What you need to know about traveling to Cuba

CheapAir now offers flights to Havana, Cuba! We are pleased to be the first online travel agency to offer our customers this unique experience. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you if you’re thinking about traveling to Cuba:

 Havana, Cuba at night

1. Is it legal to travel to Cuba?

U.S. citizens and residents are only permitted to travel to Cuba for one of 12 authorized reasons. They are:

  • 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
  • certain authorized export transactions

The good news is that if you fit into one of these categories, you qualify under a “general license” and no longer need a “specific license” issued by the U.S. government. You can book your flight on CheapAir.com and, before you complete your purchase, we’ll ask you to specify which of the 12 reasons applies.

2. What’s different about booking a flight to Cuba?

CheapAir now offers nonstop flights from Miami to Cuba. The primary difference compared to booking a flight anywhere else is that you must travel for one of the 12 reasons approved by the U.S. government. Miami offers daily service to Havana and a more abbreviated schedule to other Cuban destinations. There are also flights to Havana from New York (JFK) and Tampa. You can review the complete schedule of Cuba flights.

If you’re a more adventurous type, some of the other options that we present combine two airlines and stop in an intermediate country (such as Mexico). You must still travel for an approved reason, and will be asked to provide that reason at checkout. CheapAir will package it all together for you and let you make one seamless purchase, but bear in mind that if you are checking luggage, you will have to collect your bags at the gateway city (usually Mexico City) and then re-check them on to Cuba. If you cancel or change, or if one airline initiates a schedule change that affects your itinerary, the policies and penalties of each airline would be applied separately.

3. Do I need a Visa to travel to Cuba?

Yes, but getting one couldn’t be more simple. It costs the equivalent of $25-30 USD to obtain a Visa for travel to Cuba and you can get one at the airport in Mexico City (or whatever other gateway offers service to Cuba).

4. Do I need special medical insurance to travel to Cuba?

Cuba requires non-U.S. medical insurance. There are agents who will sell you a temporary policy upon arrival at the Havana airport for a reasonable rate (roughly $3 USD per day). When traveling direct from the U.S. the price of your flight includes a Cuban health insurance policy (valued around $46).

5. Can I check my bags all the way to Havana?

If you’re taking a direct flight from Miami, Tampa or New York, you will be able to check your bags straight through to your Cuban destination. On flights routed through Mexico City, you will have to check your bags to Mexico City (baggage fees apply per the airline, of course) at the airport on your departure day, claim them once you land, and then re-check them for your onward flight to Havana. In that instance, the same is often true in reverse for the way home.

6. Will I need to stay overnight in Mexico City?

Often times, yes. Because of flight schedules and limited service to Havana, there are frequently no possible same day connections. Your itinerary may require an overnight in Mexico City for one or both directions. On the upside, Mexico City is a fantastic city for a stopover!

7. If I have an overnight in Mexico, where should I stay?

There are plenty of hotels in Mexico City and you’ll see a good range of choices from value to elegant. You can book these directly with CheapAir.com. Our team has researched a few properties close to the airport, all of which offer complimentary airport shuttles, free WiFi and express checkouts:

• Doubletree by Hilton Mexico City Airport Area, from $78 / night
• Ramada Aeropuerto Mexico from $105 / night
• Fiesta Inn Aeropuerto Cd. De Mexico, from $138 / night

Backpackers and travelers

8. I’ve read that Cuba doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to support U.S. travelers. Is this true?

There are a number of comfortable and well appointed hotels in Cuba, but there is a limited number of rooms, and some amenities (WiFi for example) are not as widely available. There are plenty of taxis in Havana and, while you’ll pay more than a local, they are generally safe and the drivers courteous. More broadly speaking, Cuba doesn’t yet have the capacity to handle a large influx of U.S. travelers but there is likely to be a significant amount of development in the coming years.

9. Can you recommend a hotel in Cuba?

While CheapAir doesn’t yet offer hotel bookings for Cuba properties, we have done some of the research for you in key locations. The following properties are in good locations and boast very positive reviews from former guests. Plus, you can book directly online from their websites, all in English:

Havana

Melia Cohiba

A Cuba 5-star experience. Guests report this is in a great location in Havana for both business and relaxation. It’s located near the coastline, offers a café/nightclub, a cigar lounge and an art gallery, and of course, a swimming pool. $250-$400+/night.

Hotel Saratoga
Location, location, location! This hotel, recently renovated, is in a very busy area of Havana, across from the Capitol building. Elegant, grand and guests rave about the views—which they are likely enjoying from the rooftop terrace. Note: booking is not entirely online for this property; you must submit a reservation request (email) and go from there.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba
If you’re seeking a slightly more humble and historic experience, this may be the property for you. This hotel dates back to the late 1920s. The land it sits on has a history of pirates and towers and cannons—and the eclectic history has rolled over into this hotel’s architecture, a mix of Art Deco, neo-classical and Moorish; in fact, some say it may be one of the most unusual buildings in the Caribbean region.

Varadero

Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa
Adults only. Think white sand beaches, swim-up pool bars, spa service and fine dining. Guests rave about the gardens, romantic atmosphere and top-notch service.

Melia Las Americas
This property is an all-inclusive option in Cuba’s major resort hotspot. This hotel is known to be a good bang for your buck, and it attracts a lot of golfers and convention business. All the typical resort goodies apply: spa, pool services and fine dining.

Cuba Travel FAQs

10. Are the hotels in Havana comparable to hotels in the U.S.?

There are a few high-end hotels in Havana with very limited capacity, but the short answer is that state-run mid-tier hotels are a decidedly mixed bag, and there has been no need to meet the demands of higher volumes of U.S. travelers until now. For a list of nice properties that have received good reviews from travelers, please review CheapAir.com’s list of recommended hotels in Cuba.

The other accommodation option for travelers is to take advantage of family-run guesthouses called casas particulares. These ‘private’ businesses have long been an unofficial side gig for Cuban families for years, but the internal relaxation of restrictions for Cuban income have dovetailed with the U.S. embargo relaxation and now creates a more competitive market. That translates to more options and better accommodation for foreign travelers. Especially in Havana, there are many colonial-era guesthouses on offer (some which are quite stately). If you think along the lines of a stateside bed & breakfast you’ll not be far off. Some of these casas particulares you can search and find online.

11. Is it safe to travel in Cuba?

In general, travelers will find Cuba’s safety to be on par with any other westernized country. Violent crime is virtually non-existent to tourists, but petty thievery is on the rise in areas popular with foreigners and you should never exchange money with people on the streets. Common sense will take you far. Taxi drivers are as honest as taxi drivers anywhere else (running an inflated meter for foreigners is commonplace), but when you’re paying the inflated rate of $5 versus a local’s fare of $1 USD for a twenty or thirty minute taxi ride you might find it hard to detect yet alone quibble over. Your belongings will be safe if you leave them at the front desk of even the most basic hotel and some higher end hotels have room safes.

12. Are there ATMs in Cuba? Can I use my credit card?

Most U.S. citizens who travel abroad are used to easy access to ATMs (even in very remote locations). At the moment, ATMs are not available in Cuba for U.S. travelers, though banking relationships are in the beginning stages. In theory, Cuban ATMs could work for Americans traveling abroad in the near future. For now, you’re going to need to bring cash with you and convert to the Cuban Peso at local banks. If your stopover in Mexico City is for more than a few hours, you can also pull money out in Mexican Pesos. But be warned, the Mexican Peso to Cuban Peso exchange rate is notoriously bad. You’re better off exchanging USD, EUR or CAD for Cuban Pesos. Euros and Canadian dollars historically get a more favorable exchange rate on the ground in Cuba. In theory, MasterCard is now accepted in Cuba but trying to find a merchant to accept it is difficult.

13. How can I get from the airport in Havana to my hotel? What are my ground transport options? Are there taxis? What if I want to get around the island? Can I book a rental car?

You can book a taxi from the airport in Havana or book a rental car through one of the car hire companies with a counter at Jose Marti International (Havana Airport) like Car Rental Cuba (carrentalcuba.com). You’re better off booking a car to drive around the island, unless your travel is through a pre-booked tour operator. At the moment, there’s not an easier, friendlier way to see Cuba than by driving yourself though, if you prefer, Cubana Air has a full schedule of commuter flights between Havana and Varadero as well as to other points around the island.

14. Will my cell phone/tablet work in Cuba?

It stands to reason that cell phone coverage will be available soon, but at the moment your American cell phone will not work in Cuba.

WIFI Access in Cuba

15. Are there Internet cafes? How can I stay electronically connected?

Cuba has one of the most restrictive Internet policies in the world. There are no Internet cafes and most Cubans do not have service at all. Some hotels have service for foreigners, but expect to pay a premium, and encounter slow connection speeds. Our best advice is to enjoy your time in Cuba ‘unplugged.’ Over time, internet and digital connections will improve.

We hope this is a helpful guide for your Cuba travel planning. You can let us know any thoughts or questions in the comments below, or simply begin your search for a flight to Cuba today.

