This blog post was updated on August 20, 2018.
In mid December of 2014, President Obama announced rather large changes to U.S. relations in Cuba. Part of those changes included the way in which U.S. citizens can travel to Cuba. Only until yesterday did we learn specifically what those changes would mean for travelers. While these new measures certainly make travel to Cuba possible in the very near future, there are a few questions buried in the fine print. Before you start booking your tickets to Cuba, be sure you study up on the changes for U.S. travelers.
Goodbye to Special Licenses: In the past, U.S. travelers would have to apply for a license in order to travel to Cuba. Under the new measures, this will not be necessary for U.S. travelers if they meet one of the 12 existing categories of authorized travel. These categories include official U.S. and foreign government business, family visits, journalistic activity, professional meetings, educational activities and religious obligations. However, if you merely just want to go to Cuba as a tourist, you still do not have the green light. The authorized travel categories don’t include tourism.
Pack Your U.S. Credit Card Because You Can Use It Now: Before the new rules, a U.S. credit card or debit card couldn’t be used in Cuba. U.S. travelers will now be able to bring their plastic to the island country rather than converting all of their trip funds into cold hard cash. This rule will make it easier for U.S. citizens to travel around Cuba, especially by lightening the load of the wallet carrying all of those bills.
Travel Agents and Airlines Can Book Cuba Travel: The new regulations will also spark a change in your flight searches. The updated rules will allow airlines and travel agents to book U.S. travelers to Cuba. In the past, a special license was required to book travel. U.S. carriers won’t be able to fly to Cuba right away but international carriers will have that option.
Leave Extra Room in Your Suitcase and Spend Freely: It’s hard to believe that if an American went to Cuba in the past, they were restricted in terms of how much they could spend each day in the country. The set rate will be lifted, allowing U.S. travelers to spend a bit more freely on their hotels, meals and daily activities. In addition to being able to spend more per day in Cuba, Americans can also load up on souvenirs more freely. You can bring back up to $100 worth of Cuban alcohol and cigars. In addition, you are also allowed to enter the U.S. with up to $400 of other goods.