The Return of the Embargo? Can I still go to Cuba?

As rumors in the media grow about President Trump’s impending decisions about the embargo on Cuba, many Americans are wondering if the opportunity to travel to Cuba is about to end. Here are the answers:

In December 2014 President Obama announced he had been in conversations with Raul Castro of Cuba, and plans were under way to loosen the embargo on Cuba.  This was followed by an exchange of political prisoners between the two countries.

Since then, Presidents Obama’s office continued to loosen travel restrictions.  The one that was most obvious was that Americans no longer had to submit a proposal the the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) requesting a visa. These visas were often denied if the itinerary did not show 8 hours every day of activities that fit into one of twelve categories:

  • These categories are: 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.

The change in January 2015 allowed for Americans to sign a form a the airport hours prior to travel to Cuba saying that they would be traveling in one of these 12 categories, without providing proof.  This allowed many Americans to hedge around the restrictions and wander Cuba at will.  You can learn more in this article: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/30/politics/trump-cuba-policy/

If President Trump returns the embargo to the pre-January 2015 embargo, how will Americans be able to go to Cuba?

The most common AND legal way to travel to Cuba has always been as part of an educational, people-to-people tour.  Tour companies that have been working with Americans have created itineraries that fit securely within the US government restrictions of 8 hours a day of full itinerary, people-to-people interactions, enabling Cubans and Americans to interact and learn from each other in meaningful ways.

Viva Cuba tours have been designed to fit within strict embargo laws.  Partnering with Cuban experts in the tourist industry who have been legally leading American groups for more than 14 years, we have upheld the high standards of the US government for Americans traveling in Cuba.  We believe that if one chooses to enjoy the freedoms of living in the United States, we must always play within the rules, pay our taxes, and follow the restrictions of the embargo, even if we don’t fully agree with politics.

You will still be able travel legally to Cuba.

If you are looking to visit Cuba in the next year, look for tour companies that guarantee they comply with strict US embargo rules.  You’ll still be able to go, it just takes more diligence on the tour company’s behalf!