Travel Preparation

 

IS IT STILL LEGAL FOR AMERICANS TO TRAVEL TO CUBA?

Since The U.S. Treasury of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) lifted some of the travel restrictions and granted People-to-People licenses to tour operators in 2011, Americans have been traveling the short distance between the U.S. and Cuba in droves to participate in one-on-one cultural exchanges with Cuban people.  In December, 2014, President Obama relaxed the restrictions even further and over 160,000 Americans visited the island in 2016.  Most recently the Trump administration announced a slight change to the policy.  The People-to-People category is no longer valid and travelers to Cuba must now go under the Support for the Cuban People category which is quite similar to the original policy.  Individual travelers are no longer allowed to visit and approved travel must be with a tour operator such as Remember Cuba.  Thirdly, Americans are not allowed to support military-owned businesses, which Remember Cuba doesn't do.

 

While traditional 'tourism' (meaning you can't book a week at the beach as an American) remains banned by law, new rules put in place by the President make it easier for Americans to visit Cuba than it has been for most of the last half-century. 

The new rules also remove any limit on how much money a traveler can spend per day, and allow visitors to bring back unlimited amounts of alcohol or tobacco up to a value of $800.

SOURCE:  U.S. Department of the Treasury and the New York Times

 

WHAT IS THE SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE PROGRAM?

Support for the Cuban People travel has been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to allow travel to Cuba to participate in activities and interactions that enable meaningful exchange between people of the two nations.

 

REMEMBER CUBA has created an extensive itinerary that provides various opportunities to participate in cultural, educational, humanitarian and people-to-people exchanges.  Participants will enjoy art experiences, historical monuments, museums, cultural activities, dance class, performances and more. Per OFAC rules, travelers should keep a travel journal as a record of their trip. This is easy to do since REMEMBER CUBA will provide you detailed itineraries that form the basis of the journal. You should store the journal somewhere safe in your home for at least five years after your trip, just as you keep your tax records and other financial receipts.

 

While you're in Cuba, you must participate in the tour program. That means you need to participate in the activities that are included on the tour. You can't "take a day off" and head to the beach, although you can certainly visit the hotel pool or participate in individual activities during free time.  Please check with your tour operator to ensure you are adhering to the requirements set for by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

 

WHAT ARE THE PASSPORT & VISA REQUIREMENTS?

If you are traveling to Cuba you will need a Tourist Visa, also known as a Tourist Card, to enter the country, along with your passport. It's important to remember that your passport must be valid for at least six (6) months following your departure date from the U.S. and must contain two blank pages.  You can obtain your Tourist Visa through Cuba Travel Services at a cost of $50 per traveler, plus postage. 

 

When you go to the Immigration booth in Cuba, the Immigration Officer will stamp both halves of your Tourist Visa, keep one, and hand the other half back to you.   You must hand in this other half when you clear Cuban immigration on your return home.  We suggest putting a paper clip in your passport prior to departure and clipping the second half of your Tourist Visa to your passport for safekeeping.  We also recommend whenever traveling internationally to make a photocopy of your passport, or take a photo of it with your cell phone, and keep the original in the hotel safe.  You don't want to lose it!  

 

DO WE NEED TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE?

Commercial airlines now provide the required Cuban health insurance coverage in the cost of the ticket.  If you would like to purchase additional insurance to cover trip/flight cancellation, enhanced medical and evacuation coverage, baggage delay/loss and more, you may do so through a number of carriers.  We use Travel Insured International.

 

ADDITIONAL HEALTH INFORMATION

There are no mandatory vaccinations or other health requirements to visit Cuba.  For more information, visit the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

WHAT KIND OF PRODUCTS SHOULD I BRING TO MAKE THE TRIP MORE COMFORTABLE?

 

Electronic Items

  • Power converter (220V > 110V)

  • Battery-powered alarm clock.

  • Extra batteries (any type of battery is expensive in Cuba)

  • Camera

 

Toiletries & Medicine

  • Face Cloths

  • Mosquito Repellent

  • Medications (leave in original bottles and don’t mix medications)

  • Tampons / Pads (very expensive to buy in Cuba)

  • First Aid Travel Kit (Immodium, Band Aids, PolySporin, etc.)

  • Pain killer

  • Shampoo & Conditioner (though small bottles are provided by the hotel)

 

Gifts for Locals

There has been much discussion about bringing gifts for the locals, however in most cases they appreciate toiletries or other small gifts.

Here are some of the things suggested by Americans who have traveled to Cuba:

  • Fishing gear

  • Aspirin/Tylenol

  • Children's Tylenol and multivitamins

  • Razors

  • Shaving cream

  • Deodorant

  • Panty hose

  • Tampons/sanitary napkins

  • Disposable diapers

  • Caps/hats

  • Candy

  • Clothes and toys for children.  Check out the toy store in Todos Y Uno if you want to see what Cuban kids are dreaming about.

  • Vitamins especially the B12 sublinguals

  • Baseball and soccer equipment

  • Towels, bed linen, kitchen utensils

  • Watches

  • Cash (always a good gift)

  • Socks - plain white children's socks go with their school uniform

  • Underwear - not always easy to find

  • Books - if you take a novel down to read leave it behind

  • Same with gossip sheets - they love them

  • Lotions and lip balms

  • Work gloves for the gardeners and grounds keepers.

  • Reading glasses from $1 store

Don't forget that anything you take for your personal use, (clothing, towels or face cloths, sunscreen, hair conditioner, etc), are also appreciated if you don't need to take them home. And it makes more room for your souvenirs!

 

WHAT ELECTRICAL CURRENT IS USED?

Cuba has 110 volt, some more luxury hotels also provides 220.  It is advisable to bring a converter, if your electronics are not travel-ready (105-240 V).