As of December 17 2014, relations between the USA and Cuba have begun to normalize. It’s assumed that travel restrictions will soon be easing. Updates will come to this page soon!
You might be wondering, “Can Americans visit Cuba?” It’s one of the stranger restrictions when it comes to tourism, and a fairly well-known issue though many people don’t know the details. So if you are an American and thinking of vacations in Cuba, you are a bit out of luck.
It’s actually a bit more complicated than you might think at first glance. According to the U.S State Department, it’s not technically illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba. However, it is illegal to have any transactions whatsoever within Cuba, such as spending any money. But in practice, it’s simply a travel ban.
The ban only effects American citizens, so people from any other nation are free to visit Cuba whenever they wish, provided they are not trying to get to Cuba from America. Yes, even foreign nationals who are in the United States cannot buy a plane ticket to Cuba. Be aware that the restriction also extends to any Americans living outside the United States as well.
As I’m sure you’ve figured, this travel ban isn’t exactly iron-clad and Americans do often take the chance to visit Cuba. The most typical way is to travel to another nearby country first, like Canada or Mexico. American’s can then buy tickets for flights to Cuba with no problem. Immigration officials in Cuba won’t stamp your passport if you are an American, so there is no revealing evidence that you’ve been to the island.
Why the Restrictions?
Without going into the complicated history of American/Cuban relations, I’ll just give a brief explanation why the restriction exists. In the early 1960s, the new socialist government led to tensions with the USA which came to a peak during the Cuban Missile Crisis. To put pressure on Castro to change his policies, the United States established a trade embargo against Cuba.
As part of those trade restrictions, came the ban on travel. The issue has come up several times over the years, but it still remains in place after all these years. The current administration has indicated that changes to this long-standing ban may be forthcoming.
So hopefully, there will come a time in the near future when nobody has to ask “Can Americans visit Cuba”?
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