1) When will Cuba open?
- This is the golden question. We expect Cuba to open soon. The U.S Department of Transportation has recently approved direct travel from the U.S to Cuba. The current proposal selected eight U.S. airlines to begin scheduled flights between Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa and Havana in the Fall of 2016.
2) Does this mean I can travel to Cuba?
- Yes and No. While the new arrangement reflects a major step forward, there are still several guidelines in place the enable American citizens to travel freely to and from Cuba. For example, travel for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. There are currently 12 categories set forth by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that makes it legal for Americans to travel to Cuba. These categories are: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions.
For more information and in-depth explanation of the 12 categories, please visit the OFAC website.
3) Is it safe to travel to Cuba?
- Cuba is a very safe country in many ways. One of the biggest misconceptions by Americans is that Cuba is perceived to be dangerous. Don't believe everything you see in the movies. In fact, Cuba was rated one of the safest countries to travel to in the western hemisphere. Violent crime is nearly unheard of. Cuba is well policed, with road safety enforced as well or better than many of the home countries of visitors. With that being said, you should still take all necessary precautions as you would traveling to any foreign country.
4) Am I allowed to bring Cuban cigars and/or Cuban rum back into the U.S?
- Under the current regulations, you are allowed to bring back up to $100 in Cuban cigars/rum, for personal use.
5) What currency is used in Cuba?
- The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the currency of Cuba. The exchange rate reflects 1 to 1 between the CUC and U.S. Dollar (USD); however, there is a 10% fee to exchange USD into CUCs.
6) Can I use a credit card or traveler's check?
- Not at this time. The hope is that financial institutions will be able to offer this convenience but for now cash is your only means of purchase. You can leave the American Express at home for once.