Cuba Travel for Americans Unchanged, for Now
On April 17, 2019 the Trump administration announced plans for new policies on travel and trade to Cuba, including increased restrictions on non-family travel to the island. As with past announcements, the majority of press coverage so far has drawn conclusions unsupported by known facts and left travelers more confused! So, we're here to cut through the noise and lay out the facts as we know them about legal Cuba travel from the U.S.
What are the new Cuba travel rules?
In his speech on April 17 in Miami, U.S. national security advisor John Bolton announced plans to issue new limits on non-family travel to Cuba. However, the speech was very short on specifics, saying only that "[t]he Department of the Treasury will implement further regulatory changes to restrict non-family travel to Cuba.” They did not indicate what the new restrictions could be when they take effect in the future.
When will the new rules come out?
The Treasury Department is responsible for actually writing new rules, and it has said only that it will issue them "in the coming months", and then those proposed new rules will be subject to public comment before being formally implemented. This means any new rules will not take effect for at least another 90-120 days, and indeed the last time the Trump administration revised the Cuba restrictions this process took nearly 5 months!
So can I still make plans to travel to Cuba?
Yes – until the Treasury Department issues new written regulations, the current Cuba travel rules remain in effect. You can proceed with any already paid and planned trip, or indeed still book a new trip for this spring or summer.
Once any new rules go into effect, trips that are already under deposit have always been allowed to proceed. So, you should book your trip sooner rather than later, in order to be covered by the current rules.
What is allowed under the current rules?
Most Americans travel Cuba under one of 12 general licenses issued by the Treasury Department. These licenses are the types of trips that are permitted, and most Americans travel under “Support for the Cuban People” (for private travel) or “People to People” (for escorted group travel). All of these general licenses require travelers to maintain a full daily schedule of cultural interactions with the Cuban people – something we make easy for travelers with our full-service private itineraries. All travelers simply sign a document for any tour company, airline or cruise line beforehand self-certifying which general license their trip falls under, and then depart to Cuba.
It's good to remember that there have always government regulations governing travel to Cuba since 1963, and changes to them are not a new occurrence. Almaz Journeys keeps close tabs on the rules to help our clients understand and comply.
Have more questions about the rules or want to get a trip planned before they change? Send us an email or call us today (877-333-4988).