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I may be visiting the US soon for both work (conference) and leisure (sight-seeing) but was wondering whether it is possible to pay a visit to Cuba, as I see that direct commercial flights have been restarted. From what I can tell, it is still not permitted for US citizens to travel to Cuba as tourists (from the US embassy in Cuba).

What is the legal status of European citizens - would it be permitted for me to travel as a tourist from, say, Florida to Cuba on a commercial flight? Would this cause problems for me on my return to the US?

I understand that the question has been asked before (see here) but the situation has changed and I believe it warrants asking again.

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    +1, great Q and totally warrants a new post (thanks for linking to the old Q) given the changed circumstances of better relations between the two countries and the recently introduced direct commercial flights. – mts Feb 7 '17 at 10:08
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    Isn't the common attitude here that even if the answers to a question are outdated, it is still a duplicate question. The correct (updated) answer should be added to the old question and the new question be closed as a duplicate? We had exactly the same situation just a few days ago here: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/87301/… – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Feb 7 '17 at 17:30
  • I agree - the question remains the same, but the answers of the original question are outdated, which was why I reasked the question. The solutions offered here are also more nuanced than to the older question. – tiit_helimut Feb 8 '17 at 8:18
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    If the answers on this one are the most updated, we should close the other one as a duplicate of this one. – JoErNanO Feb 8 '17 at 9:15
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Legally speaking, you are not permitted to travel to Cuba from the United States for touristic purposes. The regulations bind "persons subject to US jurisdiction" which includes most people who happen to be in the United States, regardless of their citizenship, as well as US citizens wherever they are. As you will be in the United States at the time of departure, that includes you.

Although you are very unlikely to be examined on the outbound journey, you could be denied entry on your return to the United States if during your entry examination this fact comes to light.

In principle if you were to book two separate flights, one to Mexico City and an onward one to Havana, on separate tickets, and making the booking while outside the United States, it seems to me you would not be in violation of the order. (Providing you are not otherwise subject to US jurisdiction.)

Given the present climate, I would be cautious in attempting to circumvent this ban by misrepresenting your activities in Cuba, but that is a risk for the reader to weigh.

See also the following Treasury advice: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/guidance_cuba_travel.pdf

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    This can be done via Canada, too - WestJet and Air Canada both fly to Cuba out of Toronto and other airports, particularly in the winter. – Jim MacKenzie Nov 14 '17 at 18:10
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There are several direct flights from USA cities to Havana (I just checked a few minutes ago) and there are flights available. Things have not changed under the Trump administration, as yet.

To travel you need a Tourist card. The information for a UK citizen visiting Cuba is found here:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/cuba/entry-requirements

There is no indication you would have problems returning to the USA just from the travel, so far as you don't bring items from there which could be seen as trading with Cuba.

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    Thanks for the answer. Reading further down the entry requirements page on the FCO, I see the following statement: "Travelling for tourism reasons directly from the USA to Cuba isn’t allowed under US law. The law applies to US nationals and all foreign nationals who are either resident in the USA, or travelling through the USA en route to Cuba". I guess this suggests it is still not permitted for EU nationals to fly through to Cuba from the US (unless we fall into one of the 12 categories listed on the US embassy page)? – tiit_helimut Feb 7 '17 at 11:42
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    As of January 16th, 2015 Americans no longer need to apply for specific licenses in advance if they fit one of the 12 special categories. And no immigration official tries to verify if you CLAIM to fit one of the special categories. Basically even if you're asked, they will take your word for it. No document required. – user 56513 Feb 7 '17 at 11:55
  • So we do not need proof of whether we fall into one of the 12 categories? My only concern is that on the off-chance that I was challenged, I would not have sufficient reason to travel there. Legally, I would also be in a quandary, as the FCO is very clear about the law applying to non-US nationals travelling through, so I would have no defence! Not sure if you've seen my previous questions, but I am no longer eligible for a US visa-waiver and require a full B1/B2 Visa. I guess it is speculative but am I likely to arouse more suspicion because of this? – tiit_helimut Feb 7 '17 at 12:17
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    Previously you needed to apply for specific licences in advance. Now you don't. However if you are asked, you must have proof. The proof can be oral. For example two categories are Religious activities and Support for the Cuban people;. – user 56513 Feb 7 '17 at 12:43
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    @tiit_helimut You could make a fine case that attending church service falls under Religious activities. Or sending a box of crayons and coloring books and $10 walmart eyeglasses qualifies as Support for the Cuban people. tripcentral.ca/blog/things-to-bring-to-Cuba. Your being on visa doesn't change anything. No European of sound mind is expected to illegally overstay in Cuba. – user 56513 Feb 7 '17 at 12:50
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I agree with Calchas, you should definitely be careful. I live in the U.S. (visitor visa), have a European passport and just came back from Cuba. I was pretty concerned about this as well, so here my experience: Flying to Cuba was not a problem at all, you just need to buy a visa. Also, I had no problems when coming back to the U.S. at all (the officer at customs only asked me what I did in the U.S.), BUT you should bear in mind that non-U.S. citizens entering the U.S. are almost always asked at customs 1) what they're doing in the U.S. and 2) what they were doing abroad (if they live here), meaning that you have to be prepared to answer the latter question without mentioning anything that might be considered as tourism in Cuba.

I didn't want to risk anything, so I had my travel agency prepare me a complete schedule of my trip to Cuba, which stressed activities considered as educational and people-to-people interaction (always accompanied by a local guide). No mentions of anything that may be considered as tourism.

I would recommend always to book your trip with a U.S. travel agency, as they are familiar with all the regulations and work with licensed Cuban agencies. They will give you a schedule that you can present at U.S. customs and the visa you need to enter Cuba.

I hope this helps!

  • 1
    "I live in the U.S. (visitor visa)" You live there on a visit visa? If so you're an illegal immigrant – Crazydre Nov 14 '17 at 19:41

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