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ESTA and Cuba

All about the US ESTA and CUBA [ESTA After Visiting Cuba]

Many visitors to the USA travel there on the ESTA Visa Waiver program.  However, a change by the US Government on 12 th January 2021 means that if you have visited Cuba since then you may no longer use the ESTA Visa Waiver Scheme.  This article goes through the details of the changes, relevant dates, and what you’ll need to do if you (as an ESTA user) want to visit the United States.  I’ll also cover the most frequently asked questions about the US ESTA and Cuba.  Here’s our guide to the USA ESTA after visiting Cuba.

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There’s a lot of detail in this article, and I’ve answered a lot of questions in it, so it’s best to read it in its entirety and then if you have questions afterward, either send an email or ask in the comments.  It can seem complex at first glance, but the rules are pretty simple now.

Why is the USA ESTA Visa Waiver Scheme relevant to visiting Cuba?

Citizens of 41 countries around the world can use the United States ESTA Visa Waiver scheme to visit the US for business or pleasure.   It involves completing an online form, paying a fee, and (if granted) removing the need to apply (in person) for a US Visa at an embassy or consulate.

However, on 12 th January 2021, The United States Government added Cuba as a country to the list of State Sponsors of Terrorisms.  That meant that visitors to Cuba were no longer able to visit the USA using the ESTA Visa Waiver Scheme.  It does NOT mean that you cannot visit the USA.  It simply means that to visit the USA after a trip to Cuba you’ll need to apply for a regular visa, at an embassy or consulate of the United States.

The enforcement of this policy came in October 2022, and since then if you plan to visit the United States after visiting Cuba, then, even if you have an existing ESTA it will be invalidated. You are not eligible for an ESTA if you’ve been to Cuba.

The ESTA Application was updated on 6 July 2023 to include specific questions about travel to Cuba.  Previously it had simply referenced “the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism”.  The other countries on this list are Iran, North Korea and Syria.

Why the US ESTA cancellation is an issue for long-haul visitors to Cuba

Aside from the issue that you now need a visa to enter the United States, there’s another issue with ESTAs being canceled upon your visit to Cuba.

If you’re visiting Cuba from Europe, Australia, or New Zealand, then it’s highly likely that you may be flying via the United States.   That means you likely want to fly home via the United States.

There’s no “in transit” in the United States

The United States does NOT have the concept of “in transit” for connecting flights.  You must, even if you’re just getting off one plane and getting onto another, go through immigration and “enter” the United States, before then leaving again to get on your next flight. There’s more from the DHS here.

And if you’re relying on an ESTA to get you through this immigration process then you CANNOT.  If you’ve flown into Cuba via the United States, then it’s likely that you’ll be stopped in the USA and told that your ESTA will be canceled if you continue with your onward trip to Cuba and that you will not be allowed to fly back via the United States.

If you want to visit the USA again after Cuba, you’ll need a full visa

If you plan to visit the USA after your trip to Cuba (or indeed if you’ve been there since 12 January 2021), then you will need to go through the full visa application process.  This generally means getting an appointment at your local US Embassy or Consulate and obtaining a full US visitor’s visa (B1/B2), which is both expensive and time-consuming.

Am I trying to put you off visiting Cuba?

I just want to clear up, with this article, a lot of misinformation and ensure that you do not get stuck, or book flights via the USA that you will be unable to take.

Does visiting Cuba mean that I won’t be able to get a visa for the United States?

Not at all.  If you’re ineligible for an ESTA, then the US Department of Homeland Security states that it does NOT mean that you’re ineligible for a regular visa.

Practical Steps to Take on Visiting Cuba

Here are several practical steps to take that can help you with regard to the ESTA after visiting the United States.

Make sure you don’t try and fly home via the United States

You’ll want to start by making sure that your return flight is NOT via anywhere in the United States unless you already have a regular B1 /B2 Visa for the United States.

The Cuban Government, since October 2022, is NOT stamping passports, unless you specifically ask them to, so there will be nothing in your passport to state that you’ve been to Cuba.  However, lying to the American Government – aka making a false declaration to US Immigration Services can have serious consequences for your future travel, and not just to the United States.  It’s just not worth it.

Apply for a US Visitors Visa

If you plan to visit the United States for business or pleasure, or if you’re a regular visitor, then you can apply for a 10-year visa.  You can get a B1 Visa (which is mainly for business) or a B2 Visa which covers you for both business and pleasure.  These are generally valid for 10 years.  The time taken to process these visas will differ depending on your embassy, so you’ll want to allow plenty of time.

Investigate a USA Transit Visa If you Want to Fly Long Haul home via the USA

Thanks to Alan Crocker of Australian Travel Agency PleaseYourselfTravel who contacted us at Cuba’s Best and made us aware of the US Transit Visa. Also known as a “C” visa, it can be used for transiting the USA. Wait times at US embassies tend to be shorter for this type of visa, compared to the B1 or B2 visa.

Now what I don’t know is if this visa can be used to transit the USA after visiting Cuba. I’d recommend that you ask your local US embassy. And let us know what you hear, it could help other long-haul visitors to Cuba.

Keep your fingers crossed for change from the US Government

I’m a big believer in the phrase “Hope is not a strategy”, but perhaps a little hope would help here.  The current US administration recently announced that visa processing will resume in the Havana Embassy “soon”, which is a good sign that there is always hope that Cuba could be removed from the State Sponsored Terrorism list.

Frequently Asked Questions about the US ESTA and Cuba

Here are just some of the most frequently asked questions about traveling to Cuba and the impact it has on ESTAs.

Can I get a different passport and then apply for an ESTA after visiting Cuba?

The question on the ESTA Visa Waiver Form is “Have you traveled to Cuba”? A different passport makes no difference to this answer.  A different passport makes no difference at all to your eligibility for the ESTA Visa Waiver Scheme.

If I fly into Cuba visa the USA and they don’t tell me about this can I fly back?

No.  Without a valid visa for the United States, you will be unable to board a plane out of Cuba going to the United States.  Even if your flight is a transit flight.  There’s no concept of “in transit” in the United States, so you have to go through immigration.

How long does it take to get a B1 or B2 Visa for the United States?

You’ll need to check timeframes with your local embassy as times differ depending on the country, time of year, and staffing.

If I traveled to Cuba before 2021 can I still travel to the USA on an ESTA?

Yes.  The cut-off date is 12 January 2021, if you traveled to Cuba AFTER this date, then you are ineligible for the ESTA Visa Waiver scheme. 

If I’ve already got an ESTA and go to Cuba what happens?

The Department of Homeland Security states “If an ESTA has already been approved and it is later determined that the traveler has been present in Cuba or holds dual nationality with both a VWP country and Cuba, the ESTA will be revoked. Ineligibility for an ESTA is not a bar to travel to the United States.”

Does Cuba Stamp Passports?

No.  Cuba does not stamp passports, it’s the Cuban Tourist Card ( which I wrote about here ) that’s stamped.  However, a passport stamp, whether it’s there or not, is irrelevant to the situation with an ESTA.

ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR EXPLORING CUBA INDEPENDENTLY

These are the resources and booking sites that we use when traveling to Cuba.

Get a Cuba Travel and Medical Insurance Quote from Visitors Coverage here – Alternatively, Civitatis Insurance is a great option for the required insurance for Cuba. You will need a Cuba Tourist Card to enter Cuba – some airlines include these, if yours doesn’t, buy one from EasyTouristCard – now valid for 90 days. Book your Viazul Bus tickets here Pre-book and prepay shared & private shuttles here Book the best FREE Walking Tours in Cuba Reserve attractions, day trips, and activities in Cuba here Get online in Cuba EASILY with a Cuba eSIM – read about Cuba ESIMS here , or buy a Cuba eSIM here .

Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Cuba > discount coupon here Book Accommodation in Cuba’s Casa Particular here

Final Words on the USA ESTA after Visiting Cuba

This is a difficult but important article to write.  After all, Cuba’s Best is all about promoting why you should come to the country!  However, the elephant in the room must be addressed, and it’s only fair that you have all the information before traveling to Cuba.  If you plan ahead, understand the rules, and manage your travel with them in mind, this is a minor inconvenience, but one you must be aware of.  I am in no way suggesting that you do not visit Cuba, but simply that you are aware of the situation and are therefore able to plan around it. 

Cuba’s Best is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates .

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2 thoughts on “ All about the US ESTA and CUBA [ESTA After Visiting Cuba] ”

  • 2 Comments

Avatar for Derek Mortimer

Hi Sarah, thank you for this information. Would it be possible for you please to send me the Viazul timetable for February, 2024? Thank you in advance

Avatar for Sarah Carter

Hi Derek, I’ll send it to you now, but be aware its all changing. Prices are going up as of March 1 and there’s no online availability for March onwards at this time. Sarah p.s. I’ll send updates once the new timetable is out too.

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  • FAQs About The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and Electronic System For Travel Authorization (ESTA)

Frequently Asked Questions about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

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For more information and a larger selection of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit the ESTA website .

General Information on the Visa Waiver Program

What is the visa waiver program.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is administered by DHS and enables eligible citizens or nationals of designated countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.

What are the passport requirements to travel under the Visa Waiver Program?

Travel under the VWP is restricted to travelers possessing passports with specified security features. Visa Waiver Program requirements are:

  • The passport must have a machine-readable zone on the biographic page.
  • The passport must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.

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General Information on ESTA

What is the electronic system for travel authorization.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTA application, a traveler is notified of his or her eligibility to travel to the United States under the VWP.

Is an ESTA a visa?

No. An approved ESTA is not a visa. It does not meet the legal or regulatory requirements to serve in lieu of a U.S. visa when a visa is required under U.S. law. Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for ESTA.

ESTA and Data Privacy

How does the u.s. government protect the privacy of esta data and who has access to it.

Information submitted by applicants through the ESTA website is subject to the same strict privacy provisions and controls that have been established for similar traveler screening programs. Access to such information is limited to those with a professional need to know. The website is operated by the U.S. government and employs technology to prevent unauthorized access to the information entered and viewed. Information is protected and governed by U.S. laws and regulations, including but not limited to the Federal Information Security Management Act.

Does DHS use application data for any purpose other than determining eligibility for an ESTA?

DHS uses the application data to screen the individual before granting authorization to travel to the United States under the VWP. As part of this screening process, information that identifies suspected or known violators of the law and other persons of concern will be provided to the appropriate law enforcement, national security and/or counterterrorism agency.

Who Needs to Apply for ESTA

Who is required to apply for esta.

All eligible nationals or citizens of VWP countries who plan to travel to the United States for temporary business or pleasure under VWP are required to receive an authorization through ESTA prior to boarding a U.S.-bound airplane or vessel. The term "United States" refers to the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are also required to obtain an independent ESTA approval. A third party, such as a relative or travel agent, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler.

Do nationals or citizens of countries that participate in the VWP require an ESTA if they are only transiting the United States en route to another country?

Yes. Eligible nationals or citizens of countries that participate in the VWP require either an ESTA or a visa to transit the United States. If a traveler is only planning to transit through the United States en route to another country, when he or she completes the ESTA application, the traveler should enter the words "In Transit" and his or her final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States.”

ESTA Implementation Timeline

When can a traveler apply for travel authorization via esta.

At anytime, but preferably as soon as a VWP traveler begins to plan a trip to visit the United States. Travelers may file ESTA applications through the ESTA website.

What happens if a VWP participant travels to the United States after ESTA is mandatory, but somehow does not have an ESTA?

VWP travelers who have not received an ESTA approval may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission at a U.S. port of entry.

Do VWP travelers arriving in the United States from a non-VWP country need an ESTA?

All VWP travelers arriving by U.S.-bound airplane or vessel, regardless of their country of origination or port of embarkation, require an approved ESTA.

How to Apply for an ESTA

Can a vwp traveler with more than one passport travel to the united states on the passport that was not used when applying for an esta.

No. Each VWP traveler must have an approved ESTA for the passport he or she plans to use for travel to the United States. If travelers acquire a new passport, they must submit a new ESTA application for their new passport.

I have seen other websites that are assisting travelers in applying for their ESTA application. Is there a benefit to using one of these other sites?

No. Use of a private service to apply for travel authorization via ESTA will not expedite approval. Third party websites that provide information about ESTA submit ESTA applications for VWP travelers are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with DHS or the U.S. government.

What information is needed in order to complete the ESTA application?

The traveler must provide, in English, biographical data including name, birth date and passport information. The traveler also must answer VWP eligibility questions regarding communicable diseases, arrests and convictions for certain crimes, past history of visa revocation or deportation and other questions. The traveler will also need their credit card information to pay the associated fees in order to complete the ESTA application.

Do VWP travelers need to bring a paper printout of their ESTA approval to the airport?

No. DHS communicates a traveler’s ESTA status to the carriers. However, DHS recommends that travelers print out the ESTA application response as a record of their ESTA application number to confirm their ESTA status.

Updating Your ESTA

Does a traveler ever need to reapply for travel authorization through esta.

Yes, a new travel authorization via ESTA is required when: (1) the traveler is issued a new passport; (2) the traveler changes his or her name; (3) the traveler changes his or her gender; (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes; or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed.

ESTA approvals are typically granted for a two–year period or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever is sooner. ESTA provides validity dates upon approval of the application. Therefore, a traveler must apply for a new ESTA when the prior ESTA approval or passport expires. The associated fee will be charged for each new application submitted.

What should a traveler do if the information in his or her passport has changed?

If a traveler’s passport information changes, the individual is required to apply for a new travel authorization through ESTA. A new travel authorization is required if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport; (2) the traveler changes his or her name; (3) the traveler changes his or her gender; (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes; or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed. The associated fee will be charged for each new application submitted.

How can I see the data I entered? Can I print out the information I entered?

The ESTA website will prompt applicants to review the data submitted for the overall application prior to submission. The applicant will be able to print out the entire application and their ESTA status upon completion of the application. Once the browser is closed, the applicant will only be able to print out their ESTA status by retrieving their application. It will not be possible to print the entire application once the browser is closed. DHS recommends that travelers print out the ESTA application response to record their ESTA application number and to confirm their ESTA status.

ESTA Denials

What should a traveler do if he or she is not approved for travel through esta.

If an ESTA application is denied and the traveler wishes to continue with the trip, the traveler will be required to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Visit the  State Department  website for more about visa application procedures.

How can a traveler find out the reason an ESTA application was denied?

DHS has carefully developed the ESTA program to ensure that only those individuals who are ineligible to travel to the United States under the VWP or those whose travel would pose a law enforcement or security risk are refused an ESTA. While the ESTA website provides a link to the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) website, there are no guarantees that a request for redress through DHS TRIP will resolve the VWP ineligibility that caused an applicant’s ESTA application to be denied.

U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not able to provide details about ESTA denials or resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial. Embassies and Consulates will process an application for a non-immigrant visa, which, if approved, will be the only way that a traveler whose ESTA application has been denied would be authorized to travel to the U.S.

Do I need to apply for ESTA if...?

