Cuba Travel Guide
What You Need to Know

As you may have heard, in June of 2019, the United States government has enacted new travel restrictions for Americans going to Cuba. One of these restrictions has officially ended the “People to People” travel category, under which we have taken thousands of Americans to Cuba since 1997. However, Americans are still allowed to go to Cuba with Road Scholar, because we qualify under a separate but similar approved travel category called “Support for the Cuban People.”

 

In fact, if you are interested in going to Cuba, now is the time to go. In the future, the United States government may revoke even more approved travel categories, making it impossible for most Americans to go to Cuba at all. 

Have questions about going to Cuba?

We’re here to help. See answers to some questions below, and if you still have more questions, feel free to get in touch with us directly.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Travel to Cuba

 

I am currently enrolled in a Road Scholar program to Cuba. Can I still go?

If you enrolled in one of our Cuba programs before June 5, 2019, before the new travel regulations went into effect, you have a “grandfathered” exemption and can still travel under our “People to People” license.

How about if I enrolled in a Road Scholar program to Cuba after June 5th? Can I still go?

Yes! This change in policy will not impact Road Scholar’s authority to bring Americans to Cuba in the future, because we will now qualify under a separate but similar travel category called “Support for the Cuban People.”

Is Road Scholar offering programs to Cuba in the future?

Yes! We meet the requirements for the approved travel category called “Support for the Cuban People” and are authorized to bring Americans to Cuba in the future.

I am enrolled in a Road Scholar shipboard program to Cuba. Are cruise ships still going to Cuba?

Americans will no longer be able to take cruises that stop in Cuban ports. For those of you currently enrolled in an Adventures Afloat program to Cuba we'll be reaching out as soon as possible with your best options.

What are the U.S. government-approved categories of travel to Cuba?

Here is the full list of U.S. government-approved travel categories:

  • Family Visits
  • Official Business for the US Government, Foreign Government, and Certain Intergovernmental Organizations
  • Journalism
  • Professional Research
  • Religious Activities
  • Public Performances
  • Support for the Cuban People 
  • Educational Activities and People to People Travel
  • Humanitarian Projects
  • Activities of Private Foundations for Research or Educational Institutes
  • Exportation, Importation or Transmission of Information or Informational Materials
  • Certain Export Transactions

Click here learn more about the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) latest regulations about American travel to Cuba.

 

What is the difference between “People-to-People” and “Support for the Cuban People”?

The current “People-to-People” license was meant to allow organizations such as Road Scholar to sponsor group programs that engaged in a full time schedule of educational, people-to-people interactions between regular Americans and Cubans. The “Support for the Cuban People” category similarly requires that American visitors must engage in a full-time schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people and that result in meaningful interactions with Cubans. One of the distinctions is that under the “Support for the Cuban People” license, these activities must support civil society in Cuba.

“Support for the Cuban People” has NOT been affected by the June 2019 policy changes, and is how Road Scholar will continue our learning adventures in Cuba. The reality is that our programs were already fulfilling the “Support for the Cuban People” requirements by and large.

Why is Road Scholar able to take groups to Cuba?

We have been taking Americans to Cuba since 1997. We are allowed to do so with permission from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (a division of the United States Treasury Department), because we arrange activities that help support the Cuban people. Thousands of people have learned about Cuba and supported the locals through our learning adventures.

Will I be able to arrange my own airfare to Cuba?

Yes, at this time you may arrange your own airfare, but the regulations require you to engage in a full time schedule of activities that “Support the Cuban People” while you are in Cuba and to be able to provide documentation that you did so. We strongly encourage our participants to book their airfare to Cuba with Road Scholar directly, to ensure compliance with the requirements. All Road Scholar Cuba programs provide options to arrange your air through Road Scholar.

Will I be able to bring back products from Cuba, such as cigars and rum?

The rules around bringing tobacco products and alcohol back to the United States from Cuba allow you to return to the U.S. with these items, as long as they are for personal consumption.

Is there anything else I’ll need before I go?

Yes, a Cuban Tourist Card. This is a requirement of the Cuban government. The easiest way to get a Cuban Tourist card is to purchase one from the airline that is flying you to Cuba. You can inquire with the staff at your gate. It is also possible to purchase one in advance online. However, if your Road Scholar Cuba program begins in Miami, a Cuban Tourist Card will be provided at program orientation. If you have any questions, give us a call and we’d be happy to help you.

Should I be concerned about traveling to Cuba?

No. The change in regulations are imposed by the US government and have nothing to do with the people of Cuba. Road Scholar has been taking Americans to Cuba since 1997 and have provided thousands of participants with enriching experiences over the last 20 years. The local people and culture are truly one-of-a-kind, and Cuba continues to be one of our favorite learning destinations.

Road Scholar offers opportunities to travel legally to Cuba under the new OFAC Regulations published June 5, 2019. Following the General License category “Support of the Cuban People,” Road Scholar programs include activities intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. Each day's program promotes independence for the Cuban people and results in meaningful interactions with the Cuban people.

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