How to Can Americans Travel to Cuba Legally?

It is a common belief that US citizens and Permanent Residents are completely banned from traveling to Cuba, and that American travelers face stiff fines if they are caught. In fact, there are many legitimate and legal ways to visit Cuba. Of the hundreds of Americans who visit Cuba each year, most travel with permissions from the US and Cuban governments. If you've ever wanted to visit the 'forbidden' Caribbean island, the guide below will show you how to travel to Cuba legally.

First, visit the website of the US Dept. of State, click on the international travel tab, and read the information on Cuba. In order to travel to Cuba legally, you need to obtain a special license from the US Treasury. Why is the license is issued by the Treasury rather than by the State Department? Because the restrictions on travel to Cuban are part of a trade embargo. When you travel, naturally you have to spend money.

When you read through the information, you will notice that travel licenses are issued mainly for journalistic, educational, or family reasons. Determine which of these categories and subcategories you may fit into. Pure tourism is not considered a valid reason for traveling to Cuba.

Before you apply for permission to travel to Cuba, gather evidence to show that you have a valid reason for traveling. For example, if you are visiting a family member, you need to prove a relationship to that person, and prove that the person is in Cuba. If you are writing a story on Cuba, you need a sizeable body of work and press clippings to show that you are an experienced journalist; you also need to prove a relationship to a news organization. A mere press pass is not enough.

Submit your application to the address given on the State Department's/US Treasury's Website. Do this at least one or two months in advance of your scheduled travel date.

When your Cuban travel license is approved by the US, the next step is to obtain a travel visa from the Cuban government. All Americans must obtain these two permissions to enter Cuba: one from the US, and one from Cuba. Schedule a visa appointment with the Cuban Consulate in Washington DC, and bring your passport and US travel license.

After you obtain permissions from both governments, you can schedule your flight. There are many flights available from Miami to Cuba year-round. You can depart from Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, or Colombia if you are visiting other countries in Latin America.

© Had2Know 2010