I am a citizen (adult or minor) of a vwp country visiting the u.s., if i have a current, valid visa.

Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA authorization.

esta travel cuba

Can I make an ESTA application if I’ve been to Cuba?

There’s a lot of confusion regarding esta applications if the person has been to cuba. recently, the us government changed the rules once more..

The USA is a popular destination for Brits travelling abroad, whether it be for holidays or business trips. Recently, the country announced changes with regard to ESTA eligibility for people who have been to Cuba. Can you still apply for an ESTA if you’ve been to Cuba?

ESTA eligibility Under normal circumstances, travellers with UK nationality or the nationality of any country in the EU are eligible to submit an ESTA application . Many people believe that being eligible for one automatically means you will actually receive one as well, but the final decision on approval is always made by the US Customs and Border Protection agency. While most applications are approved in a matter of hours, depending on your personal circumstances (criminal record, country of birth, dual nationality, etc.), an application may end up being denied. Should an ESTA be approved, it functions almost exactly like a tourist visa, allowing you to travel to the USA within a period of two years. Since an ESTA allows you to stay in the USA for up to 90 days per visit, most people use it for holidays

The major benefit of an ESTA is that it’s much cheaper than a tourist visa and does not require a visit to the embassy. ESTA applications are completed online and approval is sent by e-mail.

What’s the deal with Cuba? The relationship between the USA and Cuba has been strained for a long time. The USA employs strict trade embargos against Cuba and is extra strict when processing visa applications from Cuban nationals. Unsurprisingly, Cuban nationals are not eligible for ESTA applications. Former US president Trump added Cuba to the USA’s list of states that sponsor terrorism. This list also includes Iran, North Korea and Syria. People who have been to any of these countries after 10 March 2011 are unable to submit an online ESTA application. They must instead apply for a visa at the embassy. By adding Cuba to this list, thousands of Brits suddenly found themselves ineligible for an ESTA.

ESTA still valid after travel to Cuba Recently, the US Customs and Border Protection agency revealed that they have eased the ESTA requirements with regard to Cuba specifically. Rather than blocking applications from people who have been to Cuba since 10 March 2011, now only visits after January 2021 disqualify a person from acquiring an ESTA. This means that any trips to Cuba made before this date (January 2021) have no bearing on your ESTA application. Easing the ban allows a large group of people to still travel to the USA via the cheaper ESTA option.

Other ESTA requirements to keep in mind With all the focus on Cuba, it can be easy to forget that an ESTA application comes with a strict list of other requirements you have to meet. For example, you cannot have committed a crime that led to serious injury to another person, or have ever broken any law regarding usage or distribution of drugs. Additionally, ESTA applications can only be submitted with passports that have a digital chip, and the passport must remain valid for the entire stay in the USA. Finally, an ESTA can only be used for holidays or business trips. It can’t be used to work or study in the USA, as you require specific work or study visas for that.

Should an ESTA application be denied, it’s not recommended submitting a new one, as that one will likely be denied as well. It can be difficult to find out the exact reason for the rejection, as US Customs never gives the reason due to national security. The only alternative to still travel to the USA is getting an embassy visa, which generally costs around £160 and requires multiple visits to the embassy.

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Travel Advisory January 5, 2024

Cuba - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Reissued with updates to crime information.

Exercise increased caution in Cuba due to  crime .

Country Summary:  Petty crime is a threat for tourists in Cuba. Also, violent crime, including armed robbery and homicide, sometimes occurs in Cuba.

Travel outside of the Havana area for U.S. Embassy employees requires a special notification process which may affect the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in Cuba.

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to Cuba.

If you decide to travel to Cuba:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

U.S. citizens should always exercise caution when traveling abroad:

  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter .
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for Cuba.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .

Embassy Messages

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Quick Facts

Must have six months validity at the time of entry.

Two pages are required for entry/exit stamps.

Yes. Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. See 31 C.F.R 515.560 and OFAC's Frequently Asked Questions .

None. See CDC for recommendations.

U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. You should bring U.S. dollars or Euros to Cuba and exchange them for Cuban Pesos (CUP) at authorized banks, CADECA offices, airports or hotels. Travelers should confirm alternative payment options before traveling, as policies concerning the use of U.S. dollars in Cuba are subject to change. The Cuban government requires that travelers declare cash amounts over the equivalent of 5,000 USD.

When departing Cuba, we advise U.S. travelers to spend or exchange CUP to a foreign currency well before reaching airport security checkpoints. Currency exchange houses in the departure area at airports are currently closed and Cuban pesos are not internationally convertible outside of Cuba.. International airlines flying to the United States include departure fees and taxes in the price of airline tickets. U.S. dollars are not accepted for payment of any additional products purchased at the airport. Under Cuban law, travelers may export up to the equivalent of 5,000 USD out of the country. Anyone wishing to depart Cuba with more than this amount of cash must demonstrate evidence that the currency was acquired legitimately from a Cuban bank.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado, Havana, Cuba Telephone:  + (53) (7) 839-4100 (Monday- Friday 0830-1630, except holidays) Emergency after-hours telephone:  + (53) (7) 839-4100 and dial 1 to speak with the emergency operator Fax:  + (53) (7) 839-4247 Website:  https:cu.usembassy.gov

Email:   [email protected] (for concerns with U.S. citizens)

Destination Description

Learn about the U.S. relationship to countries around the world.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Travel to Cuba from or transiting through the United States by persons under U.S. jurisdiction (defined as [BE1] U.S. citizens located anywhere, and anyone located in the United States regardless of citizenship and nationality) , is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  All travelers falling under U.S. jurisdiction must comply with these regulations.  Individuals seeking to travel to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered under the 12 travel categories authorized by a general OFAC license.  If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license .  Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution.  For travel-specific questions, please see  31 C.F.R. 515.560  and  OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions .

Visit the  Embassy of Cuba  website for the most current visa information.

Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which is usually included in airline ticket prices on flights originating in the United States. If you do not have insurance, it can be purchased upon arrival to Cuba at an airport kiosk.  Asistur Medical Insurance is the official company that airlines contract.  Please confirm your coverage with your airline prior to arrival in Cuba and seek additional medical insurance if needed.

Cuba does not recognize the U.S. citizenship of Cuban-born U.S. citizens who maintain residency status in Cuba.  The Cuban government requires Cuban dual nationals to enter and depart Cuba using Cuban passports. Cuban-born U.S. citizens who maintain their residency status in Cuba will be treated as Cuban citizens and may be subject to Cuban restrictions and legal obligations.  

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Cuba.  Foreign students on scholarships are required to test for HIV/AIDS.  Please verify this information with the  Embassy of Cuba  before you travel.

Information about  dual nationality , the  prevention of international child abduction , and  customs regulations  can be found on our websites. 

Cuban Requirements for Authorized Travelers:   Attempts to enter or exit Cuba illegally, or to aid the irregular exit of Cuban nationals or other persons, are prohibited.  Entering Cuban territory, territorial waters, or airspace without prior authorization from the Cuban government may result in arrest.  Immigration violators are subject to prison terms ranging from four to thirty years. 

Temporary Sojourn License:  Most aircraft and maritime vessels on temporary sojourn to Cuba are no longer eligible for an Aircraft, Vessels, and Spacecraft (AVS) License Exception.  See 15 C.F.R. § 740.15.  If you are planning to enter Cuba with a U.S. or foreign-registered aircraft or maritime vessel on temporary sojourn, you must meet the criteria set forth in 15 C.F.R. § 740.15. Please see the U.S. Department of Commerce’s  Bureau of Industry and Security website  for additional information. 

