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".

What Are the Changes?

As of now, nothing. While Bolton alluded that there will be changes, he was not specific as to what the changes would be and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the department in charge of imposing and enforcing these regulations, has not published any changes.

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

No, keep your travel plans. When the new regulations are posted it is not likely they will affect travel already purchased, no matter what dates you travel on.  This was the case with the Trump Administration’s June 2017 announcement, the changes did not take effect until November 2017 when the new regulations were issued. Anyone that had made some financial transaction prior to the June announcement (for example booking a hotel, tour, or plane ticket) was not impacted by the new regulations and could make whatever additional transactions were necessary for their trip.

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

Yes, until the regulations are issued the current ones are still in effect. However, you should not wait. Bolton did not mention specific general license categories that would be eliminated, but another announcement could come any day that further defines the changes, or OFAC regulations could be issued at any time, any travel booked after this time is most likely going to be affected. The best thing to do would be to book your trip to Cuba immediately.

Any Idea of What the Changes Will Be?

No one really knows, but rumor has it that People to People and Support for Cuban People general license categories will be eliminated, going back to Bush era travel rules.  It could be that People to People travel goes back to being legal under a specific license, meaning that Americans will only be able to travel with companies that have applied and approved by OFAC. It is not known yet whether cruise ship travel will be eliminated. 

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