How to obtain a permit from Support for the Cuban People?

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In recent years, Cuba has become a popular destination worldwide for its rich culture, breathtaking scenery and the hospitality of its people. However, travel from the US can be challenging due to restrictions imposed by the US government that limit access for its citizens. Fortunately, there are several authorised categories that allow travel to the island, such as visits to family members, work purposes or the Support for the Cuban People category, which is the most common for tourist travel and which we will discuss next in this post.

The Support for the Cuban People category authorises travel to Cuba that promotes direct contact and activities that benefit the Cuban people, encouraging cultural and humanitarian interactions. As we will see below, this is a quite generic category that can be easily justified and allows for travel to the island quite freely.

How to acquire an entry permit to Cuba under the category Support for the Cuban People?

As you will see in the following lines, obtaining an entry permit to Cuba as a US citizen is a somewhat more complex process than obtaining a visa for any other country. That is why we have prepared this section where we tell you each step you must follow to apply for the authorisation and the visa to enter Cuba.

1. Obtain the Cuban Tourist Card or visa

To travel to Cuba it is mandatory to obtain the Cuban Tourist Visa. This permit allows you to stay in the country for up to 90 days. You can apply online on the website of the Cuban embassy, or directly at Havana airport. If you decide to apply at the airport, please note that this will delay your entry into the country. To apply you will need your current passport, with a minimum expiry date of 6 months from the time of entry into the country, and complete some personal details.

It is recommended that you apply at least 20 to 15 days in advance. But the visa will most likely be approved in less than 48 hours. The cost of the visa varies depending on the country you’re travelling from, but for travel from the US it’s $120. In this post you can read more about visas to Cuba: Travel visas to Cuba: How to obtain a visa to travel to Cuba?

Application / OriginUSAEuropeMexicoOther Countries
Buy Online120$35€40$40$
Cuba visa prices by origin and type of application

2. Obtain Travel Health Insurance

Cuba requires all visitors to have valid health insurance that covers medical expenses in case of illness or injuryduring their stay in the country. This insurance is a mandatory entry requirement and is verified upon arrival at the airport in Cuba.

We recommend you shop around and look at it ahead of time so you can choose the best option.

3. Book accommodation

To apply for a Cuban People’s Support Licence you will need to include in your itinerary the accommodations where you will be staying. Remember that the US government has a list of restrictions that limits many hotels and restaurants on the island, so it’s worth checking before you book.

4. Organise your itinerary and write it down

All persons travelling from the United States must prepare adetailed itinerary for their trip in order to apply for the Support for the Cuban People authorisation. This document, which you will have to carry with you during your trip, must include your accommodation and all the visits and activities you will carry out during your stay. Remember that these must be related to the category, so you will have to include related activities. We will develop this section later on.

5. Application for the Cuban People’s Support Licence

Once you have completed the above steps, you can apply for the Cuban People Support Licence through the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control OFAC website. If you are travelling with a travel agency, they will be able to do this for you.

Authorisation can also be arranged through some American airlines operating between the US and Cuba, such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines or Spirit Airlines. Airlines can provide information on the requirements and process, but passengers must ensure they comply with the regulations and obtain the appropriate authorisation before travelling.

Travel to Cuba from the United States
Havana @pixabay

What requirements need to be justified in order to obtain the category of Support for the Cuban People?

For OFAC to approve your trip under the Support for the Cuban People category, it is essential to demonstrate that your trip is designed to promote direct support for the Cuban people and does not contribute to the Cuban government or the Cuban armed forces. Here are some requirements and activities you should consider to justify this category:

