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It's no secret that the US and Cuba have a long and fraught relationship. In 2016 the USA relaxed many of its restrictions on traveling to Cuba only to impose them again a year or two later. But in 2022 the USA has once again relaxed many of its restrictions - but not to the same degree as in 2016.

Cuba is an amazing Caribbean Island that few Americans get to visit and is a destination many visitors fall in love with. But for American citizens, it is not a simple matter to visit Cuba (it is much similar for Canadians, British, etc.). There are many things one should know about visiting Cuba before booking a flight there.

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Are There Flights To Cuba From The US?

As of May 2022, there are direct flights from the USA to Cuba. There are around a dozen flights a day and this number can be expected to grow in the coming months. The operating airlines include American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and JetBlue.

The flights leave from the Floridan cities of Miami, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale and go to the main Cuban city of Havana.

  • Direct Flights: Yes Between Florida and Havana
  • Online Check-In: Not Available

Online check-ins are not available for Cuba, instead, passengers should go to the airport and allow up to 3 hours for the check-in process.

In the past, flights from the United States were banned and so people wanting to go to Cuba needed to travel through third countries.

Related: 15 Surprising Facts About Traveling To Cuba (Vacationers Should Prepare For)

Can Americans Go To Cuba For Tourism?

No. As of the time of writing (June 2022), the US Embassy in Cuba states that it is still prohibited by the USA to travel to Cuba for tourism. There are, however, 12 categories of travel that Americans are permitted to visit.

  • Permitted Travel: 12 Categories - Not Tourism
  • Tourism: Not Permitted For Americans

"Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. However, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses for 12 categories of travel."

U.S. Embassy In Cuba

The categories include family visits, educational activities, religious activities, public performances, workshops, clinics, athletics and other competitions, exhibitions, humanitarian projects, and some other categories.

If one is in doubt if one is permitted to fly to Cuba as a US citizen, then also check American Airlines' summary of the policy.

"If you don't qualify for one of the 13 permitted reasons, have an OFAC license or identify as a Cuban national returning home, you will not be permitted to travel to Cuba."

American Airlines

Related: 20 Things People Do When They Travel To Cuba (The Locals Don't Advise)

Visa Policy Of Cuba

These travel restrictions are imposed by the United States - Cuba itself does not bar the US and other citizens from entry.

Cuba on the other hand is not visa-free (one of the few countries that are not visa-free in the Western Hemisphere for US and other Western passports). Travelers are required to purchase a Visa/Tourist Card prior to arrival - it can be gotten from airlines, travel agencies, Cuban missions, and licensed online retailers.

  • Visa Policy: Tourist Card Required
  • Duration: 30 Days (Extendable)

For those flying from US airports, visitors much purchase a "Pink Tourist Card" while those flying from non-USA airports need a "Green Tourist Card." The tourist card can be purchased from Cuba Visa Services for $85.00 ($50.00 fee + $35.00 processing fee) - this link is for American Airlines passengers only.

The tourist card permits visitors to stay for up to 30 days (or 90 days for Canadians). The tourist card can also be extended while in Cuba.

Everyone traveling to Cuba needs to have health insurance with coverage in the area - some airlines will add a $25 fee to the ticket price to cover it.

A Country Worth Seeing

"Timeworn but magnificent, dilapidated but dignified, fun yet maddeningly frustrating – Cuba is a country of indefinable magic."

Lonely Planet

Hopefully, in the future, there will be no restrictions between the two nations. Then, visitors will be able to go to Cuba and see the many attractions Cuba has on offer. See Cuba's colonial cities and soak in the atmosphere of Havana (as well as Trinidad, Remedios, and Camagüey). In these cities, one can see the old cobbled streets and grandiose squares.

It is a country without massive international brands and has a particular charm of its own. One will not see the major brands that have changed the character of so many other Caribbean Islands.

Cuba's white-sand beaches and offshore islands are a massive draw. They attract holidaymakers from the world over. Beyond the beaches see abandoned coffee plantations, lush mountains, and swamps inhabited by crocodiles.