OFAC LICENSING/WHO CAN TRAVEL TO CUBA
There are two authorized licensed travel categories according to OFAC, General and Specific. Depending on the reason for the visit the traveler may need to seek a specific license from the U.S. government, or OFAC, before they travel to Cuba. Travelers whose trips fall under certain travel categories do not need to get approval before traveling. Usually, after signing an affidavit proving they fall under one of the 12 categories for travel from the U.S. to Cuba travelers are allowed to visit Cuba with a general license.
When traveling with Cuba Travel Services you should find the following items inside your personalized ticket jacket:
Airline Ticket (3 copies: MIA-Cuba; Cuba-MIA; PAX receipt)- make sure to check on exact flight and check-in times.
Asistur Stamp– located on the back of the Charter Ticket. This medical insurance is included for all travelers from the US to Cuba for emergencies. Havanatur reps on the ground will assist if any medical services are needed while in Cuba.
Cuban Visa (when required)
Authorization Letter with copy of OFAC License or Travel Affidavit- may be asked for this upon returning by US immigration and customs officials.
Sanitary Statement for Travelers -this one is usually picked up.
Customs Declaration-this form is usually not collected from Americans, but best to fill it out.
Times: Charter flights are operated by Cuba Travel Services. Exact Departure Time will be available no more than 30 days prior to departure and will be printed on tickets. Flights and times may not be consistent throughout the season.
Airport Check-in:There will be a reserved check-in area at the airport with the airline company for CTS Charters. Please allow adequate time to check in all luggage. We recommend arriving 4 hours in advance as documents also need to be checked thoroughly.
Luggage: With the charter flight to Cuba (on the outbound only), each checked luggage will be charged at $20 per bag. In addition, each passenger is allowed up to 44 lbs of luggage (includes checked bag and larger carry-on). Anything over 44 lbs, will be charged at $2 per pound. A small carry-on, like a purse or small backpack, will not be weighed. Any larger carry-on may be weighed and added into the 44-lb allowance per person. Payment at the airport is CASH ONLY. On the return flight, there is no charge for luggage, as long as it stays under 50 lbs per person. In Cuba, the carry-on is exempt from the weight limitations. Please refer to our website for the most up to date luggage policy, as this is subject to change without notice: Baggage Policy
Seating Assignments: On your charter flight there is no pre-assigned seating. This will be assigned at the check-in counter at the airport. Please note that all attempts will be made to seat passengers together when possible.
HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULS I BRING AND APPROXIMATELY HOW MUCH DO THINGS COST?
You are allowed to bring up to $5,000 dollars. It is recommended to exchange to the CUC (local currency Cuban convertible pesos) in small increments at a time.
Though recent regulation changes within the US will facilitate banking between the two countries, it will take Cuba some time to implement the proper technology and procedures to be able to accept our American credit cards locally. Larger hotels may be among the first to start accepting American credit cards. It is still advisable to bring cash for your purchases. ATM machines are also not readily available throughout cities and only located at banks and some larger hotels.
In Cuba, tipping is a way of life. Local salaries are extremely low and do not suffice to buy everyday items. Tourism touches the lives of many Cubans and they truly depend on small donations and tips to feed their families. Though it may be a small amount to us, anything you offer these individuals that work hard to make a difference in your experience while there is greatly appreciated. If you leave a tip, leave it in CUC. Note: When outside of a resort or hotel when you’re traveling independently it’s always handy to have a few Cuban Pesos on you. You get about 24 of them for 1 Convertible Peso.
Cuba is like most other foreign destinations, you bring a major foreign currency and exchange it into the local currency to make purchases while you’re there. Cuban currency is NOT traded internationally, so you cannot buy it in advance. You buy it when you arrive in Cuba. (This is subject to change)
Range between 15 and 30 CUC per person, including one or two drinks
Breakfast buffets are typically included at hotels
Bottle of water- 1.00-1.50 depending on the size
Can of soft drink: 0.50-1.00 mostly in the street at a restaurant 1.00-2.50
Can or bottle of beer: 1.50 National 2.50 imported up to 4.00 at best hotels
Cocktail: 3.00- 8.00
Fruit is available from street vendors at a low price
Cigars: 0.60-1.50 nationals 2.50-3.00 imported (as much as $10.00/cigar)
Average daily spending: 100.00 dollars
Street food like sandwiches and pizza, though hard to find, fresh fruit drinks and other small purchases are all incredibly cheap. Once you get a feel for Cuba – if you speak a little Spanish it will be even better – there are peso bars and restaurants that can be quite interesting. Movies are cheap too.
