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Everyone traveling from the United States to Cuba, including international citizens residing in/flying out of the United States must self-qualify under one of the OFAC categories of authorized travel and have a visa. You can familiarize yourself with the categories here. Once you have familiarized yourself with the categories, you can visit U.S. Department of the Treasury to register and apply for travel to Cuba. After receiving approval to travel under one of the categories, you may purchase your visa here.
A visa is only valid for 30 days. Hold on to the second half of your visa (Cuban customs will keep the other part) in case you are asked for it later (although this rarely happens).
The licensed categories include:
- Visiting family
- Humanitarian projects or to provide support to the Cuban people
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activities
- Professional research
- Educational activities by persons at academic institutions
- Religious activities
- Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions and exhibitions
- Authorization to provide travel services, carrier services and remittance forwarding services
- Activities of private foundations, research or educational institutes
- Exportation of certain Internet-based services
The general licenses are self-qualifying. Familiarize yourself with the categories from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and determine which category best fits with your purpose of travel. All visas are authorized by OFAC. If you are unsure of which category you should be traveling under please contact OFAC at 1-202-622-2480 or visit their website. Please note: A visa is a completely different document from the Affidavit for Travel. This form is provided by your airline.
Requirements to Travel to Cuba
- OFAC license affidavit
- (See OFAC Categories and Visa for more information on both)
- Health form
- Custom Form
- Keep your day-to-day activity itinerary to avoid any issues with the United States Government upon your return to the United States.
- Keep a copy of your passport as a form of ID and leave your actual passport in a safety box in your hotel. You will only need it in Cuba if you need to exchange money or accept money wire transfers.
- Hold on to the second half-of your visa (Cuban customs will keep the other part) in case you are asked for it later (although it rarely happens).
Yes, you can go to Cuba. Cuba considers all people born in Cuba to be Cuban citizens, regardless of current nationality. If you were born in Cuba and left before December 31, 1970, you will need either a valid Cuban passport or HE-11 visa prior to entering Cuba. For more information about the HE-11 visa, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you were born in Cuba and left Cuba after January 1, 1971, you will need to obtain a Cuban passport regardless of holding United States citizenship and passport. You don’t have the option of applying for an HE-11 visa.
No, if you have a valid passport with a habilitacion and valid prorroga, you won’t need to obtain a visa prior to entering Cuba. Your Cuban passport has a validity of six (6) years, but a prorroga must be obtained every two (2) years in order to keep it valid until the expiration date.
A prorroga is a passport extension and must be obtained every two (2) years in order to keep your Cuban passport valid until the passport expires.
A habilitacion is an entry permit stamped on your Cuban passport for Cubans who have emigrated to the United States or another country. A request for a habilitacion needs to be made only once for Cubans who have left Cuba and have not returned to Cuba for at least 24 months.
- Write down all relevant information about where you’re staying. Googling the address to your hotel so you can tell your driver where to take you, is not a thing in Cuba
- Items that are prohibited in Cuba are narcotics and firearms, except for duly authorized hunting weapons
- In order to export works of art or antiques, the corresponding authorization should be sought from the National Register of Cultural Items of the Heritage Department in the Ministry of Culture.
- It is advisable that visitors bring cotton and similar type fabric clothing. It is recommended that fine woolen and gabardine clothing be brought for use during the winter months and for air-conditioned environments. During the rainy season, a light water proof jacket is recommended. More formal clothing is required for theaters, concert halls, night clubs and formal venues.
- Photos and video footage maybe freely taken, except in restricted and designated areas that are of a military nature. Museums have their own specific regulations.
- Wi-Fi is not available in most places; however, larger hotel chains and restaurants may have it for a small fee or complementary.