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250 Comments

  1. Excellent information. Thank you.

    To fully comply with the travel rules, I will be pursuing an “educational” objective as the principal purpose of my trip. Are there agencies in Cuba offering such tours in Havana in particular? I am aware of turn-key educational charters from the U.S. but will be making my own air travel through CheapAir.com!

    1. Too bad for you!! If you never been there, that’s what it looks like, you are going to miss a lot, and what you could do in Cuba , you’ve never ever could do in Mexico. I’ve been there 5 times, obviously it was 15 years ago, but I will never ever forget it. It’s like what happens in Cuba, stays in Cuba:))) Trust me, if you single ,and you should go there single , you will have best time in your life for 10 X cheaper than anywhere else, and you will be hunted by girls:)))))

      1. Hi Alex. How did you get there? Any tips? I want to travel to Cuba but many of the agencies charge a premium price

  2. You have the rate to flight to Cuba so expensive…hope you could decrease it in the near future because nobody will buy a single ticket through you to flight to Cuba….

    1. Hi Jorge,

      Thanks for the feedback. Those rates are from the airlines directly. CheapAir.com does not set these rates. Once the U.S. airlines start opening more routes to Cuba, we suspect the pricing will go down some. Definitely keep checking back with us.

  3. Sounds terribly restrictive and expensive. No internet? No basic hotel accomodations? Not it’s worth the hassle. Probably wait till a wee bit more freedom shows up.

  4. I would not buy a plane ticket to Cuba and if I am going to spend my money on a vacation I do not want to go to a 3rd world country.

    1. You don’t know the wonderful places and people you are missing. Open your mind and you will enrich your eyes and soul.

      1. Hi cubana I’m an American citizen but my husband is Cuban,we are planning on going to Cuba to visit his family,is there a special permit that I need to be able to enter Cuba???

        1. Hi Karen, You do need to have a Cuba Tourist Card to visit Cuba. This is either issued at the airport (if you are not traveling direct from U.S.) or must be procured before you travel on your own if you are traveling from a U.S. gateway. Some of our charter partners will assist you with this process, but it depends on the itinerary you choose.

          1. Hello, I am an American citizen who is planning to marry a Cuban who has his residency. We would like to go the day after we marry to visit his family and see Cuba. If we fly from Toronto, do I need a special permit or proof of our marriage. I say this because at that point our travel documents will have different names still. Thank you!

    1. Lets just say that Cuba is 100% safer than America or even Canada is. People will always try to sell you stuff (esp the Jineteros) but that’s is if you say NO curtly but politely.

    2. Pat–I’ve been to Cuba recently and Cuba is actually considered to be one of the safest countries in the world–no problem for you to go.

    1. Hi Kim,

      Sorry about that. We’ve seen a huge demand for Cuba which is overwhelming our servers. We are aware of the errors and are working to resolve the issue. We hope to have this resolved shortly. Please check back with us within 24 hours.

  5. I have been to Cuba and Cuba is a mess! Why not go to Miami instead? You could go to “Little Havana” if you want culture. If you do still opt for Cuba, beware there is an exit tax of about $40 per person

    1. Hi Bobby,

      We’re not the deciders on the these rules, but its safe to say that if you don’t qualify for any of the reasons listed, then you should wait till more of the restrictions are lifted. We will continue to keep everyone updated as the rules for traveling to Cuba evolve.

  6. I have been to Cuba over 50 times, having gone on a US Treasury License. I have been to over 30 countries and there is no safer country in the world. You will find the people there extremely upbeat and friendly, unlike the people is former Eastern block communist countries (although i do love the people there). Make sure and visit Fort Elmora, which was built in the 1600’s to protect Havana Bay. The view at sunset is rated by most well know travel guides as the most romantic view in the world. Try to get out away from the city to see the real rural Cuba if possible. The streets of Havana are always busy even late at night, but I have walked them 100’s of times and have never felt unsafe. Most of the younger generation (below 40) speak English very well, so the language barrier is minimal, especially in the city. Medical care is excellent, but their are few modern pieces of equipment for major issues. I think they have one MRI, and 3 CAT scanners on the island. Food is incredible, amd chicken is the main protein in dishes. The only thing that has dramatically changed in the last 10 years is the quality of Cuban cigars. Years of poor soil conservation has runied the tobacco production. Many people sell cigars on the street and most are like fake Rolex’s sold in NYC. But the alternative is to buy them in the officail state store, and you will pay 15 times higher. One important area. I do not know the civilian policy, but if you know people who have family in Cuba, be sure and take them medicine. Simple pain relievers, and decongestants are hard for the average Cuban to come by.

    I recommend Cuba as one of my favorite destinations. You will feel extremely welcome there.

    1. I’m so happy to read that there are some americans that visited and enjoyed my country. Cuban people are very kind and friendly. Thanks for you comment, it make my day

      1. I LOVE CUBA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        yes many of us love Cuba who appreciate the beautiful culture and the beautiful people– don’t pay attention to the Debbie Downers!

  7. Just tried a few cities (NYC, DC, Philadelphia) and dates and got back,

    “Uh-oh. None of our partner airlines have any flights available which match your search criteria”

    Couldn’t get one single quote. Not sure if this is just a glitch, or are there really no flights from these major cities???

    1. Hi Paul,

      Sorry about that. We’ve seen a huge demand for Cuba which is overwhelming our servers. We are aware of the errors and are working to resolve the issue. We hope to have this resolved shortly. Please check back with us within 24 hours.

    1. Nice! We’ll live vicariously through you. Let us know how the trip goes and if you have any tips for travelers. We love sharing useful information that travelers need.

    1. Hi Maria,

      That would be up to you. There are 12 designated reasons for traveling from the U.S. to Cuba, so if you qualify for one of these reasons then you should be okay.

  8. I thought that you still need a general license to go to Cuba. The rule changed in that you no longer need a specific license anymore but you do need a general license. You get the general license if you fit one of the 12 categories but your site says that you don’t need any license since these 12 categories are the exception to the license rule. Can you clarify this and were did you get this information? thanks

    1. Hi Sheryl, The reality is a bit more complicated. At this point in time, visits to Cuba for tourism (i.e. lying on a beach, sipping mojitos, etc.) is still off limits to US citizens. Under the new agreement between US and Cuba, Americans whose travel fits into one of the 12 approved categories for travel, can do so without a license. What that means is you will not be required to go through any formal licensure or application process. By indicating that your travel falls within one of these categories, you effectively are on the honor system with the government. It is a violation of US law to disregard these travel categories. You can read all about the rules in this Face Sheet issued by the Dept. of the Treasury: http://1.usa.gov/1ye5dsH. CheapAir is now pleased to be booking travel for folks who meet the criteria. Hope this information helps!

      1. I would like to know if I need to bring proof at the airport to show that I am visitng their based on one of teh 12 categeories. I am a professional nurse, so what evidence do I bring?

        1. Hi Roy,

          No general license proof is required at the airport. Upon booking, you’ll select your reason for travel which we will document in your reservation. You will need the proper documents like Passport, Visa, Medical insurance, etc.. that are required though.

          1. So in regards to this line “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.” Do we have to prove this in some way or on the application just say thats what we are going for? Would going to museums, etc qualify for this?

          2. So in regards to this line “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.” Do we have to prove this in some way or on the application just say thats what we are going for? Would going to museums, etc qualify for this?

  9. Going to Cuba next week. Are both USD and Mexican pesos easy to change into CUC? Which gets a better rate? Which would you take to change?

    1. Hi Judy,

      You will need to bring your USD or Mexican pesos to convert at a local bank in Cuba to CUC. Avoid exchanging elsewhere (like a hotel), since they not be regulated by the government. Keep in mind there will be fees and surcharges at the bank. It’s typically an additional 10% for the surcharge that Cuba charges against your USD – it’s the only foreign currency that gets hit with this additional fee. The USD to CUC rate is about even at 1.0000 to 1.0000 and the Mexican peso to CUC is about 0.0657 to 1.0000.

      1. Better to take Canadian Currency, or Euro to get the best exchange. Only take USD for emergencies. USD currency is surcharged 10% everywhere to exchange. Locals don’t want it either as they cannot exchange it at the present time. Great country, extremely safe, great hotels and resorts, but for example a 5 star all inclusive is not equivalent to a 5 star in Mexico, it is on par with a 3.5 to 4 star in Mexico. Keep in mind that hotel swimming pools are not heated so they will be very cold during the winter season….the ocean is warmer!! Locals are very poor….take some school supplies for the local children and ask the hotel management to distribute; even small gifts for your maid, like toothpaste and soaps go over well. Very friendly people, gorgeous beaches…try it….you’ll love it!

  10. Does anyone have any advice for getting around the 12 restrictions? If I traveled to Cuba in the near future (I would like to go before its full of Hiltons and Mariotts) I would technically be a tourist, but is there any way to flub this, like say ‘Journalistic Activity’ for my travel blog (wink wink, doesnt exist) or ‘Religious Activities’, to umm enlighten my soul??

    Basically, Id like to know how serious these restrictions really are.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sam,

      We’re not the deciders on the these rules, but its safe to say that if you don’t qualify for any of the reasons listed, then you should wait till more of the restrictions are lifted. We will continue to keep everyone updated as the rules for traveling to Cuba evolve.