In addition, a vessel of the United States, as defined in 33 C.F.R. §107.200, may not enter Cuban territorial waters without advance permission from the U.S. Coast Guard.  The U.S. Coast Guard provides permission information at (305) 415-6920. 

Safety and Security

The security environment in Cuba is relatively stable and characterized by a strong military and police presence.  Demonstrations are infrequent but can draw violent responses from government forces.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational without warning.  Avoid demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Demonstration Alerts are posted on the  Embassy’s website .  Review the  Cuba Travel Advisory .

The Cuban government has detained U.S. citizens suspected of engaging in activities perceived to undermine state security.  The Cuban government may detain individuals for activities that would not be considered criminal or offensive in the United States.

Crime:   With the recent influx of travelers, there has been an increase in the number of property crimes. Crimes of opportunity, such as pick pocketing, purse snatchings, and car break-ins, are on the rise. Exercise vigilance everywhere . Do not display large amounts of cash.  Do not leave your valuables unattended.  Carry money in your front pockets, hold your purse and cellular phone securely and be mindful of purses or bags when dining out. 

  • Do not leave a beverage unattended or accept beverages from persons unknown to you. 
  • Locations such as Habana Vieja, Playas del Este, Varadero, and other attractions tend to have a higher incidence of property crime than other parts of Cuba. 
  • Be wary of misdirection schemes where someone attempts to gain your attention while another comes from behind to steal your purse, wallet, or other valuable items. 
  • If confronted by criminals, do not resist, try to remain calm, clearly display your hands and do not make any sudden moves that could be interpreted as resistance. 
  • Carry a cell phone with Cuban cellular service for emergency communications and travel in groups if possible. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night or when traveling in an unfamiliar area. 
  • While in your car, place valuables out of sight or in a locked trunk.  When unattended, avoid leaving items in the car, especially on the seat or in plain view.
  • Only use marked taxis. 
  • Carry a copy of your passport and secure the original. 
  • Beware of scam artists, who may speak English and appear friendly. 
  • When exchanging currency, use the state-run offices known as CADECAs or official banks.

International Financial Scams:  See the  Department of State  and the  FBI  pages for information. 

Victims of Crime:   We strongly urge U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.  Report crimes to the local police by dialing 106 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +53 7839-4100.  Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. 

See our webpage on  help for U.S. victims of crime overseas . 

We can: 

  • help you find medical care 
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police 
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent 
  • provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion 
  • provide a list of local attorneys 
  • provide information on  victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution 
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home 
  • replace a stolen or lost passport 

Domestic Violence:   U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are strongly encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism:   The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur.  Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field.  In the event of an injury, even basic medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities.  First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment.  U.S. citizens should maintain health insurance in Cuba.  If stays exceed 30 days, [CM1] U.S. citizens should purchase medical insurance when they process their visa extensions. 

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on  crimes against minors abroad  and the  Department of Justice  website.

Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.  See our  webpage  for further information.

Cuban penalties for the following are particularly severe: 

  • Possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs. 
  • Suspicion of assisting Cubans to leave the country illegally. 
  • Drivers involved in accidents that result in injury or death, regardless of fault. 
  • Importing weapons or ammunition. 
  • Photographing military or police installations or personnel, or harbor, rail, or airport facilities. 
  • Crimes against minors.

The Government of Cuba does not recognize the U.S. citizenship of Cuban-born U.S. citizens who maintain residency in Cuba and may not allow U.S. consular access to Cuban-American prisoners. 

Telecommunications:  Many U.S. mobile service carriers provide roaming services in Cuba.  Your U.S. mobile phone will work in Cuba if your mobile phone is capable of roaming in Cuba and your mobile service provider has an international roaming agreement with ETECSA, Cuba's state-owned telecommunications provider.  Currently AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile have roaming agreements with ETECSA. Wi-Fi is often slow and unreliable. Be sure to confirm your carrier’s coverage before traveling.

SIM cards with a data plan can be purchased at Havana-José Martí International Airport (HAV) and local ETESCA telecommunications offices. To ensure family and friends can reach you in Cuba, check with your mobile provider about roaming options and cost or purchase a Cuban SIM card. See the  FCC Travel FAQs  for more information. 

Cuba-related Travel Transactions:  Only persons whose travel falls into the 12 OFAC approved travel categories or who have received a specific license from OFAC are authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to travel to, from, or within Cuba.  Direct financial transactions with certain entities and sub-entities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services are also generally prohibited. For more information see the Department of State’s ﷟ Cuba Restricted List .  Additionally, lodging, paying for lodging, or making reservations on behalf of others to lodge, at certain accommodations in Cuba are prohibited; for a full list of such accommodations, see the Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List .   For more information about licenses, visit OFAC’s  Cuba Sanctions website .   Additionally, lodging, paying for lodging, or making reservations on behalf of others to lodge, at certain accommodations in Cuba are prohibited; for a full list of such accommodations, see the Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List .   For more information about licenses, visit OFAC’s  Cuba Sanctions website . 

Licenses for Remittances:   In June 2022, OFAC published updated Cuba-related regulations .  The new regulations eliminated a cap on remittances to family members in Cuba, and authorized remittances to non-family recipients as well.  Certain Prohibited Officials of the Government of Cuba , Prohibited Members of the Cuban Communist Party , and the close relatives of these two groups, are not eligible to receive remittances.  For information on remittance authorizations, see OFAC’s  Cuba Sanctions website .

What May Be Brought Back From Cuba:  Importation of Cuban merchandise for commercial purposes is restricted, with very limited exceptions.  Certain imports of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs are authorized, as set forth on the Department of State’s  Section 515.582 List  (see 31 C.F.R 515.582).  There are no limits on the import or export of informational materials.  For more information related to imports, including merchandise entering the United States for personal use as accompanied baggage, please see the  CBP Public Notice .

Cuban law requires foreigners to obtain authorization to remove souvenir paintings and sculptures out of Cuba. Most authorized points of sale, such as galleries and art studios, should be familiar with this process and should provide the proper documentation at the time of purchase.  You can also apply for an export permit via the Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets. Travelers without a valid export permit may have their items confiscated at the port of departure. The U.S. Embassy cannot assist in these cases.  For more information, please contact the embassy of Cuba . 

Travelers may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption in Cuba, but may not enter the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba. Persons subject to United States jurisdiction may purchase or acquire Cuban-origin merchandise for personal consumption, including alcohol and tobacco products, while in a third country, but may not import such products into the United States.  For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, see  31 CFR § 515.585(c) and (d).

Storm Season:  Tropical storms and hurricanes between May and November can produce heavy winds and rain. See our  page on disaster and crisis preparedness for more information.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See the following webpages for details:

  • Faith-Based Travel Information
  • International Religious Freedom Report  – see country reports
  • Human Rights Report  – see country reports
  • Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad

LGBTI Travelers:  There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Cuba, and on September 26, 2022 Cubans passed the referendum legalizing same sex marriage.

See   our  LGBTI Travel Information   page and section 6 of our  Human Rights report  for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance .  Individuals with mobility issues are likely to find accessibility difficult .   Few facilities or services are available, and information is limited. Most roads and sidewalks are poorly maintained.

Students:   See our  Students Abroad  page and  FBI travel tips .

Women Travelers:   See our travel tips for  Women Travelers .

Currency Restrictions:  Be advised that policies concerning the use and convertibility of U.S. dollars in Cuba are subject to change.  Obtaining U.S. dollar cash is nearly impossible through official channels.  The Cuban Central Bank prohibits certain U.S. dollar cash transactions, including conversion of U.S. dollars to Cuban pesos, the use of U.S. dollars for cash payments, including in government-run establishments such as hotels and restaurants, and the purchase of pre-paid debit cards.. U.S.-issued credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba.  Travelers should bring sufficient cash for the duration of their trip, and consider bringing multiple currencies, such as Euros.

