Back in 1960, the USA government imposed an embargo on the nation of Cuba. This was immediately after the overthrow of the Batista Regime by the Cuban Revolution. The resulting embargo was ideally an economic, financial and commercial embargo.
While it does not expressly make it illegal for US residents to travel to Cuba, it makes it very difficult and challenging to travel there, even for holiday or family travel.
At the moment, the Havana Travel Primer has been eased by the Obama administration. This relaxation of the rules allows American Cubans to travel to Cuba without restrictions. Now even students and missionaries are allowed to travel without the restrictions.
It is important to note that the Cuban government has placed no restrictions on Americans traveling to the country. However, Americans are forbidden by law from traveling to Cuba unless under very specific visas and licenses.
Therefore, Americans need to seek government approval, permission and visas on top of other documents. Such approval is very hard to get and most Americans would rather avoid travel to Cuba altogether. However, a few manage to find ways around the embargo because they do not believe it is fair or ethical to ban the travel and punish Cuba.
There are various ways of getting to Cuba. One is to make a booking through agencies outside the United States. There are many agencies in Canada and Mexico that are happy to book travelers on flights to Cuba.
Such travelers will not fly directly from the USA but to third party destinations such as Cancun or Toronto from where they get connecting flights to Cuba. This is one of the easiest and most common ways of traveling to Cuba from the USA.
The Cuban authorities do not require visas for US tourists. This means that upon arrival in Havana, tourists and other visitors simply need to show their passports to be allowed entry. Many also request their passports not be stamped upon entry into and exit from Cuba.
Passport control officers in Cuba are usually happy to oblige. Travelers using this kind of arrangement should avoid buying any souvenirs as they may be questioned by customs upon return to US. A successful Havana Travel Primer needs careful planning and travelers can have a wonderful holiday in Cuba.
Even in Cuba, all payments should be made through cash and use of checks or credit cards should not be encouraged. This is an attempt to avoid any red flags that could raise questions in future.
However, the US does export products to Cuba and is the 6th largest exporter, shipping food and medicine to the country.
All payments are usually made in cash as credit facilities are not allowed. It is rather obvious that Americans traveling to Cuba are faced with enormous challenges.
The options available include seeking the difficult and challenging path of getting government approved visa and permits or using third party travel agencies in countries such as Canada and Mexico for a successful Havana Travel Primer .