As of June 17, 2017, there is a new policy for travel to Cuba. Click here for information about how the new regulations may impact your travel plans

U.S. citizens no longer need to be part of a group tour to visit Cuba. Sounds good, but what exactly does this mean for you? Well, it’s never been easier or more affordable for you to make the trip!

vintage car, Havana, cuba

You can book accommodations, flights (on CheapAir.com, of course, still the only online retailer selling airline tickets to Cuba for eligible travelers), and visit sites and enjoy the cuisine. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to a DIY solo tour of Cuba.

Step 1
Qualify yourself for travel. Review the 12 permitted reasons for travel to Cuba and determine which license allows your visit. For most people, #5 “Educational Activities” in which you will have a full schedule of activities designed for people-to-people contact with Cuban citizens fits the bill.

Step 2
Book your flights on CheapAir. We have daily direct charter flights from Miami and a schedule of other direct flight options from Tampa, New York, and Los Angeles. Since many flights are sold out, you can also contact us for assistance. If you’re traveling from other cities, you’ll need to allow a bit more time for the flight connections. Commercial flights are also being ironed out as we speak (schedules should be out sometime this summer with flights beginning in the fall of 2016). You may also find it helpful to know you can book commercial flights connecting through Mexico City or the Cayman Islands using our site. Basically, our booking engine will serve up the best option based on your origin city. Easy peasy!

Doorway, Old Havana Cuba

Step 3
Arrange your accommodation. This is where it gets a little interesting! More and more Americans are making the trip to Cuba and the travel infrastructure is racing to keep up. There are a few high-end hotels in Havana, but they book out very early. If you’re looking for an alternative, you can stay at the Cuban version of the Bed & Breakfast – a Casa Particular. The Casas Particulares have been a cottage industry in Cuba for many years and are an amazing way to stay in a variety of Cuban homes and experience the real Cuba. It’s now very easy to book them, as Airbnb has scouted out the very best options for travelers. You book a Casa Particular exactly as you would any other Airbnb property.

Step 4
Decide on an itinerary and determine your transportation needs. For some people, an introduction to Cuba might mean hanging out in Havana for a week. If you’re planning to just keep it local, you do not need a car. Taxis (both official and unofficial) are all you might require for getting around, and there’s a load to explore in Havana just within the historic center and along the Malecon. If you’re planning on going further afield, you might want to think ahead a bit more. You can actually book a rental car from the U.S. The only drawback to going this route is the sticker shock. The limited number of Cuban rental car companies are in high demand and command a high price. Be prepared to spend 2 to 3 times what you might spend in the United States for a week. The upside? You’ve got complete freedom to travel about the island’s uncongested roads, stopping wherever you like and exploring villages and cities on your own timetable. Having a car in Cuba is well worth the splurge if you want to get out of Havana and explore.

If you’re the thrifty sort or have a leisurely timeframe in mind, you can get around Cuba using buses like the locals, but it’ll be a less structured affair than you’re used to. In Cuba, local customers know where to catch the bus (sometimes unmarked highway underpasses for inter-city travel), and have a somewhat confusing (to foreigners) queuing system. Working knowledge of Spanish will help quite a bit, but even the most seasoned world travelers on our team have found getting around Cuba without a taxi driver or car, somewhat of a challenge. Cyclists have been doing it for years, and if you’ve got the legs for it, biking is another fantastic way to get around. Also, don’t underestimate local interest in you. Most of the time, the connections you make in Cuba can lead you to an unofficial “cousin” who drives his 1950’s era car around the island for travelers or a guy who knows a guy that can get you to Santiago on Sunday. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Cuba, despite what the government would have you believe. That leads us to the all-important consideration for Americans. Money.

Step 5
Plan to bring lots of cash. Lots of it. American banks are still not synced up to the Cuban banking system so this essentially means no ATM access for U.S. citizens (reports of Master-Card accepting ATMs in Havana are vastly overstated). Most businesses will not accept credit cards. Don’t let this point stress you. Just make a budget and plan to bring 30-40% more than you think you’ll need. Unplanned expenses always come up and you don’t want to be pinching pennies on your vacation. As a thank you for your visit, the Cuban government extracts a $25 fee from each visitor upon exit so don’t forget to set at least that much aside on the day you plan to leave Cuban soil (side note, on most charter flights this $25 is now collected upon departure from the U.S.).

