CUBA INFO

FAQS

GENERAL INFORMATION

HEALTH

MONEY AND TIPPING

RECOMMENDED READING

VISA AND FLIGHT INFO

FAQS

Is it legal to travel to Cuba for Americans?

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses within the 12 categories of authorized travel for many travel- related transactions to, from, or within Cuba that previously required a specific license (i.e., an application and a case-by-case determination). Travel-related transactions are permitted by general license for certain travel related to the following activities, subject to criteria and conditions in each general license: 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; and certain authorized export transactions.

In Short…

Travel to Cuba is permitted if the travel falls under the 12 categories of authorized travel outlined above. One of these 12 categories is “Support for the Cuban People”, under which the majority of our trips are categorized under.

What constitutes “Support for the Cuban People” for generally authorized travel for Americans?

OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates prior specific licensing policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are directly incident to Support for the Cuban People activities in Cuba.

Support for the Cuban People travel is defined as:

1)Interaction with individuals and non-governmental organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba;

Furthermore,

(2) Each traveler engages in a full-time schedule of activities that: (i) Enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities; and (ii) Result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba. (3) The traveler’s schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.

While tourism is not allowed in travel to Cuba for Americans, our programs focus on cultural interactions and engagement with Cuban people.

Important: Note 1: An organization that sponsors and organizes trips to Cuba in which travelers engage in individually selected and/or self-directed activities would not qualify for the general license.

• Transactions related to activities that are primarily tourist-oriented, including self-directed educational activities that are intended only for personal enrichment, are not authorized.

For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.565(b).

In Short…

Our Support for the Cuban People programs promote interaction between local Cuban people and American visitors. These programs can be:

Visiting a community art project and interacting with community members
Seeing a professional dance troupe performance and talking with the dancers after-wards
Visiting to local artists studios and galleries and interacting one-on-one with these individuals
Learning more about the environment of Cuba and the conservation efforts by a Cuban expert

Also, in our programs we highly encourage visitors to bring donations to projects that we work with, further supporting the Cuban people.

Are there any documents I need in order to travel to Cuba?

You need a valid US passport to travel to Cuba which is valid for more than six months after your trip to Cuba ends. You also need a visa to travel to Cuba, which can be purchased at the airport when you check-in to your flight (check with your specific air-port if they offer this service).

Before your trip departure you will receive your Certificate of Travel to Cuba, stating that you were traveling to Cuba legally on most likely a Support for the Cuban People program. You are required by law to keep this authorization letter for five years after your return to Cuba.

Custom Latin Travel has used its best efforts to design a trip that is consistent with the general license Support for the Cuban People at 31 CFR §515.574.  Please note however that Custom Latin Travel is not a sponsor of your trip, and each traveler is ultimately responsible for understanding and complying with this general license.

Are there any spending limits for authorized U.S. travelers while in Cuba?

There is no specific dollar limit on authorized expenses. Authorized travelers may engage in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba, including payment of living expenses and the acquisition in Cuba of goods for personal consumption there; other expenditures, other than those directly incident to the traveler’s authorized activities in Cuba, are not authorized.

In Short…

There is no limit of cigars or rum that can be purchased in Cuba. Artwork and handicrafts are allowed to be brought back to the US. These items must be for personal consumption and cannot be resold.

What other requirements should I be very clear on before I travel to Cuba?

  • Travel to Cuba as an American for purely touristic purposes is strictly prohibited. All Experience Cuba tours abide by the rules set forth by 31 CFR § 515.574 (b) Support for the Cuban People Travel OFAC general license.
  • You need to have health insurance in order to travel to Cuba. We strongly advise you to purchase travel and evacuation insurance.
  • Your passport needs to be valid 6 months from the return date of your trip to Cuba.
  • You must purchase a visa or tourist card for travel to Cuba. This can be done at the departure gateway airport before your flight to Cuba, or online at http://www.cubavisaservices.com

GENERAL INFORMATION

Flexibility and Patience

As with many travel experiences flexibility and patience are key to having a positive experience on your trip. Your itinerary is subject to change, and your guide will do their best to keep you informed and up to date with any changes in scheduled activities.

Visa

All US citizens are required to have a tourist visa to travel to Cuba. You can purchase your visa at the departure gateway airport when you check in for your flight to Cuba.

Flight into Cuba

You are responsible for booking your own airfare into Cuba. We are happy to answer any questions you may have prior to booking your air travel to Cuba.

Arrival into Cuba

On arrival, you will proceed to immigration control and present your passport and visa to the immigration officer. You will have your photo taken. Following this, they will buzz you through a door and you will be transported into the baggage claim. After proceeding through a metal detector, you will pick up your luggage and wait to depart the airport with your group. At times the luggage retrieval can be slow. Please remember to be patient! After exiting the airport you will meet your guide and driver outside.

