Changes to USA policy on Cuba

19 Jun 2017

In 2014 President Obama re-established diplomatic ties with Cuba and as a result (among other things), it opened up a greater opportunity for US citizens to travel to the country. Late last week, President Trump announced his intention to roll back parts of the Obama policy and this will have an effect on people travelling to Cuba on US passports, or via the direct services on US carriers.

Although Trump has announced a limitation on US business relations with Cuba, exceptions will be made for air and sea travel meaning that it is likely that the US airlines and cruise lines will continue to operate services in and out of the country.

The current travel conditions for US passport holders will be subject to a Treasury Department audit and although there will still be criteria that will allow them to travel to the USA, there will be some additional restrictions. The biggest change in travel policy will be that Americans making educational people-to-people trips, (one of the most popular authorised categories) will no longer be able to go to the island on their own but only on group tours. The aim is to close off a path for Americans seeking beach holidays in a country where US tourism is still officially banned.

Please note again that any changes will apply only to US passport holders and people who travel to Cuba via one of the direct services operated by an American carrier.

When will all this take effect?

The US Treasury and Commerce departments have 30 days to begin writing the new regulations and they will not be implemented until they are fully completed. This could mean that nothing changes for some months.

What does this mean for non-USA passport holders?

People travelling on Australian, New Zealand, UK or any other passport which allows them to enter Cuba as a tourist, will still be able to do so. When the new regulations are implemented, any non American citizen who travels to Cuba via one of the direct services from the USA will be subject to the same regulations and restrictions as US citizens (as they are now).

Campus Travel policy on travel to Cuba has not changed:

  • Customers travelling on passports that allow them to enter Cuba as tourists may do so via non US ports (Canada, Mexico, Central/South America etc).
  • Customers travelling one of these routes can obtain their travel permit (visa) at their last transit / transfer airport before Cuba or on board the aircraft (Air Canada).
  • There is no change to customers travelling to Cuba from the USA via another country on a non-USA carrier.
  • Customers who are travelling to Cuba on one of the (currently) approved 12 criteria only, may travel via the USA on a direct service to/from Cuba. The 12 criteria can be viewed HERE.
  • Customers eligible to travel under these criteria and on this routing can obtain their travel permit (visa) at their US departure airport at check-in.

Will there be any more changes to this policy?

Possibly. Nothing is certain until the regulations are written and implemented. Campus Travel have been advised that all ticketed bookings will be honoured even after the new regulations are put in place. Once this has been finalised Campus Travel will have a clearer picture and will be able to provide you with more information. In the meantime, it is business as usual for our customers travelling to Cuba.