Some people get caught up in what kind of money is best to bring. Keep things simple. Just bring U.S. dollars or Euros. There are plenty of money exchanges (Casas de Cambios) and hotels in Havana who will give you the best exchange rate at the time. Don’t ever exchange money on the street. Keep it official and you won’t get ripped off.

Trinidad, Cuba

Step 6
Research your trip thoroughly. Here’s where you put the trip planner – that persnickety person who likes to schedule things – to WORK. Cuban museums and cultural attractions are set-up as they are the world over, so you’ll want to have a plan of attack on how to organize your activities and keep a list of hours of operation and holidays that could affect those plans (you may not have an internet connection there to confirm the hours after you arrive). You should also keep a few activities as back up just in case Plan A gets derailed. CheapAir also has a great resource in Havana VIP Tours, where you can schedule inexpensive walking tours of Havana whether you’re interested in art, history or architecture. Keep your receipts for cultural activities to demonstrate your visit was filled with “authorized travel activities.” In layman’s speech, as long as you keep records of museums visited, local tours you took, cultural activities attended, etc. – you should be golden. Though most of the time, no one will ask.

Step 7
Take care of the red tape. If you’re going to Cuba you need two documents – the Cuban “tourist card” and proof of Cuban health insurance. These are two very straightforward documents that cause a lot of American confusion. First, the tourist card, which is what a lot of Americans call a visa. In some cases, when you buy a direct charter flight through CheapAir, our charter partners will help you procure the tourist card. If you buy a flight that routes you through another country (like Cayman Islands, Panama or Mexico), you’ll pay for the tourist card in the airport as part of the check-in process. If you aren’t sure which category your ticket falls into, never fear. Just give us a call and we can let you know if you’re going to need to get a card on your own.

Cuban health insurance has nothing to do with any trip/travel insurance you buy here to protect yourself while on holiday. The Cuban government requires you to purchase Cuban health insurance so if you are on vacation and need to be seen by a Cuban M.D. you are covered for that visit. Yep. If you have a tummy ache in Cuba, you’ll get to be up close and personal with socialized healthcare. But it’s a good thing. Cuban healthcare is respected around the world and their insurance is a pittance (under $10/day). If you don’t have it before you land on Cuban ground, you’ll be required to buy it in the airport before being admitted to the country.

Step 8
Enjoy your time in this amazing country! One last tip: for dining, experience paladar culture. Paladares are “unofficial” restaurants operated by citizens. They used to be quite secretive, and speak-easy style in people’s living rooms. But these days, there is more of a mutual understanding between the government and the restaurants. For a few of the best check out Artempo Cuba’s list of attractions. And while you’re at it, take a gander at the post 12 Helpful Tips for U.S. Travelers to Cuba. It was written by an expat American who works in collaboration with the Cuban people and should answer many of your questions about Cuban travel.

We hope we’ve been able to show you how simple it is to travel to Cuba on your own. CheapAir.com has had a number of staff visit the country and their expertise has contributed to this post. We are proud to continue to be the only online travel agency selling charter flights to Cuba, and we aim to make your trip planning process as simple as possible.

That’s all for now. We’d love to hear from any other travelers to Cuba on your experiences and any updates to the information we’ve included in this post. Happy travels!

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177 Comments

  1. The article was very helpful and should make my trip to Cuba enjoyable. I am traveling from a gateway country, Panama City and I would like to know if the visa given to us through Panama City, does this make us authorized U.S. travelers while visiting Cuba?

    Thank you,

    Liria Enriquez

    • Hi Liria, The Cuba travel card is required for all travelers to Cuba regardless of citizenship. The gateway cities issue the card to any visitor on their way to Cuba regardless of nationality.

      • Hi Cheapair team! Firstly, THANK YOU SO MUCH for this page!* I am a British citizen living in London and I would like to travel to Cuba via Miami on December 10 (with a night in Miami at either end of the trip).