For emergency services in Cuba, dial: 

  • 104 for an ambulance or contact the nearest  hospital  directly
  • 105 for fire 
  • 106 for police 

Ambulance services are

  • not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas
  • not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment
  • not staffed with trained paramedics and often have little or no medical equipment

Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

We do not pay medical bills.   Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas.  Hospitals and doctors in Cuba do not accept U.S. health insurance.  Most hospitals require payment up front before services are rendered.

Medical Insurance:   Ensure your airline ticket includes health insurance.  Cuba requires all U.S. airlines departing the United States to pay for health insurance for each passenger.  The health insurance from airlines is valid for 30 days upon your arrival in Cuba.  If you are planning to stay in Cuba for more than 30 days, you will need to extend your coverage before you can extend your visa.   It is important to keep a record of your arrival into Cuba, such as your airline ticket, so that the Asistur agency can coordinate with the hospital on payment MEDEVAC flights from Cuba are difficult to arrange, with costs starting at $15,000 U.S. dollars.  Visit the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Ensure you have all medicine you require for your time in Cuba.  Medicine (prescription and over the counter) is not readily available in Cuba.  Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.  Check with the embassy of Cuba to ensure the medication is legal in Cuba.  Note: This site is in Spanish only.

Diarrheal illness is common among travelers, even in luxury accommodations.  Travelers should wash their hands, drink bottled water, and avoid street and undercooked food.

The following diseases are prevalent: 

  • Dengue Fever 
  • Hepatitis-A 
  • Traveler’s diarrhea 
  • Chikungunya 
  • Typhoid 
  • Rabies 
  • Zika Virus 

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific medical issues in  Cuba . 

Vaccinations:  Be up to date on all  vaccinations  recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

  • World Health Organization
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC)

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals  here .  We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Pharmaceuticals:  Even the most common over the counter medications are unavailable in Cuba. Other medication, medical equipment or supplies are also unavailable on the island.  If you are able to find medicine, exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Counterfeit medication may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients.  Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States.  Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States.  Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States.  Please visit the  U.S. Customs and Border Protection  and the  Food and Drug Administration  websites for more information.

Water Quality:  Tap water is not potable.  Bottled water is often unavailable for purchase and you should be aware that some restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.

General Health Issues

  • There are severe shortages of food, potable water, medicine, medical supplies, etc.  throughout Cuba.
  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about  Resources for Travelers  regarding specific issues in Cuba.

Air Quality:  Air pollution is a problem in several major cities in Cuba. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary. Visit  AirNow Department of State  for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:  Road accidents, many involving pedestrians and bicyclists, are Cuba’s leading cause of death.  Cuban authorities may prohibit drivers from leaving the country until claims associated with an accident are settled.  Drivers found responsible for accidents resulting in serious injury or death may receive long prison sentences.  U.S. citizen drivers are often found at fault for accidents they are involved in. 

Drive with extreme care.  Major streets are generally well-maintained, but secondary streets are not.  Major potholes and obstacles are common on all roads.  After heavy rains in 2022, several bridges collapsed.  Damaged bridges may not be well marked.  

Outside of major cities, avoid driving at night as many roads are unlit. Emergency lights or signals are rare, making it virtually impossible to detect hazards after dark.  Street signage is insufficient and confusing. Many Cuban cars are old, in poor condition, and lack reliable safety equipment.  Heed caution throughout the country as there are rolling blackouts which may leave streets dark and without traffic lights, even in major cities.

The principal Cuban east-west highway is in good condition but extends only part of the way from Havana to the eastern end of the island.  Hazards – including unfenced livestock and farm vehicles – are common. 

When traveling by road, you should carry a printed map of the area, as electronic (smartphone) maps frequently fail due to connectivity issues.

Traffic Laws:   Speed limits are sometimes posted and passengers in automobiles are required to wear seatbelts, if available.  All motorcyclists are required to wear helmets.  Traffic from major roads generally does not stop when entering roundabouts.  Use care at intersections: stop signs are often hard to see. 

Public Transportation: 

Buses designated for tourist travel, both between and within cities, generally meet international standards.  

The public bus and rail system in Cuba is under-resourced and in poor condition.  Public buses used by Cubans, known as "guaguas," are crowded, unreliable, and are sometimes preyed upon by petty criminals. There is a heightened threat of pickpocketing on crowded buses and trains. Embassy personnel are advised not to use public transportation.

Avoid using informal taxis or hailing private vehicles for rides as they are unregulated, the vehicles are often in disrepair, and usually do not have normal vehicle safety equipment such as seat belts and air bags.  “Cocos,” smaller, yellow ball-shaped “tuk-tuk” style vehicles, are not safe, and the Embassy advises its personnel not to use them.

Rental car agencies provide roadside assistance to their clients as a condition of rental contracts.  Travelers should not permit unauthorized persons to drive their rental vehicles.

See our  Road Safety page  for more information.

Aviation Safety Oversight:   As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Cuba, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Cuba’s Civil Aviation Authority under its International Aviation Safety Assessment program (IASA) for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the  FAA’s IASA website.  The U.S. Embassy in Havana prohibits U.S. government personnel from using any commercial airline for domestic flights within Cuba due to safety concerns.  The Embassy does not authorize government personnel to travel via Cubana Airlines.

Maritime Travel:  Mariners planning travel to Cuba should also check for  U.S. maritime advisories and alerts .  Information may also be posted to the  U.S. Coast Guard homeport website , and the  NGA broadcast warn ings .

For additional travel information

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • See the  State Department’s travel website  for the  Worldwide Caution  and  Travel Advisories .
  • Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook .
  • See  traveling safely abroad  for useful travel tips.

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Cuba .  For additional IPCA-related information, please see  the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA)  report.

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U.S. Visa Waiver Program: Impact of Travel to Cuba

On july 6, 2023, the u.s. department of homeland security (dhs) updated the existing electronic system for travel authorization (esta) application to add questions focusing on an applicant’s travel and connection to cuba, which has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the u.s. secretary of state..

Person writing on visa application.

On July 6, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated the existing Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application to add questions focusing on an applicant’s travel and connection to Cuba , which has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. secretary of state.

  • DHS updated the ESTA application to reflect its current policy on travel to Cuba.
  • ESTA will be denied for citizens of visa waiver program countries who traveled to Cuba on or after January 12, 2021.
  • Existing ESTA approvals may also be revoked.

Citizens of participating visa waiver program (VWP) countries who travel to or are dual nationals of a country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism are not eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP, which permits citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States as a tourist or business visitor for up to ninety days without first securing a visa stamp from a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. (At this time, only three other countries are considered state sponsors of terrorism—Iran, North Korea, and Syria.) With this update, citizens of participating VWP countries who have traveled to Cuba on or after January 12, 2021, are not eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP. This also applies to dual nationals of a VWP country and Cuba. The exception to this is limited and focuses on military personnel or government employees of a VWP country where their presence in Cuba was required to carry out their official duties.

For those travelers who do not fall within the limited exception, an ESTA application will be denied. In addition, for those travelers with an approved ESTA application who have traveled to Cuba on or after January 12, 2021, or hold dual nationality with a VWP country and Cuba, DHS stated that their approval will be revoked. DHS clarified that travel to the United States is not barred for these individuals, rather these individuals remain eligible to apply for an appropriate visa stamp from a U.S. embassy or consulate for travel to the United States.

