The staff at Mambi Tours is specialized in preparing people-to-people cultural exchanges for travelers originating their travel from the United States, and who wish to travel in compliance with current federal regulations relating to travel to Cuba. We can prepare custom tour packages for a couple, or a group of thirty, and anything in between. […]
Getting to Cuba and Customs and Inmigration Regulations
Getting to Cuba
For the majority of travelers to Cuba the most common mode of transportation to the island is through air travel, because although Cuba is an island, it does not have regularly scheduled maritime connections to any of its neighboring nations.The island is connected to commercial air service from Asia, Europe, and North America. Cuba has twelve international airports located around the island, and nine domestic airports.
Maritime travel to the island is limited to private vessels and cruise lines, with cruise ship passenger volume increasing recently with the recent improvement in relations with the United States.
The following is a list of the largest private vessel marinas, and cruise ship terminals:
- Marina Hemingway, Havana
- Cubanco Cruise Terminal, Havana
- Puertosol Tarara, East Havana
- Puertosol Darsena, Varadero
- Chapelin Marina, Varadero
- Gaviota Varadero, Varadero
- Puertosol Cayo Coco-Cayo Guillermo, Ciego de Avila
- International Marina Puerto de Vita, Holguin
- Puertosol International Diving Center Maria la Gorda, Pinar del Rio
- Gaviota Isle of Youth Marina, Isle of Yout
- Puertosol Cayo Largo del Sur, Isle of Youth
- Puertosol Cienfuegos, Cienfuegos
- Punta Gorda Marina, Santiago de Cuba
All private vessels should contact port authorities before entering Cuban territorial waters, which are twelve nautical miles from the shoreline. Port authorities throughout the island are can be reached on VHF Channel 68 on the Northern coast of Cuba, and VHF Channel 16 on the Southern coast.
Visitors to Cuba should have a passport issued in their name, with the corresponding entry visa or tourist card. Passports should be valid for twelve months past your arrival date. Tourist entry cards can be obtained at any Cuban embassy or consulate outside of the island, and certain airlines and travel agencies. Tourists visas are available for individual travelers, and for groups. Travelers entering the island to conduct business must obtain a business specific visa.
Tourists entering Cuba are allowed to bring cameras, laptops, diving equipment, sporting equipment, and other goods that are reasonably deemed necessary during their stay. You may also import goods worth $250 in Convertible Cuban Pesos duty free, the first $50 may enter duty free, and the remaining $200 must pay a duty of 100% of the value of the item. There is no limit on the amount of cash that you may bring with you, however, any amount over $5,000 USD should be declared on your customs form. The importation of certain communications equipment, such as radio transmitters and satellite phones require a special import license.
More information regarding Cuban custom’s regulations is available here at Aduana de la Republica de Cuba, by clicking here
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS RELATED TO CUBA
Where can I find the most recent amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR)?
Are sanctions on Cuba still in place following the President’s announcement on December 17, 2014?
Yes, the Cuba embargo remains in place. Most transactions between the United States, or persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and Cuba continue to be prohibited, and OFAC continues to enforce the prohibitions of the CACR. The regulatory changes, effective in January, June, and September 2015, as well as in January and March 2016, respectively, are targeted to further engage and empower the Cuban people by facilitating authorized travel to Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction; certain authorized commerce and financial transactions; and the flow of information to, from, and within Cuba.
For questions regarding travel and accompanied baggage between the United States and Cuba, see the https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/guidance_cuba_travel.pdf
What are the travel authorizations in the Cuba program?
OFAC has issued general licenses within the 12 categories of authorized travel for many travel-related transactions to, from, or within Cuba that previously required a specific license (i.e., an application and a case-by-case determination).
Travel-related transactions are permitted by general license for certain travel related to the following activities, subject to the criteria and conditions in each general license: 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; and certain authorized export transactions.
Do travelers who fall within the scope of a general license need to submit a written request to OFAC for permission to travel or conduct transactions?
No. No further permission from 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 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.
Is travel to Cuba for tourist activities permitted?