        From what I can see, as a non-US citizen, I can travel to Cuba from the US, and I do not need to apply for a travel card for Cuba, nor do I need to meet any of the 12 official reasons for travel. Does this mean I can I simply purchase flights online and show up at Miami airport as a British tourist? I have a valid ESTA (for travel into the US) and I will arrange UK travel insurance which covers me for Cuba. Anything else I need to do? Definitely no travel card/visas required prior to my travel to Cuba?

        Thanks again,
        Sophia

        *(Your page and Q+A are so useful! I hope everything here is accurate. As a NON-US citizen travelling through the US to Cuba, I have really struggled to filter through the different Cuban/UK, Cuban/US embassy and consulate pages and official guidelines. I have had no luck speaking to the Cuban or US embassies here in London- they have only referred me to their websites, which are awful. I have read a lot of conflicting news articles and blogs saying that only US citizens can fly from the US to Cuba, that everyone, regardless of nationality, needs to have a travel card to travel from the US to Cuba. Might I suggest that you write an entire post on “How to travel to Cuba from the US, if you’re not American”. I’m sure I’m not the only person researching this!)

        • Hi Sophia, Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m about to confuse things a bit. So – things are currently in flux with our new administration and the fact that U.S. air carriers have just started flying to Cuba. In the very recent past we DID advise foreign nationals that choosing a reason for travel was just a formality. But we are hearing different things from the U.S. air carriers now (as of just this weekend). As of this writing, the regulations are as follows: Foreign nationals traveling to Cuba from the United States FLYING ON U.S. CARRIERS are required by U.S. law to comply with the same requirements as U.S. citizens. That said, this is quite easy to do. Just find one of the 12 authorized categories that applies to your trip and plan your itinerary. The people-to-people category is the most easy to qualify under.

          Everyone needs to procure a tourist card (the visa). This is not a new development and is required by the Cuban government (along with Cuban health insurance that will protect you if you get ill while in Cuba and need to see a doctor). You can obtain the tourist card on your own (a number of outfits on the Internet assist for a fee), go direct to the Cuban consulate in your country, or purchase as part of your airline ticket. Going this route does depend on the airline, unfortunately. It would be best to reach out to the airline you plan to fly and ask them what their procedure is – can you purchase the tourist card from them on your travel day, do they assist pre-travel date, do they sell you a tourist card as part of your ticket?

          The medical insurance can be purchased when you land in Cuba at the airport and is very inexpensive (just a few pounds a day).

          We likely will update our existing blog posts and do a new post that outlines the travel situation a bit better after January 21st (when things are likely to become more clear and set in stone). But you are planning to travel in December, and for the moment, these details are the most up to date we have. Again, sorry for any confusion.

    • I am planning a trip in Feb and I am a US citizen. Do I actually have to get the people to people license? I thought I read on the UFAC FAQ that My travel only has to fall within the scope of the licnese. Then I called JetBlue and they said I have to actually get the license. I am confused. Diana

      • Hi Diana, There is no paper “license” to get. You do have to get a Cuban tourist card (visa) but that is an entirely different thing. You are correct that there is no license to obtain – you do have to qualify yourself and it is presently on the honor system. Make sure you keep an itinerary and back up documentation to show immigration should they ask you for it upon your return.

      • Hi, just wondering how dud this work out for you with your travel. I booked a trip via jet blue for myself and family and chose the educational/ people to people option as i i plan on visiting museum and landmarks but I am very confused with the licensing requirements any feedback will be truly appreciated.

  2. Is there a contact point at CheapAir or in Miami to help arrange educational visits in Cuba? Thanks, Erica

  3. Is there anyone who has gone to Cuba recently on a US passport? I would love some advice on what you need to do to prove you are there on a people-to-people trip. Thanks!

    • I am confused as to whether Spanish lessons qualify as a people-to-people trip. I would not be taking lessons as part of any under graduate studies or in partnership with any school. Ideally, I would take several hours of lessons a day and then visit a cultural site in the afternoon. Would the Spanish lessons count towards my “full schedule” of cultural events?

      • Hi Marnie,

        Just looking at doing a trip to Cuba and also taking Spanish classes. Could you let me know about your experience and whether you were able to confirm that Spanish classes qualified as people-to-people? I’m reachable at tajeddine (at) gmail dot com

      • Hi Im going on a cruise to cuba and am doing a 5 hr people to people excursion If i do another 4 to visit the beaches eby car would that also be considered acceptable if I need to have at least 7 hrs of people to people. The beach tour is basically that to 3 different beaches. Any help?? Thanks.