  11. Hi guys, I’m a Cuban citizen living in Brazil and will be visiting Miami next month. I wonder if I would be able to book and travel from Miami to Havana and back with the flights you are selling. Basically my question is, do you need to be an US citizen or Cuban living in the US to travel in these flights?

    1. Hi Mak,

      As long as you have the proper travel documents needed like Visas, passport, etc… then you should be okay to travel provided you hold citizenship.

    1. Hi Lynn,

      Some routes are very limited with their availability. It is also possible that some flight schedules are not out yet. Where are you departing from? Are you flexible with your dates or did you have set dates in mind?

  12. Hello,
    I am a citizen and resident of Madrid, Spain. This summer I will be spending 3 weeks in US, and I would love to travel from Miami to La Havana in between, one week. Is it possible as I am not an american resident?
    thank you

    1. Hi Jamie,

      As long as your country allows it, then you shouldn’t have a problem. You would need to confirm with your local government what documents would be required.

  13. I have a question: Say I qualify for one of the twelve categories and book a ticket to Cuba from Miami. Upon returning from Cuba to Miami, are we required to prove that our activity fits one of those twelve categories? Is there any measure taken to ensure this or is it just based on the honor system, i.e., I return, state that I was involved in educational activity, and then have passport stamped and reenter the US? Thanks.

    1. Hi Donna,

      That’s correct. When you select you’re reason for travel, it will be documented for you internally. There is no required proof due, but it is advised that you meet one of the 12 approved reasons set forth by the new regulations.

  14. This is exciting to hear about the opening of “general licenses” rather than having to apply for a specific license. However, how can I know if I qualify for one? For example, to go for educational activities, can I schedule tours, Spanish classes, or Cuban dance classes as a dancer, or will I have to go through an educational institution? How do I know if I meet the eligibility requirements for an educational purpose, and what proof if any is required in going or returning by the US government so that I can be sure that I won’t be fined for “illegally” traveling to Cuba? Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      No further permission from Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is required to engage in transactions by a person who meets all criteria in a general license. Individuals wishing to engage in activities that may fall within the scope of a general license should review the relevant general licenses contained in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to determine whether their travel-related transactions are covered by such general licenses. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction who wish to engage in any travel within the 12 categories of activities specified in the CACR that does not meet the requirements of a general license will need to apply for a specific license from OFAC. For additional information, you can refer to government’s FAQ’s here: http://1.usa.gov/1sCOBaX

    1. Hi Lamar,

      Unfortunately non-stop flights are only available from Miami and New York right now. More cities will be added as time goes on, but you can still book a connecting flight from Atlanta to Havana by routing through Mexico City.

  15. I’m confused. If you need a Visa to go to Cuba, where would an American citizen obtain one? You mentioned buying one in Mexico City for $20.00 but I’m flying thru Miami.

    1. Hi Cleon,

      All travelers to Cuba, including religious workers, should contact the Cuban Interests Section in Washington to determine the appropriate type of visa required for their purpose of travel. Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, and sells a temporary policy to those who do not have it.

  16. I’m a US permanent resident and I also have a foreign passport that is eligible to travel to Cuba. Am I allowed to take the direct flight from Miami ?

    1. Hi Roxy,

      Yes, you can book. Our website will still ask you to select one of the twelve reasons, so just select any one of them since you already have a foreign passport which permits you to travel. Upon booking, the charter company will contact you to confirm you passport and visa information. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any help with booking flights.

  17. I am a U.S. citizen traveling under the General Professional research license flying out of Miami. My understanding is that it is not necessary to apply thru the Cuba Interests Section for this General License and the traveling papers or “Visa” are obtained at the portal airport (Miami in this case) before the flight.

    Is this the case or do I need to apply thru a service?

    1. Hi Will, We work with a Charter company called Cuba Charter Services for all of our flights and refer all of our customers to them (they facilitate the visa process). You can reach out to them at 800-963-2822 and they can help you with this question.

  18. We’re planning to get tickets from Miami to Havana through cheapair.com. Can we get a visa for Cuba at the Miami airport? How does that work?

  19. Hello,
    I just want to go to Cuba for vacation which this option is not include it in the 12 option you guys have can I still go? I’m a US citizen leaving in Miami

    1. Hi Roman,

      If your reason for travel does not fit one of those 12 reasons, then it’s not recommended you book now. However, it should be noted that there currently is no proof required for any of the 12 reasons when traveling, so you can interpret that as you’d like. When booking, all you need to do is select one of the 12 reasons for travel and we will document that information. You’ll need to obtain all the required travel documents such as passport, visa, etc… that is required to travel if you do book. Once completing your reservation, you’ll be send a follow up email and be contacted by the charter company Cuba Travel Services who will review with you all the proper documents required to ensure you can travel. Hope that helps!

  20. hello everyone, and thanks for the input. i wanted to see if anyone had any feedback, on airline reporting to the US. i am a mexican citizen, but a US resident. I was planning on visiting as a mexican citizen, however, while in Mexico City, there was a form, i didn’t read prior to turning it in. (big mistake). what i filled out was is a document, from the airline, asking the reason for my visit. I entered my US resident info. Does anyone know if the airline submits this info to the US Treasury, or it is just a requirement the airline has to fulfill. Still in mexico, and wanted to see if the US Immigration service, will have this information? thanks any info will help.

    thanks

  21. I can only get Miami-Havana flight information for one week stays. Is it possible to stay less days? And, if so, how do I search for them on your site?

    Thanks

  22. Hi,
    I’m an Israeli citcent and I would like to travel from Miami to Cuba in the end of July
    How can I do it? And where can I get a visa?

    1. Hi Dafna,

      Booking flights to Cuba is easy. Just go to 10.185.58.36 and search from Miami to Cuba and enter your dates. You will need to select one of the 12 reasons for visiting Cuba when completing your reservation. (You can select any, since these are only really necessary for U.S. citizens.) As for obtaining a travel VISA, you’ll need to contact your local Israeli government for that. Please let us know if you have any trouble with finding flights. We’re here to help.

      1. Hi,
        I have a question regarding that as well. I’m also an Israeli citizen travelling to cuba from canada. Am I required to buy and show a proof of travel insurance? And where do I get one for a reasonable price? Thank you!

        1. Hi there Stav, you do need to buy Cuban health insurance, not specifically travel insurance. If you need to buy it when you arrive in Havana (or any other entry point) there is a desk where you can purchase the coverage depending on the number of days of your trip. It’s actually very inexpensive to go this route. Some tour operators will bundle the Cuban travel insurance in with your air ticket and/or package so make sure you know which category you fall into so you don’t end up buying more insurance than you need.

    1. Hi Rosaura,

      If you are a U.S. citizen, you’ll have to select one of the 12 reasons for travel. Upon completing your booking, you’ll be contacted by the Cuba charter company to confirm you have all the proper travel documents required to travel. That’s it. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any assistance with finding flights.

  23. Hi Cheapair, in case a US resident wants to go to Cuba without any issues and not having to pursue a visa qualifying for the 12 reasons of travel, this person will have to go to Mexico or Panama and get a Visa to Cuba from there? Is this assumption correct? Are there any legal implications for this person if he/she goes to Cuba being a US resident?

    1. Hi Vane,

      A U.S. citizen does not need to obtain a special VISA to travel to Cuba. You’ll need a valid passport and need to select one of the 12 reasons for visiting upon booking your flights online. After you’ve booked, you’ll be contacted by the Cuba charter company to review your travel documents to ensure you’re able to travel. There is not documents needed when choosing one of the 12 reasons for traveling to Cuba. That information is recorded internally. Please let us know if you have any questions.

      1. I’m confused. As I read through the cheapair.com responses, I read:

        1) as a U.S. Citizen, I don’t need a special visa to travel to Cuba – just a passport and one of the 12 reasons.

        2) that I should consult the U.S. Gov website to which you provide a link. When I go there, it points out that the visa requirement is Cuba’s, and points me to there website. There, it tells me that I can apply for a tourist visa, business visa, family visa, student visa, etc.

        Which is it, 1 or 2? And if it’s 2, which should I apply for?

        1. Hi Dan, Sorry for any confusion. So, the 12 reasons actually function as the official “license” for your travel. If you qualify for travel under one of those provisions, that’s your license. Everyone needs a Cuban visa (and Cuban health insurance). So far, our site (CheapAir.com) is the only place for US citizens to purchase tickets online. When our customers book with us, we help them through the process but if you’re going this alone (or with a charter company) you can also just search online for places to purchase a Cuban visa (various price points). If you are flying through another country like Mexico or Panama, they issue the Cuban visas in their airport. Like I said, we sell direct flights from the US, so if you book with us we help with the process. You can purchase Cuban health insurance when you land in Havana at the airport. It goes for about $3-5 USD a day).

          1. Thanks for the clarification. You probably want to amend your 7/20 response to Vane:

            “Hi Vane, a U.S. citizen does not need to obtain a special VISA to travel to Cuba.”

            Did you mean license, and not VISA?

            And since I still need a VISA – which of the many types should I be requesting?

