Travel to Cuba from the US has become more straightforward in recent years, as relations between the two countries have improved significantly. Nevertheless, some confusion still remains regarding current restrictions and requirements. We at Jetex receive inquiries on a regular basis from travelers seeking the most up-to-date information. Here, we will take a look at some of the most common questions encountered by our team on traveling between the US and Cuba.
Can I Fly from the US to a Third Country via Cuba?
Travel to and from a third country via Cuba is acceptable, as per the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This means you can operate from Miami-Opa Locka (US) to José Martí International Airport (Cuba), for example, then on to a third destination in the Caribbean without any issues. Likewise, you may fly from the US to another Caribbean destination, and then travel on to Cuba.
OFAC has published an extensive FAQ on its website, which states that the above is perfectly legal. Please refer to Questions 33 (page 9) & 37 (page 10) in the FAQ document.
Our team has also taken the time to speak directly to an officer at OFAC, who confirmed conducting this type of operation is fine. This applies for both Part 91 (non-commercial) and Part 135 (commercial) operations.
Can I Fly from a Third Country to Cuba, and from Cuba to a Third Country?
A person subject to US jurisdiction engaging in authorized travel-related transactions may travel to Cuba from a third country, or to a third country from Cuba. Such travelers are subject to the same restrictions and requirements as persons traveling directly from the US.
Can Persons Subject to US Jurisdiction Provide Carrier Services to Authorized Travelers Between the US and Cuba via a Third Country?
Persons subject to US jurisdiction are authorized to provide carrier services either directly or indirectly between the US and Cuba. This is provided they hold any additional authorizations required by other US government agencies. For example, an aircraft operator could transport authorized travelers from the United States to Cuba via stops in a third country.
What Are the Approved Purposes of Travel?
The main requirement that still exists when traveling to Cuba from the US is that your reason for traveling must be consistent with one of the 12 Approved Purposes of Travel. These are as follows:
- 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 information materials
- Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines
Any US resident whose trip falls under one of these categories is automatically authorized to visit Cuba.
Do I Need to Exit or Enter the US from a Specific Airport?
This is no longer the case. Exiting and entering the US from Cuba has become a lot easier, as the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have recently dropped the requirement to land at an approved airport. Previously, operators were restricted to a list of 22 approved exit and entry points. Now, you can operate directly or indirectly to Cuba from any CBP-controlled international airport.
Traveling to Cuba from the US has become much easier and more convenient thanks to the thaw in relations which has taken place in recent years. For full details on current regulations and restrictions governing travel to Cuba, please visit the OFAC website. In case you have any specific questions, please feel free to reach out to our expert team, who will be delighted to assist.
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Planning to visit Cuba? Arrange your trip with Jetex!
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About the Author
Duty Manager, International Trip Planning, Jetex Miami Operations Team
In my role as duty manager, I am responsible for overseeing all trip requests for North and South American operators worldwide. I have been working with Jetex since 2010, starting at the global headquarters in Dubai before moving to Miami. Over the past seven years I have progressed from Coordinator, to Supervisor, to Duty Manager. This allowed me to experience international trip planning from all angles, and gain a wealth of experience along the way. During this time I have conducted/overseen thousands of trips all over the globe.