        • Hi Celeste, beach vacations (pretty much anything that can be categorized as “leisure travel”) is still expressly forbidden. It’s not a matter of adding up the hours and then tacking it on as a “freebie” because you’re compliant in the other areas. No one from the States is permitted explicitly “leisure/vacation” activities.

      • Hi Irina, All you really need to do now is keep a detailed itinerary of your full schedule of person-to-person activities and any appropriate receipts. When you return to the United States, you may be asked to show “proof” of your “person to person” activities. These items should suffice.

        • what happens if your “proof” of p to p activities ON YOUR RETURN doesnt meet their standards?

    • I traveled to Cuba with an american passport last January and had the time of my life. Make sure you bring brand new bills for exchanging to cucs (convertible pesos). Banks or exchange places will not accept worn out american bills.

    • Hello, I traveled to Havana this August, 2017. We used a travel agency to cruise . We were given a one page required affidavit to state why we were visiting and also purchased a $75 Cuban visa

  4. Im planning a trip to Cuba, besides visiting the cultural sites, I would also love to some of the salsa related places…Also, about some info about Gente de Zona concerts in the island.

    Txs.

    • Hi Carlos, did you receive any advice on salsa places? I’m hoping to visit Cuba next year and would love to maximize on music/dancing experiences

  5. Planning a people to people, on a “Educational” category trip to Havana, but want to take my dad 77 and grandmother 91 with me on this experience (it’s on their last and only bucket list) would taking them on the trip be frowned upon by Cuban Immigration?

    • Hi Noemi, Cuban immigration has no problem with U.S. travelers in general. The Cuban authorities have been processing illegal U.S. travelers for years (they even skipped passport stamps to make it easier for U.S. travelers to not have problems on re-entry to the U.S.) Your family members will not have any problems at all. Just make sure you all get the tourist travel card and pay for Cuban medical insurance (this can be purchased in the airport when you arrive to Cuba in the airport). Cuban medical insurance is required for all travelers.

    • Hi Noemi, You should plan to have an itinerary that outlines a “full schedule” of educational activities (with appropriate backup – receipts from museums, etc.) in case you are queried about it at immigration on your return. I have yet to hear of anyone who has gone through an extensive review at re-entry but it is what the U.S. government requires.

  6. For independent travel under #5 person-to-person, do we submit our itinerary with our application for a “tourist card”? We are 2 traveling, US citizen through US gateway city. WHAT level of detIl is required, and where do we apply?

    • Hi Michelle, the licensure for travel to Cuba is on the honor system. You simply need to put together an educational itinerary that is “full schedule” i.e. no lounging on Cuban beaches or relaxing by pools. If you save your receipts from museums and cultural attractions to present to immigration officials on re-entry, along with your itinerary of scheduled activities you should be good. The tourist card is issued by the cuban government. Often, the price is bundled into your airline ticket or sold to you at the airport (when flying to Cuba through other foreign gateways like Mexico City or Cancun). If you’re not sure if your tourist card is covered, you can ask the airline issuing your ticket. If they are not, they can put you in touch with an agency who can assist you in procuring.

  7. Planning a trip to Cuba through Toronto and am resident in the US. Plan to use the “people to people”/educational category. Am concerned because the category says the activity has to take place “under the auspices of an organization…that sponsors such exchanges to Cuba.” I have Cuban friends to help me set up a cheap itinerary and don’t really want to go on an expensive organized tour. Will I really be okay with an informal but documented itinerary that I set up myself?

    • Hi Janine, the Obama administration relaxed those rules in March of this past year so a sponsoring organization is no longer required. You are correct – simply putting together an educational itinerary that is “full schedule” i.e. no lounging on Cuban beaches or relaxing by pools is all you need. Save your receipts from museums and cultural attractions to present to immigration officials on re-entry, along with your itinerary of scheduled activities to qualify.

  8. The article is titled Travel Without a Group but even #5 requires “an employee, paid consultant or agent of the sponsoring organization is accompanying the group travel.”

    I’m confused.

