View Full Version : Cuba Trip for American citizen

10-17-2005, 06:37 AM
I wish I could visit Cuba in the near future.

As an American citizen, how complicated will the visa processing be, and what are the steps I must comply with US government? I knew it will not be easy, but I saw some US TreakEarth members having their photos from Cuba posted. That means, there must be one door or another.

Please give me concise advise. Thanks.

Thanh Nguyen

10-22-2005, 03:55 AM
Hola Thanh.

I went to Cuba on an American passport. You don't need a visa. You will have to buy a tourist card from the airline you take to Havana ($25).

I went from Venezuela, it was very easy but I was in South America already. If you go from the US to Mexico, USE YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE to enter Mexico from the US and to enter the US from Mexico... same thing if you go from Canada... but I hear Canada is getting tough with this. When you get to Cuba, immigration WILL NOT stamp your passport, so don't worry... but a little reminder to the guard doesn't hurt.

One thing to keep in mind while you're in Cuba, you CANNOT use any credit card or ATM card, only cash. US Dollars are not good to exchange outside the airport... and if you change too much, don't worry, when you leave Cuba you can exchange it back 1=1, which is what the exchange is (for Pesos Convertibles). If you are on a budget, it is worth it to get about 10usd in "Pesos Nacionales" so you can buy cheap street food... but hardly anything else beyond that.

If you have a more specific question, don't be afraid to ask... I won't turn you in :)


10-22-2005, 03:10 PM

Of course I do have some serious questions about the current embargo. But at first, please tell me how much I could learn from <b><a href="http://www.ibike.org/cuba/ofac/cuba-return.htm ">this advice</a></b>:

If you are under United States jurisdiction (a US passport or green card holder) and travel to Cuba without a license, the sticky point is when you return to the US. Returning to the US by air, you must complete a card where you are required to list the countries you have visited. Prior to the Bush administration, people could admit that they went to Cuba and most breezed through US customs. Some were asked if they have Cuban goods and a verbal “no” was usually sufficient.
Friendly-treatment still happens – some customs agents say nothing. But it is now more likely that you will receive scrutiny. Some officers give a little lecture, others search bags for rum, cigars and other souvenirs to confiscated, sometimes passports are copied and notes taken, and sometime visitor to Cuba are treated like they are on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List". The interrogators can be belligerent and intimidating, you won’t be told that you have any rights, like the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself — as guaranteed by the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These guys have training and practice at this. If you try to exercise your rights be prepared for hostility, threats and retaliation such as long baggage searches. You may feel like you are returning to a heavy-handed, non-democratic country. But despite all the theatre, you won’t be denied re-entry, you won’t be arrest and the harassment doesn't mean you will have to pay a penny of fine!
When you enter the U.S. you will have to fill out a white card asking a few questions about where you went and the value of goods you are bringing back. Legally, to avoid perjuring yourself, it’s best to list that you visited Cuba and all the other country you transited through, and to be able to say the value of items you are returning from Cuba with is zero dollars. If asked about a license, your best position is to explain how you qualify for a “General license” or to the extent you can emphasis that you participated in an “educational people-to-people program”. If asked for information beyond the details covered on the custom’s form you should try to refuse to give self-incriminating information and say “I have been advised by counsel to not answer any further questions.” The customs agents may tell you to fill out an OFAC form that asks for the details of your trip and expenditures. Legally there is probably a limit to how much US government can compel you to tell them about how much you spent for any portion of your trip, who you met, who you travel with, who you did business with, etc. If you intend to refuse to answer their questions and fill out the forms, expect to be searched by a cross customs agent. You are advised to not carrying any paperwork, receipts or goods that identify or indicate any expenditure in Cuba. Without a license, any goods of Cuban origins, regardless of where they were bought, are subject to seizure and can be used as evidence that you had transactions with Cubans. The interrogation and search may be the last you hear from the government. Or several months later the ugly beast might rear its head again.
People under U.S. jurisdiction sometimes take advantage of the fact that they can travel to and from Mexico using a government issued photo ID and proof of citizenship. They still need a passport to enter and leave Cuba. Returning to Mexico, they bury their passport and any evidence that they visited Cuba. When they re-enter the U.S. they use a photo ID (i.e. driver's license) and proof of citizenship (i.e. birth certificate, naturalization papers, green card).


I hope to receive your personal words in order for me to not fall into legal issues after returning.



