US Embassy offers Americans five tips about Cuba travel

Posted: 09-Sep-16 12:22

Although tourism to the island is still not permitted for American citizens, travel to Cuba is now possible thanks to the legalisation of twelve categories. For those US travellers that wish to make the trip, the US Embassy in Cuba shares five tips that will come in handy before and during their visit.

US Embassy offers Americans five tips about Cuba travel

Since Obama announced his decision to re-establish diplomatic bonds with the Cuban government in December, 2014, travel restrictions between both countries have loosened. Due to US embargo, Americans are not yet permitted to travel freely to the island as tourists, however certain new transformations have brought along the legalisation of 12 categories that allow for US citizens to visit.

The US Embassy in Cuba, which re-opened on 20th July, 2016 recently published a video offering helpful council to Americans wishing to visit Cuba. This institution answers important matters that many people wonder about when planning their trip in the form of five main bullet points all US travellers must keep in mind.

How Americans can visit Cuba

As mentioned earlier, the only way for Americans to be able to enter Cuba is by fitting into one of the 12 legal categories of travel to the island. These include family visits, journalistic activities, public performances and people-to-people travel. More information on each one can be found in the Embassy’s webpage.

How to get a visa

Embassy officials inform that Americans can get their visa by “applying to the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C.”.

Nevertheless, it can be easier and more straightforward to apply for this travel permit through one of several companies specializing in travel to Cuba. Most of these agencies offer extensive services that go from processing your visa application to making flight reservations on your behalf.

How to get to Cuba

With commercial flights resuming between the two countries after 50 years of hostility, travelling to the island has become much simpler. Regular and direct air service commenced on 31st August with the first flight from JetBlue landing in the island. Reserving flights online through third country airlines is also a possibility, yet close to unnecessary with the new transformations.

Before this development came along, charter flights were the only option, but most charter companies are now threated by US carriers that have been given permission to operate commercial service like American Airlines which should start September 2016.

How to make payments in Cuba

All American citizens must make sure they bring enough cash to last their entire trip, as US Credit and Debit cards do not currently work in Cuba. US dollars can be exchangeable into Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) at the airport, hotels or exchange houses. Travellers must bear in mind that there is usually a 10 per cent charge on exchanging US currency.

How to communicate in Cuba

There is a difficult reality all visitors must face when coming to Cuba: limited connectivity. Travellers must be prepared for limited Internet and mobile phone access. Nonetheless, this panorama is slowly looking brighter as certain American companies have begun cooperating with Cuba’s telecom company. Recent developments show that AT&T and ETECSA just signed an agreement for roaming and interconnection.

In any case, the US Embassy advices to “consult your US provider on availability and rates”, as Internet access is very limited throughout the country and only available in public Wi-Fi areas as well as some hotels, like the Melia hotel chain which has installed Wi-Fi hotspot throughout all its properties.

While in Cuba

The US Embassy reminds all its citizens they are protected by this institution whilst in Cuba. Embassy officials conclude that:

“While you’re in Cuba the American Citizens Services section at the US Embassy in Havana can assist you with emergencies, such as replacing lost or stolen passports, hospitalizations, arrests, death cases of American citizens, or evacuation due to natural disasters or civil disorder”.

These tips answer the most frequent questions that come up in all American’s minds that are planning to visit. If US citizens have any other doubts while thinking about their trip to Cuba, they can contact the Embassy or visit their website at any time.


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