See the Sights of Cuba (for a Reason)

After a hiatus of more than five decades, commercial flights from the U.S. are making trips to Cuba. In August, Jet Blue became the first of many airlines to fly to the island now that some restrictions for travel have been lifted.1

However, vacationers can’t just book a trip to Cuba simply to see the sights and soak on the beaches. While there may be loose interpretations of the criteria, travelers from the U.S. must document the purpose of their trip and retain their travel receipts for five years upon re-entering their home country.2 For the time being, trips must serve one or more of the following purposes:3

  1. To visit family
  2. To conduct official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations
  3. For working journalists
  4. For professional research and meetings
  5. For educational activities
  6. For religious activities
  7. To attend public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  8. To provide support for the Cuban people
  9. To work on humanitarian projects
  10. To engage in activities of private foundations, research or educational institutes
  11. For exportation, importation or transmission of information/materials
  12. For certain authorized export transactions

Some of these reasons may qualify for what is referred to as “people-to-people trips,” which would accommodate those with more touristy goals.4 This type of trip requires that a traveler have a daily, organized schedule of activities that includes education about and engagement with Cuban culture. For example, taking Spanish or salsa classes, volunteering to teach Cubans English or attending art galleries, museums and musical performances.5

There are organizations that will book and schedule your entire trip, including airline and hotel reservations, local transportation and meals at family-run restaurants, scheduled activities with periods of free time, a local guide and arrangements for the requisite Cuban tourist visa.6

Currently, there are nine airlines approved to fly to different destinations in Cuba: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, Spirit and United Airlines.7

Back to Articles

1Victoria Burnett. The New York Times. Aug. 31, 2016. “How to Go to Cuba Now.” Accessed Aug. 31, 2016.
3U.S. Department of the Treasury. July 25, 2016. “Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cuba.” Accessed Aug. 31, 2016.
7U.S. Department of Transportation. July 7, 2016. “Fact Sheet: DOT Issues Show Cause Order for U.S.-Cuba Service to Cities Other Than Havanna.” Accessed Aug. 31, 2016.

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