  24. When will flights be available for booking in November? And do you have any idea how long it is reasonable (from the US point of view) to stay in Cuba if you go for only 1 event (I want to go to run the Havana Marathon, which qualifies under the new general license for athletic participation . . . but obviously I would like to stay for a few days – most likely a week – while I am there!)

    1. Hi Teej,

      Flight schedules past October have not been received from the Cuba charter company yet. We should be receiving them soon though, so please keep checking back with us. We appreciate your patience. As far as your stay, that shouldn’t be a problem. As long as you select one of the 12 reasons for traveling and don’t stay more than 30 days you are fine.

  25. I would like to know if a non American citizen or resident can embark in Miami to travel to Cuba with your flights.

    1. Yes, Maria. This is not a problem. If you are a passport holder from another country, you have no restrictions that we know of for travel to Cuba.

  26. Hi there. I’m Lithuanian citizen with J-1 visa status in US. There will be any problems of getting Cuba visa? Also, can I get a link for applying for a visa which cost 25-30$? Thank you.

    1. Hello Edmundas, We recommend calling our partner company, Cuba Travel Services at 800-963-2822 for these questions. Your consulate may also be able to help. I believe there are no restrictions for any passport holders to go into Cuba other than US citizens. However, because you are living here on a student visa, it might be a good idea to also check with our State Dept or your school to find out if there are any travel restrictions tied to the visa that you should be aware of. When you purchase an airline ticket, our partner company will assist with procuring a visa. If you’d prefer to get one on your own, there are a number of places you can obtain on the web: http://www.cubavisas.com/visa.php?act=tcform&flight=yes&accom=no. Good luck to you.

  27. I’ve purchased my ticket for a flight from Havana to Cuba, and I will need a visa. Your email to me states:

    “…simply fill out this visa application form, pay $85 to Cuba Travel Services, and they will have one issued for you at the airport.”

    However, you do not state how I pay, or where I send the money. The form does not give this information either.

    What are my next steps?

  28. I have an answer to my own question. Here’s what you do:

    1) Fill out the form you find here:

    http://cubatravelservices.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/VISA_APPLICATION_FORM.pdf

    2) Email the form, along with a photocopy of your passport, to:

    pedro@cubatravelservices.com

    I am told they will email back a form to fill out that includes the option to pay by credit card.

    I will do this tonight, and report back.

    I think that this really is information that should be supplied by CheapAir when you purchase a ticket…

    1. Hi Dan, Very good point. This process (for us) is a new one and it obviously needs some refining. I’ll bring this up today in our internal marketing meeting and we’ll get the language on the email updated. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  29. I’m a US Permanent Resident, and have a Mexican Passport.
    Am I allowed to travel to Cuba?
    I read some of your comments, and in one of them it shows someone with my case can travel to Cuba, but the header to the 12 categories reads citizens and residence from the U.S. can’t, so I’m confuse.

  30. Dear CheapAir:

    I Gechhok, Indian by birth. Hold India passport. Live in America for work. Want to fly to Camaguey from Miyami as tourist and for support to Cuban pipple. What I need to do ? Do you think it possible fly from Miyami ? What are paper you need to get visa for Cuba. Thank you.

    1. Hi Gechhok, As a foreign national you have no restrictions for travel to Cuba and can take advantage of the direct flights without a special license.There are direct flights that run between Miami and various destinations in Cuba (including Camaguey), as well as flights from the NYC area (on certain days of the week). To get an idea of flight times, costs (they will be similar) and schedules you can search for flights in November. Unfortunately, we do not have the updated flight schedules yet for dates in 2016 but they should be coming very soon. Apologies for the delay.

  31. I am a high school teacher and want to attend the Havana Jazz Festival in December. Does this fall into the category of “Public Performance?” I want to stay in an airbnb accommodation there. Is this possible for me, as an American? I don’t do tours. Never have, and I see they are very expensive. Can I go on my own or with a friend without problem?

    1. Sandra,

      Lots of information on the Lonely Planet forums from Americans who have traveled to Cuba extensively. I am a first time traveler as well.

  32. I booked my flight to Havana thru Cheapair.com charter company Cuba Travel Services.

    Cheapair.com blog states that “When traveling direct from the U.S. the price of your flight includes a Cuban health insurance policy (valued around $46).” Is this the Cuban Asistur Travel Insurance? Does it cover repatriation/medical evacuation? Will I receive a document proving that I have the health insurance policy when I check in for my Cuba Travel Services flight in Tampa?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Susan, While we are not experts in all things Insurance, we do know this is not US travel insurance like TravelGuard. This is the Cuban government requirement for travelers – so if you become sick on your visit you can see Cuban physicians and be in the healthcare system. You will receive a document that shows you’re covered.

  33. Hi there, please, I from africa with a Cuba visa, can I visit the united states , from Cuba with a Cuba visa? Is there any means?

    1. Hi Eddy, I am not sure I understand the question. As long as you are a foreign national (not Cuban) but traveling on a foreign passport and holding a Cuban travel visa, you can go to Cuba from the United States without difficulty. If you have a passport from Africa, you can visit the United States with whatever visa requirements stand in your own country. Does this help?

  34. Why Mexico City? You should look at booking through Toronto or Montreal on Canadian all-inclusive charter companies. I’m certain they would give Cheapair a decent wholesale rate. I’ve been to Cuba a dozen times and can say that the list above appears to be quite conservative. You do need health insurance, buy it at the airport. you can change cash quite readily anywhere in Cuba at banks or private exchanges called “Cadeca”. There are hundreds of hotels but they are mostly sold out to charter companies. book an all-inclusive and that will be taken care of. The country is as safe or safer than many US cities. There has always been a U.S. Embassy in Havana they just didn’t call it that before. Unless you want to go for cultural reasons don’t bother with Havana your first trip. it’s unevenly restored and expensive. Go to an all inclusive in Varadero or one of the newer resort areas in Cayo Santa Maria or Cayo Coco. They have European owned hotels with all meals and food included for less than similar Caribbean destinations.

  35. Hi there….I have a question, I’m an American citizen and thinking of traveling to Cuba from Toronto, so I’m wondering if anyone can tell me where I can get health insurance in order to enter Cuba. Some people tell me to buy it in Toronto, US or when I get to Cuba. I’ll appreciate if anyone can tell me and also the average price for it.
    Thank you. ..John

    1. Hi John, You can typically purchase Cuban health insurance if you book a ticket via a charter company as part of your ticket (from inside the U.S.) However, if you do not purchase prior to your departure, you can buy very reasonably priced Cuban health insurance at the airport after you land. It’s just a few dollars a day to purchase. Hope this helps.

  36. Hello,
    I am not a US citizen. I have a visa for Cuba from taken my country. When I am visiting USA, can I fly to Havana from Miami (and also back to Miami)? Will there be a problem for me since I am not a US citizen?

  37. I am a dual citizen of the US and Israel. Am I eligible to get on a direct charter flight from the US to Cuba using my Israeli passport?
    Thanks!

  38. I am currently researching travel plans with your website to Havana, Cuba via Mexico City then returning to Mexico City for a few days. I am planning after the spring vacation season. I am an American Citizen, My Wife is a Peruvian Citizen with a U.S. Residency. Is there any advantage for both of us visiting Cuba because of her Peruvian Citizenship? Such as Monetary exchange and other requirements. AND any other suggestions for my plans of our vacation. Thank You

    1. Hi there, Not really any major benefit. If your wife has a credit card not drawn on a U.S. bank, she should be able to use it in Cuba at ATM’s (while cards drawn on U.S. banks do not work in Cuban ATM machines). That’s really the only major advantage. I would also be very careful and make sure your wife’ residency will not be placed in any sort of jeopardy if she makes the trip. We offer general travel advice on our site, but at the moment Cuba is still off limits for U.S. citizens planning leisure travel. Of course, this is all on the honor system. Our blog has a number of interesting articles about travel to Cuba. I might start with this one for general travel advice: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/destinations/12-helpful-hints-for-u-s-travelers-to-cuba/ and this one for the red tape we’re discussing: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/travel-news/can-i-travel-to-cuba-additional-information-for-u-s-citizens/. Hope they help!

    1. The Cuban tourist card can be issued very quickly but we do not have specific information about the various visa application periods. It does depend on what sort of visa you need.

  39. Hi, I’m a European citizen currently in Hawaii and considering to visit Cuba. Is it really enough (also for a non US citizen) to buy visa at the Mexican airport? I read that you need also to visit the consulate to get it.
    Thanks a lot for advice.

    1. Hi Mila, I’m not sue about the rules for your particular country of origin so please double-check, but yes. If you buy a ticket from Mexico City, they will help you secure a “tourist card” in the airport before you board.

  40. I’m trying to obtain a visa and airfare to Cuba. I already have the hotel booked in Havana. I am going under the professional meeting provision. I need assistance in getting both the VISA and flight to Havana from Miami. Can you help? I have a US passport, I am planing on going mid April.

    1. Hi Will, if you book with us online you will be assisted by our charter partner with the tourist card. You can do a simple search on our site for your dates in April. We do offer flights to Havana for eligible travelers.

  41. Hi, If I go from Mexico (Cancun) without visa and permission, I will be ask at the airport in cancun forf the license to ether Cuba?

