Can Americans go to Cuba??? How we visited Cuba as American Citizens

We visited Havana, Cuba in September of 2023 and this everything we did in order to enter the country

5 min read

Can American citizens go to Cuba??

In short, YES! American citizens can absolutely go to Cuba, but there are a few hoops you have to jump through because Cuba is not open for American Tourism. In September of 2023, we decided to go to Cuba on a whim for no reason other than we found a good deal on miles with Southwest Airlines, and I'm all about a good deal. After booking our flights it dawned on me that we were leaving in TWO WEEKS and I had no idea how we were going to enter a country that hasn't necessarily always been on good terms with the US. After a LOT of research and texting friends who had recently been, this is everything I learned in order to visit Cuba!

Before I get started please don't let this process scare you off, we absolutely loved Cuba and would love to go back some day. There are some confusing things we had to do prior to travel but it was so worth it!

One important thing to note is that legally Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba for tourism purposes so all of your documents will need to indicate that your purpose of travel is "Support of the Cuban People" commit that one to memory because you will be asked it a lot.

Required Documents

Unexpired Passport

  • I know this one seems obvious but make sure that your passport will not expire within 6 months of your RETURN date. For example if you're traveling September 3-6 but your passport is set to expire on the 5th you will not be granted entry into the country

Cuban Visa

  • This can be bought through your airline, at the departure airport, or on the Cuban Visa Services Website (this is where the airline will send you and it's the same price). We flew Southwest Airlines out of the Fort Lauderdale airport and opted to buy it through the airline, they emailed us a link shortly after buying our flights. It ended up costing us $35 more due to shipping costs...crazy I know that they charged $30 for shipping but it did save us the peace of mind not having to worry about it at this airport. However, if I were to do it over again I would buy it at the airport because it was cheaper and that's what most of the other passengers did.

  • The price of the visa is $50 per person and and additional $35 for shipping if bought online

Health Declaration Form

  • This form must be filled out no more than 48 hours prior to travel and you will need to submit proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test. We submitted proof of vaccination and then brought our vaccine cards just incase. I would recommend printing this in addition to having it on your phone as there wasn't free wifi at the airport.

  • The form can be found on the D'VIAJEROS online portal or by clicking the hyperlink

Travel Insurance/Health Travel Insurance

  • Health Travel Insurance is required prior to entry into Cuba, ours was included with the purchase of our Southwest tickets however, this was only medical coverage and would not cover any other events such as theft, weather, delays etc.

  • We ended up buying our own individual trip insurance policy through Travel Insured International however, RoamRight is another great option. As a travel agent I ALWAYS encourage my clients to buy trip insurance because you just never know what will happen. If you have any questions on trip insurance or would like help buying it please reach out and I would be happy to help!

Accomodations and Acitivites

Something we noticed that continually popped up for us when filling out the form was that we had to list our accommodation address. This wasn't particularly difficult but we did have to reach out to our airbnb host and request the address in advance which he was happy to provide. I'll link the Airbnb we stayed in below, our host was so kind and picked us up and dropped us off at the airport. His price was a bit higher than a taxi ($30 each way) but much more reliable.

As Americans we were not allowed to stay in any hotel in Cuba because they are all owned by the government, which is why we booked an Airbnb. I did try looking on other sites such as booking.com or expedia but they didn't seem to offer any stays in all of Cuba.

We decided to stay in the Old Havana neighborhood because I really wanted to experience the culture and it was a very walkable area. Alternatively if you're looking for a bit more of a modern stay the Vedado neighborhood is also very nice and close to the US Embassy.

This was our AirBnb in Old Havana, we had the entire apartment to ourselves and felt incredibly safe the whole time. We were very close to the water and many restaurants.

When booking our trip I also read a few places that you had to provide your trip itinerary to the government upon entry. We were never asked for this however, I went ahead and pre-booked two AirBnb experiences just to have us covered. I ran into the same issue when trying to book activities as I did when looking for accommodations as none of the regular booking engines offered any excursions in Cuba. AirBnb was also the only place I could easily book individual excursions without having to book an entire guided vacation.

We booked two experiences with AirBnb that were amazing. However, you'll noticed the prices are very low, like sometimes $8-10 but, if you read the fine print it'll say bring an additional X number of dollars cash when you meet your guide. While this definitely sounds like a scam at first this is their way around the government taking a large cut of their profit. Both of our experiences were an additional $25-$30/person which is still very affordable and we paid them in USD cash when we met them.

Final things to add...

Per the US government you are required to keep a copy of all receipts from anything purchased in Cuba. This includes your VISA, flight, hotel, dinner etc.

We followed this to an extent and basically anything that was bought in cash we didn't keep the receipt but we do still have copies of our flight invoices, visas, insurance invoice, airbnb, and airbnb experiences.

Our short trip to Cuba was one of my favorite trips we've taken and such a memorable place. If you're considering going definitely take the leap and book the trip. We felt very safe and the locals were so kind and welcoming.

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