Are you confused about what’s happening with the Cuba travel rules for Americans in 2019? If so, that is totally understandable!

Creating confusion and uncertainty seems to be part of the strategy of the US government to reduce the number of tourists and money entering Cuba.

But don’t worry, we have you covered. Legal travel to Cuba in 2019 & 2020 is still possible! See below our full explanation below.

Your Questions Answered

On April 17th U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton announced a series of measures to put economic pressures on Cuba in order to force it to stop helping Venezuela. Included among these economic measures Bolton said they will be restricting non-family travel to Cuba for Americans that he referred to as "veiled tourism".

On June 4th, the Office of Foreign Assets Control published the changes and amended the regulations in order to implement Bolton’s threats. The new regulations went into effect June 5, 2019.

On October 25th the White House announced further changes to restrict travel to Cuba by eliminating commercial flights to some destinations. 

What Are the Changes?

First, we want to point out that Support for the Cuban People (515.574) is still a valid general license category, as are most of the other general license categories.

The changes that will most affect tourist to travel are as follows:

  1. 515.565(b) People to People (P2P) travel has been eliminated as of June 5.
  2. Cruise ship travel is no longer permitted as of June 5.
  3. Commercial flights to cities other than Havana (e.g. Santa Clara, Holguin, Santiago) will be eliminated as of December 10. Charter flights have not been eliminated, so it is still possible to fly from to these provinces from the US.

As with Trump's 2017 changes, any transactions (e.g. flight or hotel booking) made prior to June 5th were grandfathered in and thus still legal. However, the cancellation of cruises and some commercial flights had an immediate impact on travelers. 

I Have Already Booked Travel to Cuba, Should I Cancel?

No, keep your travel plans. It is rational to be concerned that the Trump Administration could further restrict travel in the future, but anyone that has made some financial transaction related to their trip prior to the announcement is not likely to be impacted by the new regulations and can make whatever additional transactions are necessary. 

I Haven’t Booked Anything Yet, Can I Still Travel to Cuba?

Yes, however, you should not wait. The Trump administration can further restrict Cuba travel at their will. It will remain this way until congress acts to lift the embargo. The best thing to do would be to book your trip to Cuba immediately. If you are concerned that Havana flights could be cancelled consider that the more people who book these flights, the greater the financial impact on the airlines should the Trump Administration cancel them. The pushback from the airlines may prohibit further restriction. 

A bicycle taxi driver waits for customers at the Parque del Cristo in Havana
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