The Only 12 Ways You Can Legally Travel to Cuba
Just last month, we saw the first nonstop flight from Kennedy Airport in New York to Havana, Cuba, since January, when President Obama announced an easing of travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba. You’ve probably heard someone utter the words, “Now’s the time to go,” and perhaps the thought has crossed your own mind. But before you gets your hopes up that Cuba will be the next Tulum, let us point out that traditional tourism is still banned in the country.
The policy is for the most part the same as it was before January—your travel must fit into one of 12 categories outlined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the Cuba embargo remains in place. There is, however, one distinction. Now, instead of having to cut through the bureautcratic red tape to obtain a specialized license from the government, the OFAC has issued general licenses for authorized travel. Visitors to Cuba can effectively claim they’re traveling under of the 12 approved categories, and then book a flight.
So what types of travel are permitted? Keep reading to find out!
- 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
- Certain authorized export transactions
The allowance of all of this “Purposeful Travel,” as the White House has described it, is designed to “increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities.” It’s only a matter of time—we hope—before we see restrictions loosened on tourism. After all, we could always use a proper vacation.