No. Consistent with the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA), travel-related transactions involving Cuba are only permitted for the 12 categories of activities identified in the CACR. Travel-related transactions for other purposes remain prohibited.
Who is generally authorized to engage in travel-related transactions for “religious activities”?
OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior specific licensing policy and authorizes, subject to conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are directly incident to religious activities in Cuba. All persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including religious organizations located in the United States and members and staff of such organizations, are generally authorized to engage in travel-related transactions that are directly incident to engaging in religious activities in Cuba provided, among other things that the travel must be for the purpose of engaging in a program of religious activities. The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba.
What are examples of a full-time schedule of activities for authorized travelers?
Authorized travelers to Cuba pursuant to most general license categories are expected to maintain a full-time schedule of activities consistent with the terms of the general license they are traveling pursuant to. For example:
- An individual traveling to Cuba for four days pursuant to the authorization for professional research and professional meetings, such as a professional architect, could participate in a two-day conference on Cuban architecture that directly relates to the traveler’s profession, followed by one day of meetings with Cuban nationals engaging in historical preservation of colonial and baroque buildings in Havana. The following day the traveler could engage in a full day of site visits and fact-finding around Havana at key architectural sites.
- An individual traveling pursuant to the authorization for journalistic activities could engage in three full days of interviews with local residents, followed by one full day of follow up investigative research at local institutions.
Can I purchase a ticket to Cuba directly from an airline based or operating out of the United States?
Yes, provided that you are authorized to travel to Cuba pursuant to an OFAC general or specific license. Airlines and travelers are responsible for maintaining records of their Cuba-related transactions for at least five years.
Are there any spending limits for authorized U.S. travelers while in Cuba?
There is no specific dollar limit on authorized expenses. Authorized travelers may engage in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba, including payment of living expenses and the acquisition in Cuba of goods for personal consumption there. In addition, travelers are authorized to acquire in Cuba and import as accompanied baggage into the United States merchandise with a value not to exceed $400 per person, provided that no more than $100 of the merchandise consists of alcohol or tobacco products and the merchandise is imported for personal use only.
Are there any restrictions on what foreign persons entering the United States from travel that included Cuba may bring in their accompanied baggage?
A non-U.S. person (i.e. not a U.S. citizen or resident) arriving in the United States is authorized to import Cuban-origin merchandise, other than tobacco and alcohol, as accompanied baggage provided the merchandise is not in commercial quantities and not imported for resale. If the non-U.S. person is arriving in the United States from a trip that included travel to Cuba, the person also is authorized to import as accompanied baggage alcohol or tobacco products purchased or otherwise acquired in Cuba with a value not to exceed $100 for personal use only.
Can I purchase Cuban-origin cigars and/or Cuban-origin rum or other alcohol while traveling in Cuba?
Persons authorized to travel to Cuba may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption while there. Authorized travelers may return to the United States with up to $100 worth of alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba in accompanied baggage, for personal use only.
As an authorized traveler, may I travel from a third country to Cuba and from Cuba to a third country?
Yes, a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction engaging in authorized travel-related transactions may travel to Cuba from a third country or to a third country from Cuba. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction traveling to and from Cuba via a third country may only do so if their travel-related transactions are authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, and are subject to the same restrictions and requirements as persons traveling directly from the United States.
May crew or other personnel involved in the operation of aircraft or vessels transporting authorized travelers to Cuba remain in Cuba along with the aircraft or vessel?
Yes. Effective January 27, 2016, the general license authorizing travel-related transactions incident to the exportation or reexportation of authorized goods includes travel-related and such other transactions directly incident to the facilitation of the temporary sojourn of aircraft and vessels authorized by the Department of Commerce for travel between the United States and Cuba and that are transporting other authorized travelers. This authorization includes the travel-related transactions by personnel who are required for normal operation and service on board a vessel or aircraft or who are required to provide services to a vessel in port or aircraft on the ground. Travel-related transactions by such personnel must be limited to the duration and scope of their duties in relation to the particular authorized temporary sojourn.