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I'm French and I'm going to the United States soon and I want to visit Cuba on the same trip. Is it possible to do so from the United States? I have French passport and am living in France.

What does the United States law say?

  • 1
    Afaik there are no direct flights US-Cuba, I think that should be your main concern. You have to fly by Canada or Mexico. Legal? I don't think there is a problem, but I don't know. – Bernhard Aug 17 '14 at 20:22
  • @Bernhard There are plenty of direct flights MIA-HAV, but as far as I can tell they are all charters. – Michael Hampton Aug 17 '14 at 20:57
  • This should be closed as a duplicate of this new question, once the new question has answers, as the situation has changed, and the answers on this question are now likely obsolete. – Flimzy Feb 7 '17 at 11:19
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What's restricted in the US is most forms of trade with Cuba. Travel is therefore de facto forbidden for US citizens and permanent residents as they are not allowed to spend any money in Cuba. However, traveling to Cuba is not forbidden as such and there is a licensing system and even a number of charter flights and US-based organized tours of Cuba. In any case, my understanding is that, as a French citizen residing outside the US, you are not concerned by these rules.

Furthermore, it is also forbidden to import goods from Cuba (except “information material” like books or CDs), no matter where you purchased them. So if you have Cuban cigars or souvenirs with you when entering the US, they can be confiscated and destroyed and you could also be fined or even (theoretically) jailed. Formally, this restriction does apply to visitors and citizens of foreign countries, even if they are merely transiting.

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There are no direct flights from the US to Cuba. However there are direct flights from neighbouring countries. There are frequent flights from major Canadian airports, and from Mexico City and Cancun in Mexico (and probably other Mexican airports), as well as Jamaica and many Central American and Caribbean locations (not, obviously, US territories like Puerto Rico). To get to Cuba you buy a ticket to one of those places, and then another ticket to Cuba from there. You would need to use a non-US agent or website to buy the Cuba ticket. Many people do this, including US citizens.

There is nothing illegal about doing this if you are not a US citizen. Even the US doesn't believe it can regulate what non-US citizens do outside the US. You should be be careful that you do not do anything that could be considered trade with Cuba, such as bringing anything more than personal items purchased in Cuba to the US. It would probably be best not to advertize anything you bought in Cuba when you return to the US.

EDIT: Importing small quantities of Cuban-sourced goods is done all the time, even by US citizens. The Canadian border towns are full of stores advertising Cuban cigars, aimed at visiting Americans. Bringing personal items sourced in Cuba into the US is not itself illegal, only trade with Cuba. If you were bringing enough Cuban goods into the US that it might be considered trade, that would be a problem. Bringing stuff for your own use is not a problems.

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    (+1) Bringing Cuban goods used to be allowed (up to USD 100 worth) but it is now explicitly forbidden (see the link in my answer). It's still done and apparently tolerated but that's something else. It is in itself illegal. – Relaxed Aug 18 '14 at 15:25
  • The first line of this answer is incorrect as of Nov 2019. Cities such as Tampa and Miami offer direct flights to Havana – Phill Nov 6 '19 at 12:20

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