The VWP was established in 1986. It permits citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States as tourists or business visitors for up to ninety days without first securing a visa stamp from a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. While a visa stamp is not required prior to entry, approval through ESTA must first be secured.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments and provide updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.

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Cbp announces esta ineligibility for travelers who have been present in cuba.

With limited exceptions, a traveler who is found to have visited Cuba on or after January 12, 2021 is not eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program ( VWP ) using an Electronic System for Travel Authorization ( ESTA ) and must apply for a visa to travel to the United States. Additionally, a traveler who at the time of application for an ESTA holds dual nationality with both a VWP country and Cuba is not eligible for travel under the VWP using an ESTA and must apply for a visa to travel to the United States. If an ESTA has already been approved and it is later determined that the traveler has been present in Cuba or holds dual nationality with both a VWP country and Cuba, the ESTA will be revoked. Ineligibility for an ESTA is not a bar to travel to the United States. Individuals who are not eligible to travel under the VWP may apply for a visa at any U.S. embassy or consulate.

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Esta And Cuba Travel

Esta And Cuba Travel

Exploring Cuba with ESTA Travel Authorization

The esta program.

When considering traveling to Cuba, it is important to understand the requirements and regulations of entry and stay in the country. For citizens of eligible countries, including the United States, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) provides a simplified process for obtaining travel authorization.

ESTA is an automated system that determines eligibility through an online application process. It screens travelers before their departure to the United States and allows them to board a carrier bound for Cuba.

While ESTA does not guarantee entry into Cuba, it simplifies the process by providing an initial assessment of eligibility. Travelers must still comply with relevant Cuban regulations and go through immigration and customs upon arrival.

Traveling to Cuba

Esta And Cuba Travel

Cuba, with its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and unique history, has become an increasingly popular destination for travelers. Whether you are interested in exploring Havana’s colonial architecture or relaxing on the pristine beaches of Varadero, Cuba offers a diverse range of experiences.

Travelers to Cuba can immerse themselves in the country’s rich heritage by visiting the historic sites, such as Ernest Hemingway’s former residence, or by exploring the lively art scene. Nature enthusiasts can discover the beauty of Cuba’s national parks and biosphere reserves.

Moreover, Cuba’s culinary traditions, influenced by various cultures, offer a delightful gastronomic experience. From sampling traditional Cuban dishes to indulging in fusion cuisine, food enthusiasts can satisfy their taste buds.

It is important to note that while ESTA travel authorization simplifies the entry process, travelers must still be aware of cultural norms and obey local laws. Respecting the local customs and traditions enhances the travel experience and fosters positive interactions with the local population.

The Benefits of ESTA Travel Authorization

Esta And Cuba Travel

The ESTA travel authorization offers various benefits for travelers planning a trip to Cuba:

  • Efficiency: The ESTA application process is fast and efficient, allowing travelers to obtain authorization with minimal paperwork and hassle.
  • Convenience: By obtaining ESTA authorization in advance, travelers can avoid potential delays or issues upon arrival in Cuba.
  • Cost savings: ESTA eliminates the need for a traditional visa, which can come with additional fees and processing time.
  • Flexibility: ESTA authorization is valid for multiple trips within a two-year period. This allows travelers to easily plan return visits or explore other destinations in the region.
  • Peace of mind: By obtaining ESTA travel authorization, travelers can have peace of mind knowing that they meet the initial eligibility requirements for entering Cuba.

It is important to note that ESTA is not a substitute for a visa. Travelers with specific purposes, such as work or study, may still need to apply for a visa through the appropriate channels.

Research-Based Evidence on Travel

Scientific studies have demonstrated the positive effects of travel on individuals’ well-being and personal growth. Researchers have found that travel can contribute to improved mental health, increased creativity, and enhanced cultural awareness.

Studies have shown that exposure to different cultures and environments can lead to greater adaptability and open-mindedness. Traveling also provides opportunities for learning, self-reflection, and broadening one’s perspectives.

Esta And Cuba Travel

Furthermore, research suggests that travel experiences can have long-lasting effects on individuals’ happiness and life satisfaction. Memories from trips, interactions with diverse people, and immersive cultural experiences can create lasting positive memories and contribute to overall well-being.

On a societal level, tourism plays a significant role in economic growth and development. The revenue generated from the tourism industry can help support local communities, preserve cultural heritage, and protect natural resources.

In Conclusion

Exploring Cuba with ESTA travel authorization provides a streamlined process for travelers to embark on a journey to this captivating country. By obtaining ESTA, travelers can enjoy the benefits of a simplified entry process, allowing them to focus on immersing themselves in Cuba’s rich culture, history, and natural beauty.

It is important for travelers to research and understand the Cuban regulations and requirements before planning their trip. This will ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience that respects the local customs and fosters positive interactions with the people of Cuba.

Esta And Cuba Travel

Remember, travel is not only an opportunity for personal growth and cultural exploration, but it also contributes to the economic development of destinations and the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.

Amanda Mathews

Amanda Mathews

Amanda J. Mathews is a passionate writer and researcher who focuses on the history and culture of Cuba. She is an avid traveler who has spent considerable time in Cuba, immersing herself in the vibrant culture and learning as much as she can about the country. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience with others and is dedicated to helping foster a better understanding of Cuba and its people.

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ESTA after a trip to Cuba - Cuba Forum

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ESTA after a trip to Cuba

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esta travel cuba

I am an european citizen (admissible for ESTA) but living and working in Canada for a few years. As many Canadians, i cross the land border on a regular basis, and therefore always have a valid ESTA.

As many Canadians, i had planned a trip to Cuba this winter, since i was not a US citizen / US resident and not travelling to Cuba through the US... but now, i learnt that the US may cancel ESTA after a trip to Cuba.

Since i am not flying to Cuba from or through the US, can they still cancel my ESTA later on after my trip, next time i want to cross the land border (how would they know)? My passport is going to expire soon, i had therefore planned to renew it after my trip to Cuba anyway : what if i get a new passport, can they trace my trip to Cuba if i did not travel through the US and have a new passport (no stamp left)?

The worse thing ever in this non sense is that the Canadian friends i would go on trip with would be able to cross the US border the next day, no question asked... how does that even make the slightest sense? If it is such a terrible country with horrible terrorism (LOL) how does it make it different if a Canadian or a European or whoever go there?!

I cannot afford the over a year wait for a regular US visa...

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At the moment it is what it is.

If you enter US airspace the airline is required to submit a list of passengers on the plane to the US.

This is how they will get you.

esta travel cuba

The rule says that if you travel to Cuba after January 2021, you are not eligible to use ESTA/visa waiver.

Will they cancel your ESTÁ in the circumstances that you set out ? Nobody knows for sure.

Will they deny you a new ESTA or cancel that ? Nobody knows for sure. I would think that they are able to connect the two passports. They don’t need to look at the passport to know that you went to Cuba.

It was Trump's decision, so what to expect except total non sense...

esta travel cuba

The ESTA cancellation was only introduced this year.

The Trump regime put Cuba back on that list.

The Biden regime has left Cuba on the list.

I doubt that many Cubans were crying out for group people-to-people trips to be restored .

' class=

Tripadvisor staff has removed this post because it did not meet Tripadvisor's forum guidelines with regards to off-topic chat.

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esta travel cuba

News report | e-Visa.co.uk | 10/10/2022 | ±4 minutes reading time

On 4 August 2022, e-Visa.co.uk reported about the anti-terrorism legislation and the fact that Cuba was added to a US list of countries that are seen as state sponsors of terrorism. This new legislation has consequences for travellers who want to apply for an ESTA . More information about the current consequences of this visa legislation for anyone who has visited Cuba can be found here.