    • Hi Grace, the Obama administration greatly relaxed the “12 Official Reasons for Travel” in March of this year, effectively opening it up to a DIY itinerary without the “employee, paid consultant, or agent” caveat. Of course, tour operators who have been organizing cultural exchange trips to Cuba for years would say that at this point in the game (while Cuba is still ramping up its travel infrastructure to accommodate the U.S. traveler), it still might be prudent to use an agency that already has contacts on the ground in-country. However, more intrepid sorts can easily put together their own itineraries as long as they have the supporting documentation for re-entry (receipts from cultural institutions, museums, etc.) and an educational itinerary (lying on a beach and drinking mojitos is still verboten).

  9. Hi,
    I’m looking to travel to Cuba in December 16 to attend the Jazz festival. Looking to go for 10 days on my own. I’m a US citizen. Would I be covered under the 12 reasons to travel? Also I’m very interested in art and history so would love to visit museums and other day tours.
    Thanks,
    Ivy

    • Hi Ivy, Yes- anyone can now travel as a people-to-people trip without an organized tour. You do have to have a full schedule of cultural activities and you will need to have an itinerary as well as receipts for any museums you visit, etc. available on your return back into the United States. And remember – leisure travel is still forbidden so do not plan on lounging on the beaches. This post is a great resource for how to build your own trip. Good luck to you.

  10. Hello, I plan to visit Cuba in July 2017. For the itinerary, can it be a full scheduled typed on Microsoft word? Would this be all I need upon return with receipts of all the educational museums I visited? do they need receipts of the hotel and restaurants? car rental? etcetera?

    • Hi Mike, Yes. A typed itinerary would be great in addition to any and all receipts you can obtain from museums and other cultural monuments/activities. Hotels and restaurants are not necessary as they do not support “educational” rationale. Licensure for travel to Cuba is now on the honor system. There’s no concern about the Cuban authorities having issue with U.S. travelers. It is on you to make sure you have the proper documentation for your return in clearing customs at U.S. immigration. And remember, leisure travel is still verboten. No lounging on beaches permitted just yet.

  11. I read online (in only one place) that US visitors to Cuba, obtaining a visa from Cuba, need to have a passport that will be valid six months after their return (not just valid at the time of the trip). Is this true, or still true? I t was not clear to me whether this was a requirement of the US government or Cuban government, and whether it is accurate.

    Also I second comments about how helpful this CheapAir website is!

    • Hi Lisa, This is a requirement of the United States government and actually doesn’t only apply to Cuba. Your passport should have 6 months validity for any international travel. Thanks for the kind words about our site!

  12. I would love to plan a visit to Cuba soon. I have direct family members living there i.e. an aunt and cousins. What are the rules and regulations for visiting under the “Family Visit” Visa? Am I required to stay with family members during my stay there? Am I allowed to book a hotel room? Also, what are the duration of stay parameters? Can I stay for a week , 2 weeks, etc.? Any other pertinent details that I should be aware of? Do I need to produce some sort of receipts as well? Note, I am a “GOES Trusted Traveler” Member. Will this access apply to my re-entry into the United States?

    • Hi Vivian, Here is a comprehensive explanation of “family visits”: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/travel-news/can-i-travel-to-cuba-additional-information-for-u-s-citizens/. You do not need to stay with the family members, but it is possible on your return to the states you could be asked questions about who you visited and where you stayed while in Cuba. I am not aware of GOES helping you in terms of expediting re-entry. On the Cuban side – no one will ask you anything. The rules have been put in place by our government. You can definitely book a hotel room, though we recommend casas particulares over hotel (Airbnb has a nice selection for Havana now). Cuban hotels are overpriced and service/standards are generally not what we are accustomed to in the United States. The casas particulares are lovely, are often in historical buildings and operate exactly like bed & breakfasts. You do need to keep receipts of your travel itinerary if you travel to Cuba under a “person to person” license. The main rule for all U.S. travelers is that we are still not permitted leisure travel. So, family visits are fine. Person to person cultural exchange is fine. Hanging out on the beaches and backpacking around the island to swim and drink mojitos is still forbidden.