If you are going out at night 50.00-150.00 per couple (include entrance fee to any dance place one bottle of rum and four cokes).
OPTIONS FOR TRANSPORTATION
Common transportation in Cuba: horse carriage, taxi, car rental and bicycle-taxi. Public transportation is not recommended and taxis are a very safe and reliable way to get around most cities/areas in Cuba.
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Taxis can also be hired for long distance such as Havana to Pinar del Río and etc. Prices should be agreed upon in advance with the driver.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE?
The rainy season in Cuba typically runs from May to November and the dry season is between December and April. Keep in mind that it may rain at any time, so it is wise to always have rain gear when traveling to Cuba. The temperatures in Cuba can range from the 60’s in the winter (though not very common) to the 90’s in the summer months. Wear comfortable, cool clothing. It is common to have AC in restaurants, hotels, and other indoor facilities. Keep in mind that not all places have AC in Cuba.
Bring insect repellent as the tropical weather also means a lot of mosquitos at dusk and dawn.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR
We suggest you pack comfortable casual clothing such as shorts and tee shirts in natural breathable fabrics. You may have long distance walks, therefore comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Dress attire for fine dining is similar to the US, formal clothing is not necessary, however we suggest you dress accordingly. Cathedrals, churches, and religious sites require conservative dress.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
Sunscreen and Sun Hats
Comfortable Clothing, Walking Shoes (casual attire)
Medications and OTC drugs, band aids, etc.
CASH (CC and ATM machines are not yet readily available)
Small gifts for kids and locals, depending on itinerary (for example, school supplies, small toys, candies, art supplies, band aids, OTC drugs
Wash Cloths (not provided at most hotels)
Tissue Paper (good to have your own at public restrooms)
WHAT IS THE TIME ZONE?
Cuban Standard Time is UTC/GMT –5
WHAT ARE THE TRADITIONAL FOODS AND SPECIALTIES
Cuban food has some Spanish and Caribbean influence. Along with Spain, other culinary influences include Africa, from the Africans that were brought to Cuba as slaves, and French, from the French colonist that came to Cuba from Haiti. Another important factor is that Cuba is an island, making seafood something that greatly influences Cuban cuisine. Cuba also has a tropical climate and tropical climate produces a long variety of tropical fruits such as banana, pineapple, guava, watermelon, and mango.
A typical meal typically consists of rice and black beans cooked together or apart. When cooked together the recipe is called “Moros y Cristianos”. Rice and red beans are called “Congri”. If cooked separate it is called “Arroz con frijoles”.
This would be accompanied by one of these options: roasted pork, ropa vieja (shredded beef) simmered in tomato-based sauce. Another option it is picadillo (ground beef) or vaca frita.
These options can be accompanied with plantains, fried potatoes, vegetables, or the famous yucca con mojo. Mojo will be made with oil, garlic, onion, and spices such as oregano and bitter orange or lime juice.
Another Cuban specialty will be arroz con pollo (yellow rice with chicken)
Cuban sandwich is a popular lunch prepared with Cuban bread and contains sliced roast pork, cheese, dill pickles, yellow mustard, tomatoes and lettuce, though can be hard to find in Cuba at times.
Typical desserts in Cuba: The famous arroz con leche, rice mixed with milk and ground cinnamon on top, Flan, Natilla, and Guava marmalade. Almost every meal ends with a famous Cuban coffee. Local drinks include Mojitos, Daiquiris, Rum drinks, Pina colada and many other rum based drinks. Local beer is also very refreshing.
MAY I PURCHASE ITEMS IN CUBA AND BRING THEM BACK WITH ME TO THE US?
You may acquire in Cuba and import as accompanied baggage into the United States merchandise with a value not to exceed $ 400 per person, provided that no more than $100 of the merchandise consists of alcohol or tobacco products and the merchandise is imported for personal use only.
Verizon service does work in Cuba now, but you must activate your international plan prior to departure. Other carriers may soon be available.
WHAT ITEMS ARE TYPICALLY AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE?
Cuban rum: The famous Havana club or Santiago.
Cuban Cigars: Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo and more. Note: amount should not be great than $100 USD in combination of alcohol and tobacco.
Hand-made arts and crafts.
WHAT ARE THE CULTURAL AND HISTORIC PLACES TO VISIT IN CUBA?
The best locations are Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, Santiago de Cuba, Pinar del Rio, Santa Clara, and Cienfuegos.
For nature or eco tours, we suggest Baracoa, Vinales, Topes de Collante (Escambray), Granma, Sierra Maestra Mountains, and Soroa.
If would like to visit beaches: Varadero, Jardines del Rey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Guardalavaca and Cayo Santa Maria