10-22-2005, 05:46 PM
Don't be so worried. Just be smart, don't bring souvenirs back, no matter how tempting (but cuba is is not cheap anyways). I re-entered the US from Costa Rica, which is not a commom place and my re-entry city in the US is not a big place to watch for this kind of thing. I had to use my passport to reenter the US, I just wrote the country I was directly coming from. If they asked something, it is easy to explain the mistake. But they never look at my passport, it is never a problem.

Just be smart about it, if you can, buy your ticket in Mexico with cash... no paper trail. You certainly don't want "Air Cubana" showing up on your credit card statement.

11-06-2005, 05:43 AM
Many americans also come to Canada in order to fly to Cuba.
so just in case you are living more towards the north .. you can also consider taking your flights from Canada
cheers .... sarju

11-26-2005, 06:09 PM
You are only able to enter Cuba from a third country, Canada is the cheapest and has the best connections by charter flights. Connections via Mexico are not that good and are due to transit etc longer.

Official currency is now CUC ( Cuban Convertables) which is about 1 USD = 0.75 CUC. On credit card payments a surcharge of 11.24% is compulsary. So whatever you do "someone" is making big cash on you. Your American CC is not accepted!

The prices remained in USD but you have to pay in CUC's, which means this "someone" is making 25% more cash than the years before.

Smart he is this "someone"

11-16-2006, 04:06 PM
Go have a look here

<a href=http://www.usacubatravel.com/>USA Cuba travel

I also am thinking about going to Cuba (or maybe Tunisia) this spring, no problem from Montreal to go there, the only problem is that I can't find anyone to come with me.

01-14-2007, 04:04 PM
this is all exellent info!! i am consedering goign to cuba too but do not want to break any laws. i just found out that there is NO LAW in the usa that says you cannot GO to cuba but there is a law that says you cannot spend $$ in cuba and buy cuban products.
one more thing, i dont think you can go to mexico/canada with your id or driver lic, i beleive there was a new law last year about this. thanks to KING george.
my question is how much money does it cost to spend 1 week in cuba if you are on a budget?

01-14-2007, 04:33 PM
The last I've heard about travelling between USA and Canada, is that you will be able to cross the border by car with only ID or birth certificate, at least for some time, but if you come by plane you will need a passport. Anyway, to go to Cuba you will need this passport. In fact the problem is not to come to Canada with or without a passport, the problem is if you want to get back to USA you will need the passport to prove that you are an American citizen.

01-15-2007, 04:41 AM
by the way does anybody know how to explain to the US coutums official when you return to the US and they see that you have DOUBLE stamps from mexico on re entry to mexico from cuba? is there a way around that?

01-23-2007, 01:38 PM
I'm an Australian citizen, so when I went to Cuba last year I didn't have the entry issues that US citizens have - however, we were quite scrutinised when we went through US customs from Mexico, despite not having our passports stamped.

As far as cost, be warned that accomodation in Cuba is more expensive than we expected. I don't remember the rates, but we were surprised. Food & drink is cheap and good!

It's a photographers paradise, there's photos around every corner. Enjoy!

I have one tip for Havana Vieja - go and find the band called Cafe Express - most likely found on Calle Obispo, and often in a cafe on the right hand side heading toward the water. It's on a corner, you can't miss it.

Also - don't bypass the Tropicana show - it's worth every single cent of the ticket. [see here: http://www.habanasol.com/tours/tropicana.htm]


04-28-2007, 06:36 PM
Just return from Cuba and spoke to some Americans who being there for a 2 week trip.
The came from Sacramento, flew to Dallas, to Cancun and below radar (as they say it very funny) to Havana. They did this alsmost every year, no problem they said.
You can use your credit card but they charce you everwhere an extra 11% costs. Better is to bring your dollars and chance at the airport. They don't stamp your passport, just the Visa.



04-28-2007, 09:30 PM
they wont stamp your passport in cube but they will stamp your passport upon returning from cuba to mexico and the american coustums will ask why you have double stamps, although i havent tried this yet but thanks for the info

05-17-2007, 04:37 PM
hey Thanh!

getting ready for another tour, lucky you ;)

i will second don_narayan's advice -- use an intermediary like mexico and you should be fine. I have met several people that did it from canada without problem in the past - but yes, unfortunately the events of 2001 have caught up with us to such a degree that immigration/customs canada has simply become so terribly austere when dealing with anyone whom might possess the audacity to approach our borders, that i cannot recommend it.

take care,

05-17-2007, 04:47 PM
hey again thanh,

you know it funny -- i just looked at the time stamps of this thread and realized you started this one in 2005 -- so someone mistakenly brought this one back and many of us are falling prey to the point of msg'ing .......

anyway, guess you dont need the info now eh, hehe.

still in korea, nothing new happening here.......