    1. Hi Michele, I am not sure I understand your question. If you’re asking about the Cuban tourist card, yes you can procure that from the airport in Cancun.

  42. I will be in Cancun mid April. I am an American citizen. Can I purchase a direct flight to Havana? Which airline is the easiest?

    1. Hi Chris, Aeomexico and Copa Airlines have flights from various Mexican cities (you’ll have to check to see if Cancun is on the list for them). In any event, you certainly can wait until you are in Mexico to arrange or you might even look into reaching out to a Cancun-based travel agency to help you arrange. Good luck to you.

      1. Thanks for the reply. Can I also just book, hassle-free on your website? I see Aeromexico has flights from Cancun to Havana. Is there a reason I would need a travel agent? Can’t I just book the tickets online and pick them up at the airport and secure my travel visa the same day?

  43. Hello,

    Reading through the comments I want to just confirm what I believe I’ve read.

    Flying Miami to Havana
    1, book flights through cheapair.com
    2, pay $85 through partner to apply for travel visa. Forms will be emailed for me to fill out. Visa will be waiting for me at the airport?

    Thanks. Very resourceful.

    1. Hi Greg, I’m going to give your questions a qualified “yes.” Here’s why. We partner with charter companies who fly to Cuba direct from Miami. If you choose an itinerary with a charter, it is true that you’ll get assistance procuring the Cuban travel card. In the event you book a ticket through an international airline (like Copa or AeroMexico), they do NOT assist with the travel card. The best thing to do if you’d like 100% assurance is either find the itinerary you’d like and then call us to verify that you’ve chosen an itinerary that will get you the extra help.

  44. Thanks for the reply. Can I also just book, hassle-free on your website? I see Aeromexico has flights from Cancun to Havana. Is there a reason I would need a travel agent? Can’t I just book the tickets online and pick them up at the airport and secure my travel visa the same day?

    1. This is true, Chris. As long as you qualify for one of the acceptable reasons for travel, you can totally DIY this trip without a travel agent. Hope this helps.

  45. I booked travel from Cancun to Havana and no one has contacted me to provide 1/12 reasons nor was I asked for my reason upon booking. I called Cheap Air and they told me to call the US Embassy. So now I have tickets – Will I even be allowed on the plane? Where can I buy medical insurance?

  46. For those using “Educational Activities” as a reason for going to Cuba, a listing of any upcoming conferences in Cuba would be useful The site “Conference Alerts” offers comprehensive lists, but contains nothing about Cuba. Do you know if anything exists? If so, where?.

    1. Hi Bern, We are also not coming up with a good resource for this information. You might reach out to a company that specializes in cultural tours to Cuba. Tony Rubenstein, who wrote this post for us, https://www.cheapair.com/blog/destinations/12-helpful-hints-for-u-s-travelers-to-cuba/, may be a good resource for this kind of information. You might try reaching out to one of his companies. They have boots on the ground in Cuba and may have access to these sorts of details.

  47. Does anybody know how many people have been arrested in 2015 and/or 2016 for traveling illegally to Cuba from the USA?

    1. Hi Stephen, We do not keep that sort of data though it seems likely that the number would be very, very low. Even prior to the new relaxed diplomatic relations, the worst punishment seems to have been fining those citizens who chose to travel illegally.

  48. Hi guys, I am a US Citizen, that lives in CA and will be flying into Mexico (Guadalajara) then over to Cuba. What are the required documents I need to leave LAX Airport and arrive in Mexico? Then the documents I will need in Mexico to get me into Cuba? US Passport, Cuban visa & Insurance (purchased in LAX or in MEX) and where/when do I have to obtain and turn in a sheet for one of the 12 reasons why Im traveling ? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Jon, You’ve got everything you need. You’ll not be asked to turn in a form with one of the 12 reasons – it’s on the honor system. When we sell direct flights to Cuba on our site, we require you to indicate which of the 12 reasons for travel, but that is our own due diligence and not something that is required on paper for you, the traveler. In any event, this scenario doesn’t apply to your situation.

  49. Hi guys, I’m a US Citizen that lives in CA, and would be flying into Mexico then to Cuba. Which documents would I need to present at LAX and then which documents do I need to present once I am in Mexico? Do I need to get a form for the 1 of 12 reasons while im in Mexico? Do I need to show proof at the gate or when I arrive in Cuba for the reason Im there? Do I also have to get the Cuban Insurance while I’m in the Mexican airport? Do I have to ask Cuban customs to Not stamp my passport?

    1. Hi Nick, the “12 reasons” is really on the honor system. There’s no form to fill out. If you were purchasing your flights from us, we’d require you to designate which of the reasons apply to your situation but since you are flying through Mexico, there will be no such question for you to answer. You might be asked on your return to the States at customs, and you should be prepared to have the reason (and appropriate backup paperwork) on hand at that time. You will need Cuban health insurance – I know a lot of people just buy it when they land in Havana in the airport. It’s what I did when I went – and it’s cheap and easy. The Cuban authorities do not stamp U.S. citizens’ passports. Hope this helps.

  50. Hey there CheapAir,

    US citizen here looking to get to Cuba this year with a few friends and had a question about the 12 rules. We’d like to participate in “Educational Activities – People to People”. By staying with a Cuban family who rents out their home for the week and having conversations / dinner count? How about attending a baseball game and donating equipment to children count? How about attending a music / cultural festival held in the city? Do we need a full time tour operator that holds proper documents and receipts?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Shane, We think you’ll benefit from reading through this blog post: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/travel-tips/how-to-travel-to-cuba-without-a-tour-group-in-8-easy-steps/. Basically, yes, “educational activities” is going to be your best route into Cuba. However, you should know that a “full schedule” of activities has to be on the agenda. So, while all of the things you mention (staying with a Cuban family, having conversations/meals together) do count toward “educational activities,” the U.S. government does expect you to do more. Whether that’s visiting museums and participating in cultural events, or visiting local schools – your whole visit should be scheduled with educational activities at the forefront. Americans are still not permitted to hang out in bars or lounge on beaches. We believe there’s a fair bit of wiggle room in planning (especially because this is seen as promoting a cultural exchange), but you are expected to keep receipts and other documentation should anyone on your return pull you aside at customs to discuss your trip. It’s not likely to happen, but you should be prepared to keep any and all documentation for activities you do while in country. No formal tour operator needed. Oh – side note. Just do your research. The tourism infrastructure is still quite primitive compared ti what most Americans are used to, and just getting around the island can be a challenge. We recommend renting a car (very expensive) or hiring a local to shuttle you about (loads of people have a side hustle and are happy to hook you up with a driver). If you have someone going with you who speaks some Spanish that can really help with planning.

  51. Hi, thanks for all the great information on traveling to Cuba. It’s very useful. One question I didn’t see: I carry passports for both Brazil and the US but currently live in the US. I expect that I will use my Brazilian passport to enter cube (via Cancun). Will I be restricted in any way based on my residence in the US? My travel purposes are for Education but is that reason required since I’ll be using my Brazilian passport?

    1. Hi Chad, in your case (dual citizenship), you should not have any issues. Sometimes we get people who are foreign nationals living in the United States on a certain kind of work permit with travel restrictions, but this does not appear to be your situation.

  52. Hi, I purchased a trip from Miami to Havana in July through cheapair with the Cuba Travel Services. I have a US passport. I want to be sure that when I get to the Miami airport there will not be any delay:

    At the Miami airport will I be able to get the tourist card? When I purchased my ticket I was asked to identify which of the 12 rules applied for my visit, and I chose according to my visit. Is there anything else that needs to be done?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Elizabeth, Usually Cuba Travel Services assists you in getting the tourist card. Have they reached out to you regarding this? When you land in Havana you will also need to purchase Cuban health insurance for the dates you’ll be there. You can do this before you leave the airport and it is very reasonable (just a few dollars a day). There are no other items to concern yourself with, You do need to have the reason for travel, but there is no associated paperwork with this. When you return from your trip and are going through customs, they may ask you about your reason (not likely, but you should be prepared just in case).

  53. Hi I have a Brazilian passport however I live in the US I would like to fly to Havana from Miami or Ft Lauderdale either in October or November. Are there direct flights? Do I need a visa or anything? If not my friend who I’m flying with lives in Toronto, are there direct flights from Toronto or any big Canadian cities out East?

    1. Hi Stephanie, Yes, you can fly to Cuba from Miami. You can get Cuban medical insurance in the airport when you land in Havana (for just a few dollars a day). The Cuban tourist card will need to be obtained. If you buy your ticket through us and fly direct from Miami to Havana, our partner charter company will reach out and help you obtain the tourist card. If you fly through Mexico City or Cancun, you will have assistance in the airport to do this paperwork. This is a very interesting time for all of us in terms of Cuba travel. The U.S. and Cuban government have just worked out the resumption of commercial flights into the secondary cities in Cuba (i.e. everywhere but Havana). Havana service is going to be worked out and flight schedules published possibly as soon as August, but certainly by the end of September. There are no restrictions on you as a Brazilian passport holder (only U.S. citizens have restrictions), so if you can hold out purchasing a ticket until a bit later in the year, you should see regular commercial flights available. Miami will have these commercial flights as well, so you should be able to find an itinerary that meets your needs for a lot less than the charter flights cost right now. Keep your eyes on the news in the next few weeks so you can be ready when the flights come on line. Your friend can certainly fly from Toronto to Havana. There are no restrictions for Canadian travelers and there are many options to fly from Toronto. Good luck to you.

