“How-to” Travel to Cuba

Malecon How to Image by Emily Chow

As of April 21, 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control released new travel guidelines for travel to Cuba that mirror the intentions of President Obama’s directive aimed at liberalizing the regulations. Under these guidelines, many groups that have been previously denied access to Cuba can now travel under either general or specific licenses.

To travel to Cuba, you must be eligible under regulations published by the U.S. Treasury Department. There are two kinds of licenses: a General License, which requires no permission or advance notification to U.S. officials; and a Specific License, an actual piece of paper for which one needs to apply to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which oversees the travel restrictions within the U.S. Treasury Department.

To learn how YOU can travel to Cuba, we invite you to take a look at the on-line brochures that LAWGEF has compiled. These brochures are intended to be a guide. If you have further questions regarding travel to Cuba, you should consult the full OFAC guidelines here, or consult with a licensed travel service provider or an attorney. Let the travel begin! 

 *Please feel free to print these documents as we will not be distributing them via regular mail* 


The United States maintains travel restrictions on no other country in the world except Cuba. Restrictions on travel to Cuba have existed since 1961, except under President Jimmy Carter beginning in 1977. Restrictions were re-imposed in 1982 during the Reagan Administration, codified (written into law) under the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, and were tightened further by the Bush Administration in 2004. Since being codified, only Congress can end the travel ban (and the embargo) through legislative action (passing a law). The President has limited powers to loosen—or tighten—regulations that govern 12 categories of travel.

The restrictions apply to all citizens and residents of the United States—no matter whether you travel to Cuba through a third country, or even if you hold citizenship from another country. Up to 2009, travel was severely limited for all Americans until President Obama eased restrictions for Cuban Americans visiting family. On January 14, 2011, President Obama directed that travel regulations be eased for certain categories of citizens, and many more people are now able to travel to Cuba without breaking the law (a law which we consider to be a violation of our fundamental rights as citizens of the United States). 


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