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Can American Citizens Travel to Cuba?

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury regulates travel to Cuba pursuant to the U.S. Embargo against Cuba. Travel must be authorized and satisfy the strict requirements of 1 of 12 license categories. Effective November 09, 2017 OFAC no longer authorizes individual people-to-people educational travel but continues to authorize group travel with an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact.

Can an American Citizen Obtain a Travel Visa for Cuba?

As of September 29, 2017 the U.S. Embassy in Cuba stopped processing visas for Cubans wanting to travel to the United States. However, this policy change has no impact on Americans wanting to visit Cuba. A traveler seeking to enter a foreign country will be issued a visa by that foreign country's government.

Can American Citizens Born in Cuba Travel to Cuba?

Cuban-Americans who departed Cuba before January 1, 1971 may travel to Cuba on their U.S. passport but must apply for an HE-11 visa from the Cuban Embassy. The Cuban government requires U.S.-Cuban dual citizens who departed Cuba on or after January 1, 1971 to enter and depart Cuba using a Cuban passport. Using a Cuban passport for this purpose does not jeopardize one’s U.S. citizenship. However, such persons must use their U.S. passports to enter and depart the United States. All U.S.-Cuban dual citizens should note that the Government of Cuba treats U.S. citizens born in Cuba as Cuban citizens and may subject them to a range of restrictions and obligations.


Is Cuba a Safe Country?

Cuba was declared "Safest Country" for travel and bestowed the Excellence Award at the 38th Annual International Tourism Fair (FITUR) held in January 2018. The majority of crime is classified as non-confrontational (pick-pockets, petty theft, and fraud) and violent crime is virtually non-existent due to harsh penalties for possession of drugs or guns. There are strict sentences on crimes committed against tourists and police remain a visible presence on the streets. Despite political differences between the U.S. and Cuban governments, the Cuban people receive Americans happily and with open arms.

Does the United States Have an Embassy in Cuba?

The Embassy of the United States of America re-opened on July 20, 2015 in Havana and remains open today. As of August 23, 2018 it resumed offering the full range of services to U.S. citizens in Cuba. Any need that would normally be resolved by a visit to your embassy or consulate while traveling abroad should be directed to the American Services Unit. Before departing for Cuba, consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for support when abroad. This will help the Embassy locate you in the event of an emergency or to send important health, safety, or emergency information relating to Cuba.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)


What Travel Documents Are Required?

GENERAL LICENSE - All travel adventures offered by Capturing Cuba are operated under a General License for educational people-to-people travel authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury. This license stipulates that U.S. citizens visiting Cuba must now engage in certain non-academic educational exchanges in Cuba under the auspices of an organization (e.g. Capturing Cuba, LLC) that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. Travelers must be accompanied by a representative of the sponsoring organization and "must ensure they maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba. The predominant portion of the activities must not be with a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party." Travelers must adhere to the approved itinerary and maintain records of their travels for 5 years. Capturing Cuba will provide each participant with a letter of authorization prior to departure.

PASSPORT - All participants must have a valid passport to enter Cuba. The passport must not expire before a minimum of 6 months after your scheduled departure date from Cuba and must have a minimum of 2 blank pages. Foreign passports are allowed only in conjunction with a valid U.S. Resident Alien Card (Green Card).

VISA - The Cuban government requires that all participants carry a Cuban Tourist Card (Visa) while in the country. The cost of the Tourist Card ($50) is included in the price of your adventure and will be provided by Capturing Cuba prior to departure from the United States. Please note that additional processing and shipping fees may apply. Procedures and costs are subject to change prior to or after registration.

PROOF OF RETURN - In an effort to prevent illegal immigration, the Cuban government requires proof of onward travel to another destination. An official airline return ticket confirmation satisfies this requirement.

CUBAN MEDICAL INSURANCE - Cuban authorities require that all visitors to the island purchase Cuban insurance coverage for medical emergencies while in Cuba. Such insurance is included in the cost of your airfare to Cuba. View the airline's website for details and terms of coverage.

Should I Puchase Travel and/or Cancellation Insurance?

We recommend that you consider the purchase of travel and/or trip cancellation insurance. That said, conduct proper research beforehand to determine your needs. The additional cost of insurance does not always outweigh the potential travel risks. Also check to see what type of coverage you may have included with your credit cards, medical insurance, and home owners or renters insurance. Below are links to recommended readings and travel insurance providers:

"Do I Need Travel Insurance?" by Rick Steves
"What Is Independent Travel Insurance and When Is It Worth It?" by The Points Guy

Insurance Providers
Allianz Travel
Travel Guard

Can I Fly to Cuba Direct from the United States?

Commercial airlines resumed direct service between the U.S. and Cuba on August 31, 2016. Direct flights from the U.S. are currently available from the following cities: Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, New York, New Jersey, Boston, Charlotte, and Houston. Southwest, JetBlue, American, United, and Delta service Havana. JetBlue and American service Santa Clara. Please refrain from making travel arrangements until we have confirmed your registration.