  54. I am traveling as an educator on a person to person tour. As I have dual citizenship (us/uk), can I use the British passport to allow me to swim at the beaches (even though I am entering and exiting with US)?

    1. Hi Louisa, That is a very clever thought! Unfortunately, you’d have to enter and exit on the British passport to be safe for this one. See, it’s not that Cuban authorities that would be policing your beach activities – but the U.S. customs agents on your return. At the moment (and unless something should change with the next President’s administration), things are moving toward opening the borders completely. In this interim time, U.S. passport holders are required to choose one of 12 allowable reasons for travel to Cuba. None of these reasons include leisure travel, which is why lounging on the beaches is still verboten. By the same token, this is all very much on the honor system. While we cannot recommend this hack you suggest, there are now sanctioned ways to travel to Cuba without an organized tour: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/travel-tips/how-to-travel-to-cuba-without-a-tour-group-in-8-easy-steps/. Good luck to you.

  55. I am traveling to Cuba in August with me and two friends. We fall under the “Religious” category of travel, even though we will be doing some tourism. How do we actually get our visas? What type of visas do we need? How much will they cost?

    How much do you estimate a 7-day trip in Cuba to cost (including round-trip flight price from Miami), assuming we stay in hostels or cheap hotels?

    1. Hi Isaiah, All great questions. Getting your Cuban travel card (what you are referring to as a visa) is simple. If you are flying on a charter direct from Miami, check with the charter company and see if they can help you obtain the card. If you are traveling through a foreign gateway to get to Cuba (oftentimes Mexico City or Cancun), you will be able to get the card in the connecting airport. They cost about $30 if you go this route. Here is a post with some FAQs about travel to Cuba. We recommend you stay in casas particulares (you can book them on airbnb.) There is not much of a “cheap hotel market” in Cuba. Private rooms (the casas particulares) are a way to get to know local people and also put some money back into the local economy. Have a read of this post: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/destinations/what-you-need-to-know-about-traveling-to-cuba/. It’s hard to say exactly how much money you might need, but be sure to bring all cash. There are still not reliable ATMs networked for U.S. banks. When I traveled to Cuba a few years ago, I budgeted about $50 per day for food, museum entrances and travel (buses, taxis, etc.) costs. That should still be reasonable.

  56. i will be going from austin to miami and then miami to cuba. do i need to do anything ahead of time or will i be able to get the travel visa right on the spot at the miami international airport?

    1. Hi Helga, Have you booked your flight yet? If you’ve booked a direct flight from Miami, the charter company should reach out to you to assist with the tourist card procurement. If you are flying to another point (i.e. Mexico City or Cancun, usually) as a connection point, you will be assisted in the foreign airport with obtaining.

    1. Hi Allie, we do not book hotels in Varadero at the moment though we can recommend a couple of possibilities. This blog post offers a few recommended hotels in Varadero:https://www.cheapair.com/blog/destinations/what-you-need-to-know-about-traveling-to-cuba/. To which gateway city were you hoping to fly? You can book flights on our site. It’s a bit tricky right now because commercial flight schedules are to come on in the fall, so the charter flights we sell are only going through August at the moment. If you’re looking to book later this fall or winter, we should be seeing commercial flights coming online in the next 6-8 weeks.

    1. Hi there, Since charter flights out of Miami on CTS are on a few different areas, you’d check in at the airline operating the flight. CTS does have a desk at the airport and if you booked a flight with CTS the travel documents they send you should have detailed check-in information as well. I hope this helps!

  57. Hi 🙂 I have read all your comments and appreciate the awesome and timely information you have provided to everyone.
    I hold an Australian passport and will be flying to Santa Clara from Fort Lauderdale on a commercial flight with Siver Airways in August.
    Can you please advise me what would be the best way to obtain a visa for Cuba?
    I will be in Miami for 4 days prior to flying to Cuba.
    I have rung and emailed embassies both here in Australia and in the US, and also the airlines several times and no one has been able to tell me where and how I can get a visa.
    I am wondering if I will need to buy additional flights to Mexico and fly in that way. But I do hope not as my flights with Silver Airways are no refundable.
    Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks, Ann

    1. Hi Ann, The Cuban government issues a “travel card” which I think is what you’re referencing as a visa. If you buy a flight through Mexico (or any other country), they simply sell you a Cuban Travel card as either part of the ticket, or if not, in the airport on your day of travel. It’s really pretty straightforward and easy to procure as part of your travel plans. Americans traveling to Cuba illegally have been getting theirs this way for years. Nowadays, because there are limited flight options available from the U.S. (all charter flights at the moment), the process is a bit different. Silver Airlines is going to be operating commercial flights starting in September out of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, but I believe they are already operating charter flights with Avianca as a codeshare. My feeling is that you will be given the opportunity to obtain the travel card (likely a representative will reach out to you via email in advance of your travel dates) OR you may be given the opportunity to buy the card on your day of travel. It may be easier for you to just pop over to the Silver desk at the airport to inquire once you arrive, but I really don’t think there is anything at all to worry about. It will cost you somewhere in the vicinity of $40-80 (depending on what administrative fee Silver may charge). We do not work with Silver, so I wouldn’t want to guess as to their fee. Good luck to you and enjoy your trip!

  58. Great web page and very informative, have learnt more reading this than all the research I have previously done on travelling to Cuba.
    I travel on a British passport, my wife on an Australian passport, we live in Australia. as far as I am aware there are no restrictions placed on us by either country to travel to Cuba, so therefore we don’t need an excuse to travel (one of the 12 rules). If purchasing my flight through your company, are we given forms to complete and still needing an “excuse”, or are these rules just for US passport carrying citizens.

    Planning to travel early next year from Miami, when will you have flight details so we can lock in flights?

    1. Hi Brian, You are spot on. The “rules” do not apply for you. However, if you did purchase tickets on our site, you would be required to tick a box. Since most of our business comes from a North American outbound traveler, we ask the question of everyone. But (and you may know this already), it is an interesting time for US to Cuba travel. Though at the moment only charter flights are available from Miami, regularly scheduled commercial flights are coming online and are supposed to be running in as little as a few weeks. I would wait to purchase if I were you. We could sell you a charter flight for around $700 USD, but because of the current planning underway, we only have flights available into September. When commercial flights come online, the fares to Havana should be much more affordable (this is a guess, but a more reasonable are might be in the $200-300 round trip range). There is not likely to be a huge run on flights from the U.S. for the first few months, but I would watch and wait to see which of these airlines are selling so you can buy early: https://www.cheapair.com/blog/travel-news/scheduled-commercial-flights-to-havana-coming-soon/. We will also be selling through our portal. Thanks for the kind words and good luck to you.

  59. Hello. I would be flying direct from Miami to Havana. Would I receive a tourist card at MIA? How much will the card will cost from the agency that is supposed to reach out after booking? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kassie, Do you have a ticket with us? If you can email this question to our help desk (help@cheapair.com) and provide the booking number (should be 10 digits and start with a #16xxxxxxxx) we can see which charter company is handling your ticket. The policies for airlines differ, so there isn’t a one size fits all policy for this question. One of our charter operators will help with visas but for all other carriers, you would need to contact the airline directly to find out their policies. There are charter companies that do handle the tourist card at check-in. Sorry this is a bit convoluted – as more commercial flights come online, there should be a more uniform process across the board for flights into Cuba.

  60. We are Canadian citizens (two) living in Canada. We are travelling to Florida in January 2017 to visit my father for his 90th birthday. As an add on to this visit we are considering a two week visit to Cuba, flying out of one of the Florida arports (ie, Miami, Tampa or Fort Lauderdale). On all the websites selling tickets (consolidators like expedia or cheapair, or airlines like JetBlue or American) I am required to check one of the 12 boxes in order to complete the purchase. Can I check any box, complete the purchase and fly without worries? Or do the 12 reasons for travel apply because the flight originates in Florida? Please advise. Thanks for this informative blog!

    1. Hi Sierd, As a foreign national you are not required to qualify for licensure. However, any US-based supplier will require you to tick a box. It’s just a formality for you.

  61. Hi there,
    I’m a french citizen in the US with a J1 visa (I have the signature to exit the US), I would like to fly to Cuba from Miami. If I understood well, I am not required to qualify for licensure and I can just book my flight, ticking the box?
    My second question is related to the news, will the flights from next week be maintained (after the hurricane Matthew )
    Thank you for your answers!

    1. Yes, this is correct. As long as your visa permits travel, you are not subject to the rules of the U.S./Cuba agreements. It’s very difficult to say what the flight schedule will be – at the moment, it is not looking great for travel next week.

  62. Hi,

    I’m a Belgian citizen who wants to visit a friend in NY city before going further to Cuba for a 2-week toursit visit. I read in your comments on the above posts that I as a Belgian citizen do not fall under Cuba/US/OFAC rules and therefore I shouldn’t care for the 12 options in the general license application.

