Just about everyone knows that the United States has recognized Cuba and restored diplomatic relations. For over 50 years, the U.S. had no diplomatic relations with the country. Former Prime Minister, Fidel Castro was considered a pariah. The U.S. had placed an embargo on all imports and exports to Cuba along with restrictions on doing business with that country.
Americans will be allowed to visit Cuba, however, officially, they can’t visit as a “tourist.” Instead, they need to have what the U.S. government considers “a good reason to go”. According to the U.S. government, there are 12 official reasons that you can give to obtain an approval to visit Cuba. They are:
- Family visits
- 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.
Though you’re not allowed to visit Cuba as a tourist, you are allowed to visit to provide “support for the Cuban people,” so technically, you could take your next vacation there.
The following is an excerpt from usnews.com (US News and World Reports) with full attribution at the end of this post.
Americans will be required to have a full-time schedule of authorized activities “intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence.”
Plenty of activities could fall under that category, and the White House suggested it wouldn’t be splitting hairs. “There’s no shortage of opportunities for Americans to build that type of meaningful schedule or people-to-people engagement while they go to Cuba,” said Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes.
Visitors must keep records for five years about their activities in Cuba, but won’t have to submit them unless asked. The Treasury Department said it would monitor compliance but offered no details.
During the restrictions, banks and credit card companies were prohibited from doing business in Cuba. According to the US embassy in Cuba you currently cannot use credit or debit cards in Cuba. Work under the assumption that you’ll be buying with cash and only cash.
If you want to bring home some Cuban souvenirs you’ll be allowed to travel with a maximum of $400 worth. Of that $400 only $100 can be in alcohol and tobacco.
In part 2 we’ll discuss airlines and traveling to Cuba.
Cuba bracing for influx of US visitors after move to end last meaningful travel restrictions
March 16, 2016, at 4:30 a.m.
Published by US News and World Reports
Written by Josh Lederman, Associated Press