Classic Cuba
Arrival Airport: Jose Marti International (HAV)
Departure Airport: Abel Santamaria (SNU)

Heart of Cuba
Arrival Airport: Jose Marti International (HAV)
Departure Airport: Jose Marti International (HAV)

Dance Cuba
Arrival Airport: Jose Marti International (HAV)
Departure Airport: Jose Marti International (HAV)

Art Cuba
Arrival Airport: Jose Marti International (HAV)
Departure Airport: Jose Marti International (HAV)


What is the Weather and Climate in Cuba?

Swept by northeasterly trade winds, Cuba enjoys a subtropical climate which is predominantly warm year-round and averages 330 days of sunshine a year. Cuba’s two clearly defined seasons are the rainy season (May to October) and dry season (November to April), with June being the wettest month and March the driest month. The island’s average temperature is 77º F and average relative humidity is 78%, with August being the warmest month and January the coolest month. June through November is considered hurricane season, with the most activity taking place between mid-August and early October.

When is the Best Time to Visit Cuba?

The best time of year to visit Cuba for general outdoor tourist activities is during the dry season from late November to mid-April. The lack of rain results in lower temperatures and humidity levels, thereby making conditions much more comfortable. The dry season also brings the sunniest days. The time between the beginning of December and mid-April is considered peak tourist season.

When is Hurricane Season?

The official hurricane season in Cuba runs from June through November. Though, according to NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) the likelihood of a hurricane is more likely to occur in mid-August through early October. Cuba experiences the lowest frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms in the Caribbean. Since 1960 only 26 recorded hurricanes have made made landfall. When a hurricane does strike the island, it usually does so in the Eastern regions. Cuba has highly developed disaster preparedness and civil defense networks for evacuations and tourists are given the highest priority. Even in the biggest storms there is rarely loss of life. This is in stark contrast to nearby islands and coastal regions of the United States.


Are There U.S. Health Regulations for Cuba Travel?

Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for general health and safety information, recommended vaccines and medicines, and travel health notices.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) - Health Information for Travelers to Cuba

What Vaccinations Are Required?

Capturing Cuba is not able to provide medical or health advice to our participants. We recommend that you consult with your doctor and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the most up-to-date information, as well as recommendations based upon age and health.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) - Health Information for Travelers to Cuba

Do I Need Medical Insurance?

Cuban authorities require that all visitors to the island purchase insurance coverage from Asistur, a Cuban travel insurance company, for medical emergencies while in Cuba. This insurance is included in the cost of your airfare to Cuba and provides you with basic medical coverage. View the airline's website for details and terms of coverage.

Please note that many domestic health insurance companies do not provide coverage outside of the United States. Before leaving for Cuba travelers should speak with their health care providers to determine if they will be covered. Travelers should ensure that plans cover medical evacuation by air, medical emergencies, and repatriation of remains. Medical evacuations to the United States can cost more than $50,000. Several private insurance companies offer short-term travel medical insurance.

Insurance Providers
Allianz Travel
Travel Guard

What if I Become Sick or Injured During My Trip?

Cuba has the highest percentage of physicians per capita in the world and they take great pride in providing tourists with good medical care. Although there are numerous hospitals and clinics in Havana, Americans generally use the Cira Garcia Hospital in the Miramar neighborhood, which is operated specifically for foreigners and provides better quality care. Medical consultations and treatment at Cira Garcia require payment in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) or with a credit card issued by a non-U.S. bank. The CIMEQ Hospital is a military hospital that can be only be used in extreme emergencies with special permission from the Cuban government.

Is the Water Safe to Drink?

It is advisable to drink only bottled water. However, it is generally safe to eat at businesses that cater to tourists. The food in these establishments is usually prepared and cooked with filtered and treated water. The ice is usually made from the same filtered and treated water.


What Are the Accommodations?

All accommodations are in licensed casa particulares (homestays or bed and breakfasts) with air-conditioned bedrooms, and in-suite private bathrooms with hot water showers. Tour prices are based upon double occupancy.

Do I Have to Pay a Single Occupancy Surcharge if I Want My Own Room?

Accommodations are based upon a per person double occupancy rate. If you are traveling alone we will make our best effort to match you with a suitable roommate. If we are unable to do so for any reason, or if you prefer the privacy of your own room, a minimum single occupancy supplement will be applied to the cost of your trip. Single occupancy is based upon room availability and will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.


What is Included in the Price of My Trip?

All accommodations. All meals. Airport transfers. Ground transportation. Professional guides. Local photographers. Admissions and activity fees. WiFi access card(s). Tips for drivers, speakers, performers, waitstaff, and models. Cuban Tourist Card/Visa. Mandatory Cuban health insurance. U.S. Licensed Travel.

What is Not Included in the Price of My Trip?

Airfare to and from Cuba. Airline baggage fees. Accommodations not in Cuba. Single Occupancy surcharge. Meals not included on the itinerary. All beverages. Fees for admissions, excursions, and other events not listed on the itinerary. Guides, translators, or transportation outside of group activities. Model fees for optional photo shoots. Tips for group leader and guide(s). Tips for any meals, drivers, entertainers, speakers, and models not listed on the itinerary. Personal expenses such as but not limited to WiFi access exceeding the amount provided, telephone calls, laundry service, and mini-bars. Travel insurance. Trip cancellation insurance.