    However, I still read conflicting messages on this topic on the internet. Also on the official USA site for travel (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/cuba.html), I’ve read that all people under US jurisdiction should fall under 1 of the 12 authorized reasons. Since people on US soil (US citizen or Belgian) are under the jurisdiction I don’t know what to believe anymore…
    Can you proove, or at least point me towards the correct site, that it’s not mandatory for non-US citizens to comply with the general license? 🙂

    1. Hi Arne, Foreign nationals do not have to meet the 12 options for licensure with a few exceptions. Yes, if you are living in the United States on specific kinds of work visas and some student visas, you might not be able to travel to Cuba (some of these work visas have restrictions for any foreign travel). The work visa and student visa programs are complicated and we do not presume to know all of the ins and outs. We always recommend consulting with an immigration attorney or an attorney specializing in work visas. This does not sound like your situation. You should be fine to visit Cuba without restriction or any fear of detainment upon your return.

      1. Hi,

        I am currently studying in the US for one year and I have a F-1 studentvisa, because I am from the Netherlands. I was thinking of going to Cuba during christmas break, because I thought I was allowed to go to Cuba as a Dutch citizen, but now I have seen this post I am not so sure anymore.
        I was wondering if you could give an answer to my problem or if you know someone who I can contact to answer my questions

        Kind regards

        1. Hi Ellen, It really depends on the terms of your visa. Unfortunately, we can’t offer specific advice as we’re just a travel company. Generally speaking, some student visas allow for international travel, but because of the U.S.’s ongoing (and changing) political situation with Cuba, it’s hard for me to say what the rules for travel might be. I would discuss with someone at your university to see if they can point you in the right direction.

        2. Hi Ellen,

          I am a Spanish student in the same situation. Did you finally find out whether it is possible to travel with the F1 visa without restriction?

          Best,
          R.

  63. Hi im a US citizen and wanted to know if i get a direct flight to havana cuba, does cheap air process the visa? Does cheap air also process the insurance? Or is it best for me to book a flighy with a gateway stop?

    1. Hi Jorge, Great question. It really depends on the ticket you buy. We are an online travel agency, but the airlines each handle the Cuban tourist card in different ways. If you fly from a foreign gateway (like Mexico City or Cancun). the tourist card is offered in the airport. If you purchase a flight from a charter company, they will typically reach out post-booking to assist you in obtaining a card (for a fee). The U.S. based airlines that now book Cuba all have different protocols (it is best to chat with them directly): https://www.cheapair.com/cheap-flights-to-cuba. You can also obtain your own Cuba travel card on your own by reaching out to the Cuban embassy. The Cuban health insurance is very inexepnsive (a few dollars a day) and should be obtained when you land in Cuba at the airport).

  64. Dear ChepAir – first of all thank you for this useful blog! One question for you just to be sure it is the right way: as Italian Citizen in Miami for holiday, can I travel with direct fly to Havana? I will tick one of the 12 categories as it is a formality on the website of American Airlines but I will have still to have with me the tourist visa I will collect in advance here in Italy. It is correct? Thank you in advance!!

  65. Cuba is truly a unforgettable experience and anyone who has the chance to go should do, sooner rather than later. I noticed a lot of people asking about a Visa for Cuba so…

    I bought my Cuba Visa here: http://cubacenter.com

    It was very quick, simple and it arrived within 48 hours, can’t complain.

  66. Hi,

    We are a couple of UK citizens who are travelling around the world. We are interested in flying from Miami to Havana, staying for a month, then moving on to Central America. As I understand it, we require a Tourist Card to enter Cuba. I have read that these can be purchased at Havana Airport, but also that some airlines will only let you board if you already have the card in your possession. Is there somewhere at Miami Airport we can buy the tourist cards? Or would we be okay to fly without them and secure them when we land at Havana? It would be difficult for us to arrange them before we arrive in Florida as we are already travelling (currently in Nepal) so do not have access to our UK post etc.

    Thanks,

    James & Hannah

    1. Hi James, Yes, the Cuban Tourist card should be procured prior to arrival into Cuba (as far as I know they do not issue cards on the ground in Cuba, and they must be obtained prior to arrival). Now, the situation between the U.S. government and Cuban government are presently in flux – we are setting up commercial flights as we speak, and some U.S. airlines are assisting with the tourist card process, but others are not. To be certain, you should reach out via phone or email and discuss with the airlines before purchasing tickets. There ARE charter companies in Miami that I imagine might be able to assist you. We work with one (Cuba Travel Services). It might be worth an email to see if you can coordinate with them – perhaps you can arrange to pick up the card once you arrive. I believe they also have online chat, so that might be the easiest way to start the conversation: http://cubatravelservices.com/. Good luck to you.

    1. Hi Danielle, Have you reached out to JetBlue directly for an answer to this question? Because the processes are so new, and ever-changing, it would be better for you to speak to a representative at JetBlue who can answer this question. My best guess would be that you will be able to purchase a tourist card at check-in (in some cases the card purchase may already be included with the cost of the ticket). Again, I would check directly with the airline who sold you the ticket.

  67. Did a two week bike trip around the island. No crime issues.
    My advice is limit your time in havana. I like the ambos mundos in old havana. Lots of folks use air bnb for casa particulatd.
    Internet service is easy. U buy a card st the telephonico
    Store and go to one of the main parks where wifi is available. Parque central in havana and i always found one in each little
    Town. Loved trinidad. Loved cienfuegos, sanctus spiritus wad cool
    Santa clara too. Bay of pigs not worth it. We can go easy on air key west but not cheap. Oreilly 304 is a great restaurant
    In havana but small. Reservation a must. Lobsters good and
    Cheap

  68. I am considering booking a flight from USA to Cuba. US airlines require to declare one of 12 designated travel purposes, whereas there is no such category as tourist trip. I understand this applies only to US citizens. However, I am non-US citizen, I have no permanent residence in USA and I am not subject to US jurisdiction and will have a tourist visa ( I have been to Cuba before on tourist visa), issued by Cuban embassy in my home country – I am under no restriction as to purpose of travel. Will your system let me make the reservation without ticking any of 12 purposes applicable for US citizens?

    thank you

    p.

    1. Hi Peter, No you will still have to tick a box in our system, but it is just a formality for you. You’l have no trouble clearing customs on your return from Cuba as a foreign national traveling for leisure. We are a U.S. based company and most of our travelers are Americans. So, our system is a little bit clunky for you – but should not be an impediment for your holiday.

  69. So, I don’t know if you are able to answer this one but I work for an airline here in the US and as “non-rev” travelers can we go also to Cuba or do they require a confirmed returned ticket? You know we fly on stand by unconfirmed. Anyways, so I contacted this company and they sent me an affidavit for the visa where I had to choose 1 of the 12 reasons to visit Cuba. Now, they want to charge me $85.00 for the application. From what I read here you are telling me that this whole visa process I can do from the MIAMI airport for example?

    1. Hi Jacklyn, I actually don’t think we can speak to your situation definitively. Most of the U.S. airlines are now offering flights to Cuba, but every one is handling the visa procurement differently. Some are helping their passengers by bundling the tourist card into the ticket price and others are helping people with it in the airport (but they have the flight rosters for most people in advance). I’d reach out to your airline and ask directly. $85 is higher than you might pay if you corresponded with the Cuban authorities directly, but Cuban governmental red tape might be frustrating to you (they are notoriously unresponsive). It seems like not that much of a surcharge for the convenience of not dealing with that red tape. But your situation is a bit trickier.

  70. We are a Belgian family on holidays in Miami next April.
    While in Miami we would love to plan a visit to Havana as well, but we are reading lots of conflicting statements all over the internet.
    The UK Government website (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/cuba/entry-requirements) for example says you can’t travel to Cuba if you don’t fall under the 12 OFAC categories.
    I know you have been repeating this over and and over again, but I really want to be sure I won’t get into trouble coming back to the US after this trip.
    You say its just a formality but on all official websites I read that when you are in the US, citizen or not, it is prohibited to fly to Cuba when you don’t comply with the 12 OFAC categories.

    Do you have some kind of official statement or a link where this is written?

    1. Hi Albert, Yes things have been confusing, especially as of late since commercial airline carriers from the United States have just very recently (in the last few weeks) started flying between our two countries. 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. You will need to certify that your reason for travel is within one of the 12 travel categories.The people-to-people category is the most easy to qualify.

  71. I was wondering if we fly into Mexico City from California for a few days , obtain a visa and then fly to Havana . Can we then fly back to California from Havana or do we need to go through Mexico City again ? Thanks

      1. Los Angeles . They have flights from Havana to Los Angeles ( LAX ) for very cheap. Was wanting to do that on the way home instead of having to go back into Mexico City and then to LAX

        1. Hi Jonathan, Yes you can fly back from Havana without going through Mexico City. At the moment on our site, Alaska Air is offering pretty reasonable one-way fares from Havana to LAX (around $220).

          1. I’m a US citizen and new to international travel. I would like to fly to Havana from a gateway city, but then return directly back to the USA (much like Jonathan). Upon my arrival in the USA, will I need to provide any specific information about where I am flying from?
            I understand that Cuba regularly stamps the Visitor’s visa and not the passport. Will it appear as though I am returning from my gateway city?

