear records of travels throughout Cuba, which are to be retained for up to 5 years in the unlikely event that the OFAC solicits them. Therefore, make sure to keep documents regarding purchases or transactions relating to your Cuba travels such as flight and accommodation records as well as itineraries and Daysheets you receive on tour.

Returning to the U.S.

You will only be required to present your license to officials upon returning to the U.S. from your trip to Cuba. As other countries do not enforce the US’s travel embargo regulations, citizens of other countries will not need to do this.

Upon returning home, you will fill out an immigration and customs form. On the form, write “Cuba (under general license §xxx.xxx)” under the “Countries Visited” portion. Usually officials do not scrutinize these forms, and you can freely acknowledge your Cuba travels if asked. You will only be required to show your license to an official if asked, and such a request is rare unless you are transporting tobacco back home.

For further details, please check out the OFAC and US State Department websites and refer to our list which documents are needed.

Maria Elena Price - Maria Elena Malpezzi-Price: 'M.E.' started her bicycle tour leading experiences as a 5 year old, translating ice cream flavors on our first Venice to Pisa tours. Since then, she's led tours in more than 10 countries (specializing in Spain, where she lived for more than a year). With a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and International Affairs and an MBA From the Leeds School of Business at University of Colorado, Boulder she manages the business and its development at the Fort Collins office in Colorado (and of course traveling to Europe in the summers). She loves going out on tour and hopes to manage to travel a bit even though now she is "in charge" of the Fort Collins office! You can e-mail her at MariaElena {at} ExperiencePlus.com.

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