  1. Activities in support of the Cuban people: your travel itinerary should include activities that demonstrate a commitment to and direct support of Cuban society. This may include cultural interactions, humanitarian projects, educational activities, exchanges with local organisations and projects that benefit the local community.
  2. Avoid transactions with the Cuban government: it is important to avoid any financial or commercial transactions that directly benefit the Cuban government, including companies controlled by the Cuban state or armed forces. You will be able to check which companies are banned in the List of Restricted Entities and Sub-entities Associated with Cuba.
  3. Keep detailed records: in addition to submitting your travel itinerary for clearance, you must keep detailed records of all your activities in Cuba, including dates, places, persons involved and purposes of each activity. These records will serve as evidence that you are complying with the requirements of the Support to the Cuban People category if requested.
  4. Positive contribution and interaction with the local population: encourage contact with Cuban citizens. This can include visiting local families, participating in community events and supporting projects that benefit the local population. Make sure that your activities have a positive impact on Cuban society and are designed to benefit the local population.
  5. Education and cultural exchange: participate in cultural exchange activities that foster mutual understanding and enrichment.

How much does it cost to apply for the Support for the Cuban People category?

The application process for the Support to the Cuban People authorisation is completely free of charge. When completing the form you will have to attach all the documentation we have seen previously, but you will not be required to make any payment. However, remember that the visa does cost $120.

What permits do I get in Cuba when I enter under the category of Support to the Cuban People?

Although technically tourism is not allowed when travelling from the US, with the Support the Cuban People authorisation you can carry out almost any type of activity as long as it is justified under this category. Here are some examples:

  • Accommodation: You can stay in hotels, Airbnb, flats or private homes as long as they do not appear on the List of Restricted Accommodation in Cuba.
  • Restaurant: As with hotels, you may eat at any restaurant as long as it does not appear on the List of Restricted Entities and Sub-entities Associated with Cuba. Gastronomy falls under the category of cultural exchange, and eating in local restaurants counts as supporting the Cuban community. So we encourage you to discover Cuban cuisine and its delicious typical dishes.
  • Shopping: You can visit shops and buy souvenirs from your trip as long as they respect customs regulations. More on the restrictions later.
  • Cultural activities: On your trip you can visit museums, join a guided tour and all the cultural activities you can think of, such as salsa lessons or traditional Cuban cooking classes.
Havana Cuba
Havana @passporter

What should I consider before applying for the category Support the Cuban People?

When applying for the Support to the Cuban People authorisation you will need to consider several things if you want to secure your travel. Check these points before you fill in the form:

  • Define your travel itinerary: In your travel itinerary you should include all the activities you will be doing during your visit, the hotels you will be staying at, the restaurants you will be eating at, and all the cities you will be visiting. The more details you include in the plan, such as days and dates, the more likely you are to get approval.
  • Choose your accommodation wisely: Remember that the accommodation you include in your travel itinerary cannot be included in the List of Restricted Accommodations in Cuba.
  • Avoid some businesses: Make sure that the shops, restaurants or businesses you will be dealing with during your visit are not included in the List of Restricted Entities and Sub-Entities Associated with Cuba.
  • Keep receipts: by law, you must keep all your travel receipts and invoices for at least 5 years. US authorities may request them at any time.

Where can I get advice on how to obtain the Support the Cuban People status or which one is right for me?

The best way to get detailed information on the procedures you must follow to obtain the Support for the Cuban People authorisation is to go to the Cuban embassy in the United States or visit the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) website.

OFAC aims to discourage travel to Cuba for tourism purposes, so it is not particularly clear. That’s why we encourage you to check the information on travel blogs, such as Passporter, where in addition to the necessary formalities, we tell you those little tricks that will help you organise your trip without complications. Here is a post where you can find out more about the 12 travel categories: 12 legal travel categories for Cuba.

What restrictions should I be aware of when entering Cuba under the category Support for the Cuban People?

Under both the Support the Cuban People category and the other 11 categories, you will have to respect certain restrictions imposed by the Cuban and US governments. You can read about the restrictions below, which we have developed further in this post: List of travel restrictions to Cuba.