ESTA not possible for travellers who have been in Cuba on or after 12 January 2021

In an early August 2022 news item on the ESTA, e-Visa.co.uk reported that travellers who visited Cuba on or after 12 January 2021 can only apply for a visa. This concerns travellers with a passport from a country that is part of the US Visa Waiver Program. These travellers can usually travel to the USA without a visa, but not without an ESTA. Travellers from countries that are not part of the Visa Waiver Program, already have to apply for a visa. Almost all European countries are part of the Visa Waiver Program. Since 2009, travellers from these countries have therefore been required to have their trip registered with an ESTA application. This is a consequence of previous anti-terrorism measures following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.

ESTA or no ESTA for anyone who has travelled to Cuba before 12 January 2021?

Since early 2021, the US government officially considers the Cuban government to be a state sponsor of terrorism. Therefore, the entry requirements are significantly more strict for (certain) travellers who have ever been to Cuba and now want to travel to the US. By now, it is clear that some travellers who would have qualified for an ESTA before the measure now have to apply for a US visa. This applies to travellers who have been to Cuba on or after 12 January 2021. However, both official government coverage and media reports on how far back the measure actually goes, have so far caused confusion.

Amended embassy information

The US Embassy in Paris clearly states that travellers who have travelled to Cuba “on or after 12 January 2021” require a visa. Moreover, the clarification on this official government website states, as expected, that this does not only apply to French citizens. It also applies to all holders of a passport from a Visa Waiver Program country who visited Cuba on or after the specified date. Therefore, it also includes British and Irish travellers. The information on this website has previously been amended by the US government to prevent any mishaps. Nevertheless, travellers who have been in Cuba before 12 January 2021 are not separately mentioned. This has caused a lot of confusion because, at the same time, other official government pages have given conflicting information.

Some travellers who have been in Cuba before 2021 still stopped by US Customs and Border Protection

The US Customs and Border Protection states that, despite the information from the US Embassy, a traveller who has previously been in Cuba “no longer qualifies” for an ESTA. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs also indirectly refers travellers to this information from US Customs. Other sources previously reported that (only) travellers who have been in Cuba since 2011, now need a US visa. However, this date applies to travellers who have been to other countries listed as state sponsors of terrorism.

However, according to the now updated information from the countryʼs embassy in France, the date regarding travellers who have been to Cuba should be 12 January 2021. The visa requirement therefore does not apply to Cuba trips made between 2011 and 2021 or trips in earlier years. To date, some travellers who visited Cuba years ago have been able to travel to the United States without any issues since the measureʼs implementation. That being said, there have also been several cases of travellers with an ESTA who have been refused at the border because they had travelled to Cuba before 2021.

I have been to Cuba before 12 January 2021 and I want to travel to the United States. What should I do?

It is possible to travel with a visa instead of an ESTA, but it is also an expensive, time-consuming and possibly unnecessary choice. Travellers who have been to Cuba before 12 January 2021 may want to consider bringing additional documents relating to their previous trip to Cuba with them to the United States. However, if in doubt about whether you meet the ESTA requirements , it is best to contact the US Consulate or an embassy about this.

Take note: this news article about the ESTA for the USA is more than one year old. It might contain outdated information and advice, and no rights can therefore be derived from this article. Are you going on a trip soon and do you wish to do know what rules currently apply? Read all about the up-to-date information about the ESTA for the USA .

Also check the following pages

  • Tips for uploading the required documents for your ESTA
  • Romania closer to being ammited to the ESTA programme
  • All news reports

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Serial Season 4

A realistic illustration depicting life for workers and detainees at Guantánamo

“Serial” returns with a history of Guantánamo told by people who lived through key moments in Guantánamo’s evolution, who know things the rest of us don’t about what it’s like to be caught inside an improvised justice system.

Published March 21, 2024

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Serial Season 4: Guantánamo. One prison camp, told week by week.

About Serial Season 4

Right after Sept. 11, the United States created a brand-new criminal justice system at Guantánamo Bay. It was a prison and a court designed to deal with the people we had captured whom we suspected of being members of the Taliban or al Qaeda.

But to do what we wanted to do at Guantánamo — to interrogate detainees the way we wanted, to hold them indefinitely without charging them with a crime — we had to push aside the old, time-tested rules for detaining prisoners of war. And the consequences of that fell on ordinary people: thousands of military personnel, hundreds of prisoners, everybody scrambling through the same experiment.

There has been great journalism about the legal maneuvering to justify Guantánamo, and about the detainee abuse and the politics and policy. But “Serial” reporters Sarah Koenig and Dana Chivvis were after the inside stories, a picture of Guantánamo you could get only from the people who went through it. For years, though, all the best stories they heard about Guantánamo were off the record. But they stuck with it, figuring maybe once enough people were back in civilian life they’d be willing to tell those stories on the record. A couple of years ago, the “Serial” team started contacting people again: guards, interrogators, commanders, lawyers, chaplains, translators and former prisoners. More than a hundred people. And a remarkable number of them said: Okay, I’m ready. Here’s what happened.

“Serial” Season 4 is a history of Guantánamo told by people who lived through key moments in its evolution, who know things the rest of us don’t about what it’s like to be caught inside an improvised justice system.

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  • Sofia degli Alessandri is an Italian composer based in London. Her music combines field recordings, synths, chamber instruments and electronic beats. She composes for film, television, dance and other media.
  • Hosts Sarah Koenig and Dana Chivvis Producer Jessica Weisberg Editor Julie Snyder Additional Reporting Cora Currier Fact Checking and Research Ben Phelan Additional Fact Checking Jessica Suriano Music supervision, sound design, and mixing Phoebe Wang Original score Sofia degli Alessandri Additional Editing David Kestenbaum, Jen Guerra, Alvin Melathe, Ellen Weiss and Ira Glass Contributing Editors Rozina Ali and Carol Rosenberg Assistant Producer Emma Grillo Translators and Interpreters Raza Sayibzada, Nael Hijjo, Atiq Rahin, Dana El-Issa, Bachar Alhalabi, and Omama Osman Art Direction Pablo Delcan Art Max Guther Standards Editor Susan Wessling Legal Review Al-Amyn Sumar and Maya Gandhi Reporting and Research Amir Khafagy and Sami Yousafazai Additional Production Daniel Guillemette and Katie Mingle Executive Assistant Mack Miller Supervising Producer Ndeye Thioubou Deputy Managing Editor Sam Dolnick
  • At the New York Times, thanks to Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Nina Lassam, Susan Beachy, Kitty Bennett, Alain Delaquérière, Sheelagh McNeill, Kirsten Noyes, Jack Begg, Jeffrey Miranda, Colleen Wormsley, Peter Rentz, John-Michael Murphy, Jordan Cohen, Zoe Murphy, Pierre-Antoine Louis, Mahima Chablani, Kelly Doe, Anisha Muni, Kimmy Tsai, Victoria Kim, Ashka Gami, Brad Fisher, Maddy Masiello, Daniel Powell, Marion Lozano, Tug Wilson and Aisha Khan
  • Special thanks Katie Mingle, Jenelle Pifer, Alissa Shipp, Nadia Reiman, Anita Badejo, Katie Fuchs, Alison Beckman at the Center for Victims of Torture, Clive Stafford Smith, Alisa Dogramadzieva, Shuaib Almosawa, Mohamed Elfaki, Freshta Taeb, Edgar August, Esther Whitfield, Lauren Myerscough-Mueller, Mark Fallon, Pardiss Kebriaei, Steve Vladeck, Charlie Savage, Michelle Shephard, Bastian Berbner, John Goetz, Sarah Mirk and everyone involved in Guantánamo Voices, Peter Jan Honigsberg, Tim Golden, John Ryan, Stuart Couch, Shayana Kadidal, Ray Rivera, Steven Kleinman, Steve Wood and Lee Riffaterre

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Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story — a true story — over the course of a season.