**On occasion an immigration officer might pull you aside to ask you questions regarding your visit to Cuba. This is completely normal. They may take down your passport information, ask you your profession, how much money you are bringing into the country, and where you are traveling in the country. You can feel free to show them your itinerary. Please answer all questions truthfully.

Money

Although credit and debit cards are now permitted to be used in Cuba, they still do not work. Travelers checks as well do not work. It is very important that you bring cash for all of your needs. We will recommend a specific range of amount of cash to bring depending on your amount of time in Cuba and meals included. It is always better to have more cash that you need with you. Most travelers will bring this extra cash home.

HEALTH

Medicine

It is important to bring all the medication that you may need with you. The pharmacies in Cuba are not well stocked and medicines can be hard to obtain. We recommend leaving your prescriptions in their bottles and keeping them labeled.

Health Requirements

No inoculations are currently required for travel to Cuba. However the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that all international travelers have up-to-date tetanus, polio and hepatitis A vaccinations. For more details please visit the CDC web-page on Cuba: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/cuba/.

There is a risk of dengue fever and zika virus in the Caribbean. No vaccine is available to prevent dengue or zika. Travelers can reduce the risk by protecting themselves from mosquito bites, using repellent containing at least 90% DEET or Picaridin on exposed skin. Important to note is that mosquitoes are not common in Cuba, but many bring a small repellent spray with them.

Should you require medical attention during the tour, your main guide will be able to assist you.

Taking care of your self is probably the best protection against getting sick. Part of this is getting enough rest and drinking enough water. Mild diarrhea and sunstroke are two of the most common ailments for tourists in Cuba, and these are preventable with the necessary precautions. Make sure you bring sunscreen to protect yourself, and drink lots of non-alcoholic drinks during your trip.

Insurance

Included in your charter flight is medical insurance that covers up to $1,000 in medical emergencies. We highly recommend you purchase your own evacuation, trip cancellation and additional medical insurance. Allianz Global Alliance is a recommended insurance provider.

MONEY AND TIPPING

Why so much extra cash you may ask?

While we provide many of the meals on the trip, there are a few meals on your own, any extra drinks not included in your meals, taxi rides, gratuities for the local guide and driver, and also any other tipping that you may want to be a part of. These costs add up, and you will not have a way of getting more cash. Here are a sample of some of the costs you may run into:

  • Cocktails: 3-5 CUC
  • Meals at Paladares (restaurants) in Havana: 15-35 CUC
  • Wine (usually imported from Chile): 20-50 CUC/bottle
  • Taxis around town: 1.5 CUC per mile, usually around 5-12 CUC
  • Beer: 2-3 CUC

US dollars are not accepted in Cuba.

US dollars are subject to a 13% tax on converting USD to CUC. Euros or Canadian dollars are subject to a lower exchange rate (4-5% less) which varies daily. We only recommend taking CAD or Euros if you can purchase them in the United States at a favorable rate and with a commission charge of less than 5%.

Tipping

Tipping is a very important part of the tourism industry in Cuba. In a country where the majority of citizens make $15-30 CUC per month, tipping is the predominant reason why people get involved in the tourism industry. While tipping is a matter of personal preference, we often are asked for a guideline and will provide this in your pre-departure materials.

Tipping Guidelines

Bathroom attendants: Less than 1 CUC, small cents (10-25 cent coins)

Housekeeping: 1 CUC per day. We recommend leaving a tip every day as often chambermaids change which rooms they work.

Waiters (for meals on your own): 10% of total bill

Musicians at restaurants: 1-3 CUCs or you can purchase a CD if they offer them (10 CUC normally)

It’s important to budget for these tips, though they are small they can add up, and there will be no ATM available.

We will provide tip guidelines for guides and drivers in your pre-departure material.

Currency Exchange

There are two currencies that are in circulation in Cuba: The Cuban Peso, which is used by local cubans for public transportation and local vegetable markets, and the CUC, the convertible peso. The CUC is the currency we will use. You can exchange money at any hotel or money exchange house. The rate is 1 USD to 87 cents of a CUC.

VISA AND FLIGHT INFORMATION

Visa

All US citizens are required to have a tourist visa to travel to Cuba. You can purchase your visa at the departure gateway airport when you check in for your flight to Cuba or also online at http://www.cubavisaservices.com.

Arrival into Cuba

On arrival, you will proceed to immigration control and present your passport and visa to the immigration officer. You will have your photo taken. Following this, they will buzz you through a door and you will be transported into the baggage claim. After proceeding through a metal detector, you will pick up your luggage and wait to depart the airport with your group. At times the luggage retrieval can be slow. Please remember to be patient! After exiting the airport you will meet your guide and driver outside.

**On occasion an immigration officer might pull you aside to ask you questions regarding your visit to Cuba. This is completely normal. They may take down your passport information, ask you your profession, how much money you are bringing into the country, and where you are traveling in the country. You can feel free to show them your itinerary. Please answer all questions truthfully.