  • Cash limit: On entering Cuba you must declare whether you have more than 5,000 Cuban pesos in cash with you. And you will not be able to leave the country with more than 5,000 pesos.
  • Luggage allowance: Everyone travelling to Cuba is entitled to carry up to 30kg of luggage, divided between hand luggage and checked baggage. In addition, there is the possibility of carrying an additional 10kg of medicines in their original boxes. If the baggage exceeds the maximum weight, you must pay a fee for each extra kilo. It is also forbidden to enter the country with certain objects such as weapons, drugs and narcotics, psychotropic substances, hallucinogens, precursor substances, explosives or blood products.
  • Banned businesses: The US has created a list of all those businesses and restaurants it considers to be recreational, the Cuba Restricted Entities and Subentities List. Be sure not to include any of these businesses in your travel itinerary.
  • Banned Accommodations: Check that your hotel is not on this List of Restricted Accommodations in Cuba before booking.
  • Credit card restrictions: In Cuba, you can use American credit cards in shops, restaurants and accommodations that are not on the Lists of Restricted Accommodations, Entities and Sub-entities Associated with Cuba. It is therefore advisable to carry cash.
  • Activities not related to the category: remember that if you travel under the category of Support to the Cuban People you will not be able to work, study in an official institution, or participate in other activities not related to cultural and local support purposes.

Other Cuba travel tips?

  • The currency of Cuba is the Cuban peso.
  • The official language is Spanish, but you can also communicate in English.
  • US credit and debit cards don’t work in Cuba; you’ll need to bring cash and exchange it for Cuban pesos.
  • Travel with a first-aid kit with basic medicines, there may be shortages in pharmacies.
  • Get travel insurance for medical emergencies.
  • Always drink bottled water.
  • Wear sunscreen, especially in the summer months, as well as light but sun-protective clothing and stay hydrated.
  • Always carry your travel documents with you.
  • If you are a US citizen, you must keep all tickets and receipts from Cuba for 5 years.
a trip to Cuba

How to organise a trip to Cuba?

Register or download the Passporter App and discover all its possibilities.

  • Get inspired by other travellers’ experiences, photos and itineraries.
  • Organise your trip by the categories that suit you best: dates, number of days or type of trip (beach, mountain, restaurants…).
  • Add your friends so they can see and modify all the plans and information about the trip.
  • Create your own itinerary of your destination with everything you feel like visiting each day.
  • Add the stops that most interest you, including your accommodation, restaurants, museums…
  • Book your flights, accommodation, transfers and activities through a single app.
  • Save all your documents in the app to always have everything at hand: reservations, boarding passes, important documents…
  • Make any modifications you need and you’re all set for your trip.
  • Share your experience with other users. Upload photos of the places you’ve visited on your trip to the app and inspire other travellers with your experience. You can also share your own tips on how to travel to Cuba under the Support the Cuban People category.

If you have any doubts about how to do this, you can check our post: How to create a travel itinerary in Passporter.

Frequently asked questions about traveling to Cuba from the US

What documents do I need to travel to Cuba?

To travel to Cuba you will need your passport, visa, travel medical insurance, return flight ticket, customs and health form, and if you are travelling from the United States you will also need an Office of Foreign Assets Control Travel License.

What visa do I need to travel to Cuba from the United States?

To travel from the United States you will need a Pink Visa, which allows you to stay in the country for up to 90 days.

Can Americans travel to Cuba?

US citizens will be able to travel to Cuba provided they present the necessary documents and authorisation under one of the 12 legal categories.

What is the best category of travel to Cuba from the United States?

The category will depend on the type of trip you are going to make, but if your objective is to travel for tourism purposes, the best option is to select the category of “Support to the Cuban People”.

What type of insurance do I need to travel to Cuba?

To enter the country you need to have medical insurance that covers health incidents. It is not necessary to cover aspects of the trip such as flight delays or lost luggage.

How much does the Support to the Cuban People permit to travel to Cuba cost?

The authorisation is free of charge, but remember that the visa costs $120.

How to obtain an entry permit to Cuba under the category Support to the Cuban People?

To obtain a travel permit under this category, you must fill in an online form and submit a detailed itinerary of your activities on the island.

What is the category of Support to the Cuban People for travel to Cuba?

The Support to the Cuban People category authorises travel to Cuba that promotes direct contact and activities that benefit the Cuban people, encouraging cultural and humanitarian interactions.

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