  13. I will visit Havana in Dec 16, flying in from Miami. I have a Swedish passport. Do I still have to have a “travel itinerary” along one of the 12 reasons for visit?
    Harry

    • Hi Harry, Our rules only apply to U.S. nationals (and they are on the honor system at this point). If you book a flight to Cuba on our site, you will be asked for a “reason” for travel, but it’s just a formality for you.

  14. Hello! Thank you for all of this wonderful information. I intend to travel in December on one of the Southwest flights from Tampa. I intend to travel under “educational activities”. I will travel independently with my wife and young children. I will type my full schedule in a Word Document and keep all receipts. Do I need any special documents upon leaving Tampa? Also are you saying I can’t step foot on one beach? Do you know of any contacts in Havana to work with in designing a cultural/ educational experience?

  15. Hello, I have been trying to find more info and this is the first site that I actually understood… Thanks so much for that. I want to travel to Cuba in Feb 17, I understand I have to do a itinerary for my whole time there but does it have to be everything Im doing back to back? Can I spend my day doing educational activities and then in the evening or morning for a few hours go to the beach or do an activity, i.e. clubs, bars, or swimming? (But not put it in the itinerary?) Is the people to people a better route then Support the local Cubans?… Again you guys are awesome!

    • Hi Michelle, Technically you should avoid any activities that can be considered leisure activities. However, of course you have to eat and no one is going to bat an eye if you have a drink or two while dining, in the evening as you mention. At the moment, the U.S. government is issuing “licenses” on the honor system, so the documentation you provide is all of the documentation that customs/immigration will have on your re-entry. You should be careful to have a “full schedule” of education activities. If you do, you should be golden. Incidentally, the Cuban authorities could care less what you do – no one is going to be monitoring your activities on the Cuban side – your best bet is to keep receipts and an itinerary in case you get detained/questions on re-entry.

      • Awesome.. Also what does a Full Schedule mean? Like a Full 8 hours (Average working/school hours) or a literal full day schedule?.. and just one last question… I know that before if someone went to Cuba through other countries like Mexico and got a Cuban visa the Cuban government would stamp the visa instead of the US passport and then you would return to the US through Mexico again there would be no problem. Is that still possible? I appreciate you guys!

        • Hi Michelle, Yes, it is still possible to enter Cuba through a “3rd party country” for lack of a better phrase. Going that route means you have to concoct a story with immigration/customs about where you were when you left the country (Mexico will still have record that you left Mexico, there will be an electronic gap in your whereabouts). Frankly, it’s quite easy to go to Cuba legally now – we don’t recommend breaking the law. Not sure when you are planning your trip, but it’s even possible that full diplomatic and trade relations will be up and running by the time you go without any restrictions at all. A full schedule just means your principal activities in traveling to Cuba should be to foster person-to-person interaction with the Cuban people and not “vacationing.”

  16. We have canadian and dutch nationality. Our flight leaves from montreal-New york-Havana end of december. The cuban consulate in montreal can not provide the tourist card to us since our flight is through the US. The airline company requires me to buy the visa and reply to one of the 12 criteria. Can i tell them i reply to the educational one and is that all i need to tell them to get my visa through them? do i still need to put together the whole educational schedule even if we are not american citizens and officially, we are “allowed” to be tourists in cuba? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Manon, Yes, as long as you are not living in the U.S. as a foreign national on a work or student visa, our bureaucratic business is just a formality for you. Don’t worry about the educational schedule. In any event, the Cuban government doesn’t care where their tourists come from. It is the United States government that can query its citizens when they are returning and attempting to clear immigration. Hopefully this will clear things up for you. Have a great time in Cuba!

  17. How can I apply for a visa? I am travelling from the US, can I purchase the visa when arriving at the Airport in Cuba?

    • Hi Mildres, the Cuba tourist card cannot be purchased when you land in Cuba and must be purchased in advance. If you fly through another country to arrive there, you can purchase the card before boarding. If you are flying on an American commercial flight originating in the United States, it is best to communicate directly with the airline to find out how to proceed. Though the flights to Cuba are new, most of the airlines have a plan in place to assist you in procuring the card.

  18. Did I see somewhere on Cheapair that if you buy your tix through this site, it will include the health insurance needed? I thought I read that somewhere and now I can’t find it. Also, does our purchase of our plane ticket through cheapair include our visa as well? Thank you for this exceptionally informative article. Also, do you know of any language schools that you could recommend?