          2. It will, but there is a caveat. The stamp from your gateway city will be dated in and out so if passport control wanted to lean on you or make your life difficult, they could ask you where you were between the time you departed your gateway city and the time you returned to it. We’ve not heard of this happening. but we do have to advise people that travel without an expressed official capacity is no longer allowed.

  72. I am looking to fly to Cuba, but will be flying with my mom. She was born in Cuba prior to 1971, but is now an American citizen with an American passport. Nothing on her passport states she was born in Cuba. Do you know if she needs a special visa or the same one I would get at the airport?

  73. We will be buying tickets through you to fly out of Atlanta to Havana. Where should we acquire a tourist visa? By mail or would the we be about to do that at the airport.

    1. Hi Amanda, It depends on which airline you’re flying. Do you know which airline you are planning to book? Each commercial airline has different policies for the Cuban travel card (visa) and various levels of assistance to travelers.

  74. Hi,
    My wife and I are both Turkish citizens and have Turkish republic passports. We both have our US touristic visas taken 3 years ago but not used yet. (We didn’t make any trip yet to USA) We also get our Cuba visas. (2 visas/entry per person) Our programme is first flying from Turkey to Havana and stayig in Cuba for a few days. Then flying to Miami from Havana for 4 days entering to USA with our US visas.After our stay in USA we will return back to Cuba by using our second Cuba visas and complete our holiday in Cuba and return back to Turkey.According to this trip plan do you think that we may have problems because of visas. Flying from Havana to Miami and flying from Miami to Havana as a tourist and as Turkish citizens will this be a problem? Which one of the 12 options should we choose while booking the flight? As a tourist and non US citizen can we be able to fly from USA to Cuba? Or as being a tourist visiting USA

    1. Hi Murat, You won’t have any problems. The restrictions are for U.S. citizens or foreign nationals living in the United States. You should be fine as long as you have the proper visas for both countries.

  75. I have dual citizenship (born in Peru and with Peruvian and US passport)
    do I need to buy a visa? I live in California. Can I use my Peruvian passport?

    1. Hi Javier, I believe the Cuban government requires the tourist card for all travelers, regardless of what country they have a passport from. You can travel to Cuba on your Peruvian passport, but if you are traveling on a U.S. air carrier you’ll need to follow the rules for licensure that all U.S. residents must adhere to for travel to Cuba.

  76. Hello,
    Purchased tickets through you flying from LAX to HAV via an approx 1 hour transit in Panama City with Copa Airlines. We are USA citizens. Haven’t been able to get response from airline. Do you know if Copa Air sells the visa at LAX or is there enough time to purchase at Panama City with only a slightly less than one hour layover. Thanks.

  77. Hi,
    I travel on a Dutch passport and my wife on an Israeli.
    Can we fly directly from the US to Cuba and back??
    Thanks,
    Jules

    1. Hi Jules, the short answer is yes. If you are flying on a U.S. carrier, you may be asked some questions on your return about whether or not you qualify for travel based on the 12 categories of travel that U.S. citizens must qualify. If you aren’t residing in the United States, it’s very unlikely that you will get this question or any sort of hassle at the customs and immigration checkpoint.

  78. Hello,
    we are french citizens with J1 and J2 visa, and live in the US. We would like to visit cuba in January.
    Tell me if I’m wrong. Tourism is forbidden, but record our travel (diary, tickets etc.) avoid hotel and beach, and prefer “BnB”, spend time in “cultural places” are the best things to do and go back in the US ?

    1. Hi Adrien, This is true. You don’t have to avoid hotels, though the casas particulares (BnB) will give you more opportunity for people to people exchanges that are required for the educational license.

  79. HI, I have a greencard but currently live in Europe and would like to travel from Miami to Havana and then straight back to Europe. Therefore, I would only do an outbound travel, do I still need to eligable for one of the 12 points? and is that a problem for the future, when I fly to US again? Thank you!

    1. Hi Liz, if you fly on a U.S. carrier yes. Technically you are supposed to be eligible for one of the 12 licenses. However, if you’re not going to pass through U.S. immigration on your return, it’s not going to be something to concern yourself with.

  80. Hi,
    We are Israelis who want to visit Cuba during a trip to the United States in early June.
    We want to get to Cuba, with a direct flight from Miami to Cuba ( “Delta” flight).

    Is this possible and where we can make a visa to Cuba? Is it possible to do a visa in Miami? If so, where, and how long it takes?

    1. Hi Vicky, There is no separate visa required from the United States though you will need to choose a reason for travel if you are traveling on a US air carrier. You’ll also need the cuban tourist card to enter the country (you can find out if Delta will assist with obtaining this card). Most of the airlines servicing Cuba will help you obtain this card. Usually this is a simple bit of paperwork done at the airport, but you should ask in advance to make sure.

  81. First thanks for the reply.
    But please, I would be grateful if you could tell me what it means “You will need to choose a reason for travel” Is the reason of “tourism” is not a good reason, is there a problem entering as a tourist?

    1. Hi Vicky, Yes – flights originating in the U.S. on a United States airline are subject to the same rules that U.S. citizens are subject to…anyone on that plane has to choose a reason for travel and it cannot be leisure travel.

  82. Hello, I am a UK Citizen and planning to visit Cuba from Miami in April.

    For travel based on the 12 categories, is keeping hold of museum tickets etc and details of any tours, enough to qualify for the ‘education category’ ?

    I am aware that I will be need to purchase a tourist card prior to travelling – where do I do this? In addition do I need a visa or is this covered by the tourist card?

    Many thanks.

  83. Hi,
    I’m Italian. I have just Italian Passport.
    I’ll stay in Miami 2 days and then I’ll fly to Cuba from Miami.
    I bought a ticket with Cheapair.
    Can I get the entry Visa (to Cuba from Miami) at Miami airport even if I’m not a US Citizen?

    Then there should’t be any problem with medical insurace as I read it is included in the ticket.
    I cannot read it in the ticket. can you provide any evidence and show any insurance number?

    1. Hi Marco, What airline are you flying with so I can confirm the insurance is included? We can also check on the travel card (visa).

  84. On the way to Havana, the airline is Frontier.
    Please let me know if
    – I get the entry Visa (to Cuba from Miami) at Miami airport even if I’m not a US Citizen
    – any evidence of the insurance and any insurance number or contact

  85. On the way to Havana, the airline is Frontier.
    Please let me know
    – if I can get the entry Visa (to Cuba from Miami) at Miami airport even if I’m not a US Citizen
    – where I can find any evidence of the insurance and any insurance number or contact number

  86. NZ citizen travelling to the USA hoping to go to Cuba via New Orleans

    Purpose is for tourism however I understand that is technically not permitted if flying from USA. So I will have to select one of the 12 categories.

    I have a few questions
    – Can I purchase a one way ticket from New Orleans to Cuba? – my intention is to fly from Cuba to Costa Rica and then Costa Rica to Houston. All on separate one way tickets.

    – on Arrival back in Houston will I be asked questions about the reason why I was in Cuba? Provide evidence of the category I selected when departing for Cuba?. Or will they simply not care because I am a non us citizen that is not residing in the USA (fly back to NZ from Houston).

    I am just trying to clarify the above queries before I book my flights.

    1. Hi Abe, Great questions. So, the short answer is that you will likely not get any questions on your return at all. U.S. citizens have been going to Cuba for years illegally and not received any questions on their return (I am one of those people who made this trip when it was strictly verboten). As far as I know there are no direct flights from New Orleans (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Newark, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, or Atlanta would all be nonstop options). It is possible to purchase one ways using our site cheapair.com.

  87. Hi… I live in Florida…. currently have a Green Card as a permanent resident of the US… but I was born in Ecuador and I would be traveling under my Ecuadorian passport… do I need a visa or what do I need in order to enter Cuba in April..?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Patricio, Please check with the Ecuadoran embassy to determine whether you need a visa (tourist card) or not. If you are flying from Miami, you should make sure you qualify under one of the 12 reasons for travel (because any passenger on a U.S. flight must comply). If you fly on a non-U.S. air carrier (and route through Mexican destinations like Cancun or Mexico City), you can probably avoid this stipulation (though, because of your green card status, I would probably err on the side of caution and just comply).

    1. Hi Bobby, Cuba does require a tourist card for Nigerian visitors. The Cuban consulate in your country is the issuing organization. When applying for a Cuban visitor visa, you may be requested to clarify you reasons for planning a trip to Cuba.

  88. I am Japanese with Japanese passport living in US.
    I have booked round trip flight from San Francisco to Havana via Mexico City (As single ticket, not separate).

    I understand that there is a strict rule that prohibit US citizen and resident from personal travel to Cuba.
    To avoid trouble, do you think it is better to re-book ticket separately(SFO to MEX, MEX to HAV) if I do not have the license of 12 catergory?

    1. Hi Kanako, As you are flying Aeromexico, it shouldn’t be an issue for you on your return. U.S. air carriers require non-U.S. nationals to comply with the 12 reasons, but you are exempt.

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