Yes, you can travel to Cuba from the United States!
By Chaz Chambers (Musician, Tour Guide Leader, and Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways)
Traveling to Cuba from the United States can seem difficult, but it isn’t. Yes, you can travel to Cuba from the US. The hardest part is trying to find the correct and clear information. This blog is here to answer all those questions in a simplified way. You need four main things to travel to Cuba: Flight, Passport, Tourist Card, and OFAC General License (A reason to travel there). Technically, lounging at the beach and traveling as a “tourist” is not permitted.
First, Flying to Cuba is the only way to get there from the United States. There are currently no authorized boats, cruises, or ferries. There are many flights from airlines like American Airlines, Southwest, and Jetblue. At the time of writing this blog, the most popular departure airports are Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Florida, and Miami (MIA), Florida, but there are also direct flights from NYC (JFK) with Jetblue. There are rumors of Delta and United returning soon. Maybe they will have flights from Atlanta again after or around March 2023.
You and your group/family will need valid US Passports that do not expire within six months of returning from Cuba. You can find all the info you need about getting and renewing your passport on the Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html.
Some people also like to call this a Cuban visa, but the official name is a Tourist Card. It is not special for the US, as almost everyone in the world needs a Cuba tourist card that isn’t a Cuban citizen or resident. There are two colors, green and red; from the US, you will only get a red one. Most of these are facilitated directly through the airlines and cost between $50-$100. Both Southwest and American Airlines use Cuba Travel Services: https://cubavisaservices.com/product/touristvisa-card/
You can have the tourist card mailed to you in advance (recommended) or get it at the airport the day you depart.
OFAC General Travel License
There are multiple available licenses for travel to Cuba like Religion, Journalism, and Humanitarian projects. As US travelers, citizens, residents, and all people under US jurisdiction have to fulfill general licensing rules from OFAC (The Office of Foreign Assets Control – AKA The Treasury Dept. of the US Gov.) Even flying from the US could constitute the need to obey the general licensing rules. You can read more about that in a blog we wrote explaining the differences: https://havanamusictours.com/can-americans-travel-to-cuba/.
You will need to understand this list of entities and avoid spending money with them:
Cuba Restricted List: https://www.state.gov/cuba-restricted-list/list-of-restricted-entities-and-subentities-associated-with-cuba-effective-january-8-2021/
This can all be easy for the person who likes to do their homework and learn new things, and likely difficult for some… but as a tour agency we can also give you peace of mind while traveling. Havana Music Tours takes care of the general licenses and ensures you don’t spend money on the restricted list. Make the trip easy, and consider taking one of our cultural tours.
For more info please check out our Frequently Asked Questions about Cuba Tours.