What is the Cuba People-to-People Travel Authorization?
What is the Cuba People-to-People Travel Authorization?
Trips to Cuba from the USA are now easier than ever with people-to-people travel programs. Travelers can simply schedule vacation packages with direct flights from Miami to Cuba through a state-approved service provider such as ATI. Before scheduling your next trip, it is important for everyone to understand the current laws regarding travel to this country and what you can expect when you land on Cuban soil.
Do I Need Approval?
There are a few exceptions to these new laws, but most U.S. persons can now travel to Cuba under category five. This includes Cuba educational travel and people-to-people travel in order to immerse oneself in the culture. Travelers will still apply for general authorization, but this paperwork is only kept on file in the event of future problems. The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control can inspect these applications, but most applications are immediately approved. The state-approved service provider will then supply this government organization with the full-time itinerary for each traveler.
This transition from specialized authorization to general authorization is one of the most dramatic changes to Cuban travel laws over the past few decades. It has made the application process exponentially easier and opened up countless new possibilities for travel between these two countries.
What to Bring
Unlike other categories that allow for some non-personal items, travelers that have signed up for Cuba vacation packages that fall under the people-to-people category must only bring personal items. Travelers will be given a full list of items that they can and cannot bring well before their flight. As a general rule, you should bring nothing more than basic personal items. This includes comfortable clothing that is suited for sub-tropical weather, hygiene products, beauty supplies, electric converters, and copies of all of your paperwork.
A number of older laws are expected to be revised or removed in the coming years, but there are currently a few restrictions on how and when U.S. persons can spend money in Cuba. Due to these upcoming changes, hundreds of new ATMs have been installed throughout the country. Unfortunately, most American debit and credit cards are not accepted in Cuba. American travelers can apply for a special debit account through companies such as Stonegate Bank in order to have a card that can be used at these ATMs. For those that would like to bring American currency, there is a 10 percent tax on all exchanges.
It was not many years ago that travelers were restricted on how much money they could spend while in Cuba. Luckily, these were some of the first laws to be lifted, and travelers now have no cap on how much they can spend per day. That being said, there is still a limit on the goods and products that can be taken home. Currently, U.S. regulations state that travelers can only bring back $400 in goods. This includes a cap of $100 on alcohol and tobacco products. In order to make the purchasing process as easy as possible, we still recommend that all travelers bring cash with them.
People-to-People Travel With ATI
Even with a monumental shift in the relationship between Cuba and the United States, “free travel” is still not possible at this time. The average citizen cannot simply purchase a plane ticket and reserve a room at a Cuban hotel. Here at American Tours International, we believe that Cuba has a rich and beautiful culture well beyond their iconic beaches. This is why we are proud to now offer people-to-people travel programs for five, eight, or 12 days. During this time, you will become immersed in the Cuban culture and get a taste of everything that this country has to offer.
Upon arrival in Havana, you will be met by a friendly and experienced travel guide and begin exploring this historical town. Travelers will be given a daily itinerary with plans laid out for your meals, tours, and transportation. Some of the interactive experiences that our travelers get to enjoy include meeting with artists in Camagüey and discussing the academic system with teachers in Havana.
What Else Will I See?
From the moment that you land on Cuban soil, our goal is to immerse you in the culture as quickly as possible. This begins with dinner at a local restaurant for authentic Cuban cuisine. On your second day in Havana, you will be taken to the vibrant arts complex known as Fusterlandia where you will enjoy some of the most iconic pieces of art on the island. Your next destination will be determined by the exact program that you choose. Longer trips will give you time to visit Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Camagüey, Playa Giron, and more.
All of our vacation packages end with a final night in Viñales, Pinar del Rio, or Matanzas before you say farewell at Havana International Airport.
Connectivity in Cuba
American cell phones with US carriers currently do not work in Cuba. Even though these phones do not work, many travelers still wish to bring their phone for a few different reasons. In addition to using it as a camera, some tourists also use their phone to connect to local hotspots. Some of the larger hotels that you will be staying at now offer Wi-Fi, and many of the smartphone apps will work as well.
Start Planning Your Cuban Adventure Today
You no longer need to struggle with mounds of paperwork and a lengthy application process in order to enjoy the vibrant history and amazing culture of Cuba. The team here at ATI can help you plan your next trip from start to finish and take the guesswork out of traveling to this country. This includes helping you with all of the paperwork that will be needed to fly in and out of Cuba from Miami. Please feel free to contact us today to ask about any of our Cuban travel packages or learn more about the evolving relationship between Cuba and the United States.