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Up until only a few years ago, travel to and from Cuba was strictly held to only educational, familial and other specific, diplomatic exceptions. Since, 2014, new rules have been in place to thaw relations between the US and Cuba. For the first time in generations, Americas were allowed for the first time in many years to travel to Cuba without requesting permission from the U.S. government in advance. This is because Americans were now able to travel under a “General License.”

General License encompasses 12 specific criteria that are allowed for general travel to Cuba that do not require advanced US Govt permissions.

12 Categories of Authorized Travel to Cuba

These types of travel are approved by the U.S. government for travel to Cuba:

  • Family visits;
  • Official government business;
  • Journalism;
  • Professional research and professional meetings;
  • Educational activities;
  • Religious activities;
  • Public performances, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions;
  • Support for the Cuban People;
  • Humanitarian projects;
  • Activities of private foundations or institutes;
  • Import and export activities;
  • Authorized export transactions.

Under the specified “Support for the Cuban People” category, visitors affirm that all of their travel, dining, stay and tours will be done in a manner that benefits locally and individually-owned, Cuban businesses, effectively, supporting the people of Cuba.

Simply put, this means that all of your stay and travel is to the benefit of private Cuban citizens. A genuine Support for the Cuban People trip has to center all activities that support the Cuban people. Effectively, you can’t justify a trip to Cuba just because one thing you’re planning to do will support the Cuban people. The trip itself has to be focused on support of the Cuban people from all aspects.

Documenting Support for the Cuban People Activities and Stays

It’s often easier to travel under this section with tour groups since specific engagements should be documented to ensure that the itinerary is in keeping with the rules. Cuban Travel tour groups generally make this easier by ensuring all aspects of the trip are verified and authorized beforehand. Additionally, the rules also state that you will hold onto documentation of travel for 5 years after returning. For this reason, it is good to use a reputable tour group since they will be maintaining documents anyway.

While these documents are required to be held and maintained for the 5 year period, actual investigation of them upon returning to the US is incredibly rare. In most instance, a statement of travel under the Support for Cuban People has been sufficient when reentering customs.

Ultimately, this method of travel ensures that your stay will not only be enjoyable and unique but will benefit the people most directly engaging with you during your visit.