Information for US citizens traveling to Cuba

The advice for US citizens for visiting Cuba has changed slightly since the Biden administration took office. The situation around US travel to Cuba changes regularly depending on relations between the two countries. Find out the latest advice below...

For over 50 years Cuba was pretty much off limits to US citizens thanks to a 1962 trade embargo. Then, after Barack Obamaís 2014 reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, travel restrictions loosened, and major airlines began offering direct flights from the US.

Donald Trump's administration then rolled back some of these changes making it harder for US citizens to travel to Cuba. In 2019, the US Treasury Department placed further restrictions on US citizens by halting educational 'people-to-people' chaperoned group tours run by US tour operators. Traveling to Cuba by cruise ship, private yacht and fishing vessel also became much harder for US citizens.

Commercial flights from the US continue to be permitted. Tours run by both US and non-US vacation companies are now permitted. Independent travel is also allowed as long as travelers stay in homestay accommodation - casas particulares - and support the Cuban community.

So, it's still perfectly possible for Americans to travel to Cuba; whether traveling on a tour or independently - as long as they support the Cuban community and use a non-US tour operator. What';s more, US citizens will find a warm welcome and people keen to engage and share their stories on the street and in their own homes.

If you are worried about traveling to Cuba or just keen on finding out more information, please get in touch so we can put you in contact with one of our specialised Cuban tour operators.
Choosing your category

Choosing your category

All US citizens visiting Cuba have to travel under one of 12 categories; and while in Cuba they can’t have dealings with businesses on the US State Department’s Cuba Restricted List – all of which have links to Cuban military's business arm, Grupo de Administración Empresarial (GAESA). Official rules also state that they’re required to document their trip to prove they were in Cuba for one of the 12 reasons.
If you’re keen to travel around Cuba you’ll need to book a vacation with a tour operator under the 'Support for the Cuban People' category. This will ensure that the tour follows regulations, including a full schedule of cultural activities.
Visiting under the Support for the Cuban People category is a more flexible way to travel. You can visit Cuba independently or with the help of a tour operator, as long as you use privately owned businesses (casa particulares and local restaurants, for example), and avoid transactions with businesses on the restricted list. Under this option, you’ll be able to design an itinerary yourself, the activities you can take part in are more varied, and you don’t need to travel in a chaperoned group - as was the case with people-to-people group tours.
Taking an
organised tour

Taking an organised tour

While itís certainly possible to travel under your own steam, having a tour operator organise your Cuba trip by far the easiest, least-complicated option, whether you want an individual tailor made tour or to travel in a small group. Itíll help you avoid the hassle and uncertainty of designing your own compliant itinerary, as this is done for you Ė and the operator will help you sort out the required documentation, too.

All of Responsible Travel's Cuba tour suppliers for US citizens offer trips under the Support for the Cuban People category.

Returning to the US after visiting Cuba

If you are traveling with non-US citizens and they are planning to visit the US after Cuba, they will need to apply for a US visa. This is because any visitor to the US who has been to Cuba since 1 January 2021 is ineligible for the US Visa Waiver Program, which means that they will not be able to use an ESTA to enter the US.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about US Citizens in Cuba or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.


Every US traveler needs a visa (known as a tourist card) issued by the Cuban government. You can either buy the tourist card in advance from an authorised US agency (your tour operator will be able to recommend one) or buy it at the airport when you check in for your flight to Cuba. As long as youíve been traveling under an approved category there should be no problem having a Cuban stamp in your passport.
Flights & insurance

Flights & insurance

You can still buy direct flights from the US to Cuba. The vast majority fly into Havana but itís anticipated that from late 2022 other destinations will be available too. Airlines plying the route include JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta, United and Southwest. When buying your flight, youíll have to certify that your travel is authorised under one of the approved categories.
All overseas visitors to Cuba must have a travel insurance policy in place that covers Covid-19, and with sufficient cover for medical evacuation by air. Donít skip this Ė itís not unknown for officials to make spot-checks at airports.

Although some US health insurance policies cover you when youíre abroad, you should buy separate health insurance for Cuba. In most cases your tour operator will be able to provide this for you or point you in the direction of a reliable supplier; alternatively, you can buy Cuban government medical insurance when you arrive at the airport.


Cash is king in Cuba, and credit and debit cards issued by US banks, as well as American Express travelersí cheques, donít work here, so youíll need to bring money with you. If youíre worried about carrying large amounts of cash, choosing an organised tour where all accommodation and activities and many meals are included can be an easier option.
Currently it is not possible to officially exchange USD for the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUP). Your best bet is to take EUR instead, which is the easiest currency to exchange in Cuba. You can also get an excellent street exchange of around EUR1:CUP100, as opposed to the official rates which is EUR1:CUP24.
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: Alexandro Espinar] [Top box: vxla] [meaningful interactions: Gareth Williams] [Chaperoned group tour: Mary Newcombe] [Casa particlualr: Dirk van der Made] [Taking an organised tour: Mary Newcombe] [Visas: Fredrik Enestad] [Flights - Delta airlines: Delta News Hub] [Money: Mauro Parra-Miranda]