A high-school senior named Hae Min Lee disappeared one day after school in 1999, in Baltimore County, Maryland. A month later, her body was found in a city park. She'd been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was sentenced to life in prison. Learn more

In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home. Learn more

“Serial” is heading back to court. This time, in Cleveland. Not for one extraordinary case; instead, Serial wanted to tackle the whole criminal justice system. To do that we figured we’d need to look at something different: ordinary cases. So we did. Inside these ordinary cases we found the troubling machinery of the criminal justice system on full display. Learn more

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Serial Productions makes narrative podcasts that have transformed the medium. From the powerful forces shaping our public schools to a mystery at the heart of a scandal that rocked Britain, Serial expands the boundaries of audio investigative storytelling. Learn more

Further Reading From The Times

The guantánamo docket, a closer look at what the u.s. lets you see of its war court at guantánamo bay, conditions at guantánamo are cruel and inhuman, u.n. investigation finds.

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COMMENTS

  1. Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    Fee for application is $21.00 USD. Valid payment methods include MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover (JCB or Diners Club only), and PayPal. The following information may also be required: Traveler's aliases or other names (If Applicable). Traveler's National ID or Personal ID number (If Applicable). Traveler's Global Entry/NEXUS/SENTRI ...

  2. Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    The U.S. Department of State designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) on January 12, 2021. With limited exceptions, a traveler who is found to have visited Cuba on or after this date is not eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) using an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and must apply for a visa to ...

  3. Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act

    The U.S. Department of State designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) on January 12, 2021.With limited exceptions, a traveler who is found to have visited Cuba on or after this date is not eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) using an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and must apply for a visa to ...

  4. All about the US ESTA and CUBA [ESTA After Visiting Cuba]

    That meant that visitors to Cuba were no longer able to visit the USA using the ESTA Visa Waiver Scheme. It does NOT mean that you cannot visit the USA. It simply means that to visit the USA after a trip to Cuba you'll need to apply for a regular visa, at an embassy or consulate of the United States. The enforcement of this policy came in ...

  5. Electronic System for Travel Authorization

    Electronic System for Travel Authorization. ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine ...

  6. Esta Fact Sheet

    The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTA application, a traveler is notified of his or her eligibility to ...

  7. Visa Waiver Program

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries * to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel and meet all requirements explained ...

  8. Can I make an ESTA application if I've been to Cuba?

    ESTA still valid after travel to Cuba Recently, the US Customs and Border Protection agency revealed that they have eased the ESTA requirements with regard to Cuba specifically. Rather than blocking applications from people who have been to Cuba since 10 March 2011, now only visits after January 2021 disqualify a person from acquiring an ESTA.

  9. Cuba International Travel Information

    Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.

  10. U.S. Visa Waiver Program: Impact of Travel to Cuba

    DHS updated the ESTA application to reflect its current policy on travel to Cuba. ESTA will be denied for citizens of visa waiver program countries who traveled to Cuba on or after January 12, 2021. Existing ESTA approvals may also be revoked. Citizens of participating visa waiver program (VWP) countries who travel to or are dual nationals of a ...

  11. Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization | U.S. Department of Homeland Security ... FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. If you are looking for more information about the ESTA application process or to review the Frequently Asked Questions, please explore the help topics below. ... How does Cuba's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism ...

  12. CBP Announces ESTA Ineligibility for Travelers Who Have Been Present in

    With limited exceptions, a traveler who is found to have visited Cuba on or after January 12, 2021 is not eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) using an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and must apply for a visa to travel to the United States. Additionally, a traveler who at the time of application for an ESTA holds dual nationality with both a VWP country ...

  13. Esta And Cuba Travel

    1. Exploring Cuba with ESTA Travel Authorization. 2. The ESTA Program. 3. Traveling to Cuba

  14. The ESTA visa waiver

    This means that traveling to Cuba after January 2021 will immediately disqualify you from ESTA eligibility and you will need a B-1 or B-2 visa to enter the US, even for transit. These rules do not affect the visa approval process; you will not be penalized for visiting Cuba. It is simply an unfortunate effect of the US terrorism prevention laws.

  15. Your ESTA Is Valid If You Were in Cuba Before 2021, But Not After, US

    Travelers from the 40 world countries under the United States' Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) who have been to Cuba before January 2021 are eligible to travel to the US with an ESTA (Electronic Travel Authorization System).. Yet, those who travelled to Cuba after January 2021, when the then-US President Donald Trump announced it a "state sponsor of terrorism" (SST), will have to apply for a ...

  16. United States: CBP Fully Implements ESTA Ineligibility Due to Cuba Travel

    - The CBP Visa Waiver Program's ESTA application has been updated to include ineligibility questions regarding travel to Cuba on or after January 12, 2021, as a result of the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism on that date. - According to CBP, if it is determined that an individual already approved for ESTA has prior disqualifying travel to Cuba, or dual nationality with ...

  17. ESTA after a trip to Cuba

    1. Re: ESTA after a trip to Cuba. 1 year ago. Save. At the moment it is what it is. If you need an ESTA to enter the US and you go to Cuba your ESTA is toast. If you enter US airspace the airline is required to submit a list of passengers on the plane to the US. This is how they will get you.

  18. esta

    I visit Cuba regularly and now some friends of mine are considering a first-time trip there. Their travel agent has told them that Cuba has recently stopped stamping passports "…to avoid any problems for travellers flying to and from the US, whether around the dates of their trip to Cuba or at a later date.". My understanding is that prior travel to Cuba makes VWP nationals ineligible ...

  19. Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization | U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Toggle navigation ESTA. Home; Apply. Individual Application; Group of Applications; ... Have you traveled to, or been present in Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011?

  20. ESTA application after a trip to Cuba still possible?

    In an early August 2022 news item on the ESTA, e-Visa.co.uk reported that travellers who visited Cuba on or after 12 January 2021 can only apply for a visa. This concerns travellers with a passport from a country that is part of the US Visa Waiver Program. These travellers can usually travel to the USA without a visa, but not without an ESTA.

  21. ESTA with travel to Cuba before 2021

    4. Visiting Cuba in 2015 does NOT make your friend ineligible to enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program/ESTA. This restriction only applies to people that have entered Cuba since it was classified by the US government as a "State Sponsor of Terrorism", which occurred on January 12, 2021. Anyone visiting Cuba before that date is able to use ...

  22. Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    You are eligible to apply for admission under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if you: Intend to enter the United States for 90 days or less for business, pleasure or transit. Have a valid passport lawfully issued to you by a Visa Waiver Program country. Arrive via a Visa Waiver Program signatory carrier. Have a return or onward ticket.

  23. Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    VDOM DHTML tml>. Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

  24. 'Serial' Season 4 Presents 'Guantánamo': Cuba's Infamous Prison Camp

    "Serial" returns with a history of Guantánamo told by people who lived through key moments in Guantánamo's evolution, who know things the rest of us don't about what it's like to be ...

  25. Security Alert: France Elevates Its Security Alert System (25 MAR 2024)

    Following the March 22 terrorist attack in Moscow, Russia, the French government elevated its Vigipirate national security alert system to the highest level. As a result, residents and visitors throughout France may see heightened security in public areas, including airports; public transport; places of worship; tourist sites; schools; major sports venues; and large commercial centers.