    • Hi Aubrey, We do not sell the Cuban health insurance. It’s quite easy to obtain once you land in Cuba. In fact, the officials will make sure you purchase before leaving the airport. Cuban health insurance is just a few dollars a day, and should be purchased for the total number of days you plan to be in Cuba. Because there are quite a few different airlines now selling commercial airfare to Cuba, you should check with them directly to see how they handle the tourist card/visa. Some airlines are including the visa with the ticket price, and others are selling it separately at the airport (there is a fee). You can expect to pay anywhere from $50-75 for the card. I would reach our direct to a company that specializes in cultural exchanges with Cuba on the question of the language schools. Good luck to you!

  19. Hello!

    First of all thank you for the very useful blog post.

    I have a doubt: I am a foreign national (from Europe) residing in the US on a student F1 visa. I would like to visit Cuba from the US (i.e the flight itinerary would be NYC – HAV – NYC ). Does the license system apply to me as well? So do I have to prove I have a full schedule of meaningful interactions?

    Best,
    Renata

    • Hi Renata, I wish I could answer this for you with 100% certainty. You should check the terms of your student visa and make sure there are no restrictions for your travel to Cuba. But yes, the short answer is that you may have to travel under the licensing guidelines unless you can get a 100% confirmation that you will not be detained when returning to the United States after your trip.

    • also is there anyway to make sure we will not get denied at the airport? we are going to plan our own “people to people” trip and is their a chance they might not accept our itinerary when we get there?

      • Hi Brooke, The Cuban government has been happily looking the other way for many, many years when Americans have come to the country illegally. The issue is not with the Cuban government (who is thrilled to accept anyone’s tourist dollars), but our own. We require the itinerary/receipts and correct “licensure”for clearing our return immigration. The Cuban health insurance is to cover you should you need medical attention while in Cuba and most people just buy it when they land in Cuba. They have a desk at the airport where you can purchase coverage for as many days as you will be in the country. It is very inexpensive (a few dollars a day) and covers you should you need to see a physician while there. It is required for all visitors. Hope this helps.

  20. Hi – I’m a Canadian citizen, but I am working in the US on a temporary work visa. I’d like to visit Cuba in the spring, traveling via Canada so I can visit my family on the way. Do the people-to-people travel provisions apply to me? Should I prepare an education itinerary and keep receipts just in case? I mean, I think I’d do a lot of cultural exchange anyway, but I would like the option of a beach day or two. Appreciate your input on this.

    • Hi Andrew, I wish I could answer this for you with 100% certainty. You should check the terms of your work visa visa and make sure there are no restrictions for your travel to Cuba. But yes, the short answer is that you may have to travel under the more strict licensing guidelines for person-to-person licensure unless you can get a 100% confirmation that you will not be detained when returning to the United States after your trip.

  21. Hi! I already bought tickets for a trip to Cuba in mid January and am already planning a full itinerary. I was wondering how much vigilance should I expect to get from Cuban authorities while in Havana and if they will be expecting me to visit those specific places. Will I be required to show pictures upon my re-entry to the US? Also, saying I do not include it in my itinerary, could I experience night life in Cuba without getting in trouble? Thank you for this post, it has been the most helpful.

    • Hi Gabi, the travel restrictions for Americans are from the U.S. government and have nothing to do with the Cuban authorities. The Cuban government has happily welcomed “illegal” U.S. travelers for years. Your documentation and itinerary are for the U.S. customs and immigration agents that you’ll visit on re-entry Leisure travel is not sanctioned by the U.S. government, so you should be careful as to what sorts of activities you participate in that do not specifically fit the “person-to-person” guidelines.

  22. Hi Cheapair team!

    Thanks for the information on the page (and in the comments)! I just have a query regarding the visa process for non-US citizens travelling from the US to Cuba. I had thought previously that given I am an Australian citizen I did not have to satisfy the people to people itinerary stuff but have just called American Airlines (the carrier I am flying with) after they emailed me with the tourist card process, and they informed me that because I am departing (and returning) to the US that I still need to satisfy these requirements, so was just wondering if you were able to clarify this.

    Cheers!