Travel to Cuba Still Possible Despite New Regulations

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced tighter restrictions on travel between the United States and Cuba. While tourist travel to Cuba is banned by the U.S., there are twelve categories of authorized travel that allow Americans to visit the island nation:

  • 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, workshops, clinics, competitions, and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
  • Certain authorized export transactions

All travelers must fall under one of these strict categories in order to visit Cuba, contrary to the travel methods of the past year, where many would travel on a self-organized trip under the loosely enforced “support for the Cuban people” category. Now, those who travel under this category must prove that they spent their trip interacting with the Cuban people and experiencing the culture on a full time schedule. These trips must be organized through tour groups, but many agencies will create private, custom itineraries for families and groups of friends. Americans who have already completed any travel booking to Cuba (flights, accommodations, etc.) prior to the publication of the new regulations on November 9 are not required to cancel their trips.

The U.S. government has also imposed restrictions on 180 Cuban businesses that are affiliated with or benefit the Cuban government, such as state-run hotels and shops. This is in order to encourage Americans to support private enterprise in Cuba by utilizing privately owned accommodations, restaurants, and shops.

While the Trump administration reversed the loosened regulations enacted by the Obama administration in 2015, it is still very possible for Americans to visit Cuba and engage in the culture.