Ryan

Can a Non US Resident travel through the USA to Cuba

23 posts in this topic

Here's an odd one. Can someone, not resident in the US, fly directly to and from Cuba to the US?

For example, could I (resident in Ireland and not a US citizen), fly Dublin - Miami - Havana? Then the opposite on return.

The best result I have found so far is the bizarre logic as follows: I would not need an OFAC license as I do not require one as I am not under US jurisdiction, therefore I cannot get one, therefore I cannot travel to Cuba from the US.

Anybody have any experience of this? Does anyone know an actual answer?

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My understanding after several inquiries is that it is not possible. 

We don't meet the OFAC (12?) requirements. 

We don't exist. Off to Mexico/Canada/Panama we go. 

I pushed as to when this would change but it doesn't appear to be on the radar as yet. 

 

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Thanks for that, Fuzz and Prez. 

It is a strange one. Europe - Miami/Atlanta - Havana would be a handy way for lots of Europeans to get to Cuba so I would have thought there'd be some specific information by now on the web, from airlines or travel agents.

I have a friend, UK resident, who has bought tickets London - New York - Havana for February. He thinks it's fine as the airline didn't say anything otherwise.

The thing, is I know airlines can be terrible at providing this type of information. Another friend I know in Ireland, Irish resident but Canadian citizen, was travelling to Cuba from Dublin a few years ago and stopped at check-in, not allowed fly, as he had no tourist visa for Cuba. He had been used to flying to Havana from Toronto where the tourist visa is issued on the plane. Here we need to get a visa from the Cuban embassy or from an agent before going to the airport. The airline never told him that and let him get as far as check-in for him to be refused travel.

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Andy I don't see why there would be any problem.  120 commercial direct routes have either started or will be starting soon so there are plenty of options now.  Also, US citizens now do not need an OFAC license in hand, pre-approved to travel.  They can simply go to Cuba as long as their trip is for one of the 12 approved reasons. 

 

So the only issue I would see is the Cuban tourist visa which the airlines should start doing now, but just confirm with the airline.  

 

It is also now legal for US citizens to bring in cuban cigars. So you should not have any issue with that either.  Well, maybe your 500 cigars might raise a red flag.  😂👍

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I was in Havana last week. Flew direct from New York on Jet Blue. While there my friend and I chatted up a couple of young ladies on the patio at the Nacional. They were from Norway and had come to Havana via Miami and were returning through Miami as well. And Jet Blue did provide a tourist visa for $50.

So go figure...

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I think you should be clear as long as you have your cuban visa in hand or lined up already. The actual OFAC license is a farse, Im sure some people go through the process of applying, filing out all the paperwork, then fully documenting their trip to the necessary standards. I dont know anybody who has actually gone through all of that though. If you took a pole of the US citizens that have made the trip I would guess that close to 0% actually went through the full process. Were all still free though!

I dont know what grounds or legal framework the government would have for barring your transit through the country. I have a coworker, Nepalese citizen, living in the US on a work visa until he completes the full citizenship process there. His advisor reccomended he not make the trip until everything has been finalized. No actual reason, other than "you dont wanna give them any reason to ask questions." 

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Thanks for the replies, so it looks like he might be OK. He has no problem getting his Cuban visa from the Cuban embassy in London, so he'll have that already.

I've given him the phone number for the US embassy in Cuba anyway. They should be able to give him a definite answer.

Thanks again!

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2 hours ago, AlohaStyle said:

Andy I don't see why there would be any problem.  120 commercial direct routes have either started or will be starting soon so there are plenty of options now.  Also, US citizens now do not need an OFAC license in hand, pre-approved to travel.  They can simply go to Cuba as long as their trip is for one of the 12 approved reasons. 

 

So the only issue I would see is the Cuban tourist visa which the airlines should start doing now, but just confirm with the airline.  

 

It is also now legal for US citizens to bring in cuban cigars. So you should not have any issue with that either.  Well, maybe your 500 cigars might raise a red flag.  😂👍

It's not for me! Honestly! I'm happy to continue with my normal route. Dublin-Paris-Havana. It's less paperwork to travel to one non-EU country rather than two in the one trip.

And 500 cigars? You must be confusing me with somebody else....

 

2 hours ago, TomF said:

I was in Havana last week. Flew direct from New York on Jet Blue. While there my friend and I chatted up a couple of young ladies on the patio at the Nacional. They were from Norway and had come to Havana via Miami and were returning through Miami as well. And Jet Blue did provide a tourist visa for $50.

So go figure...

Thank! I hope things went well in establishing US-Norwegian relations!

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Received this today from my Travel Agent. 

 

Hi Rob

I have confirmed with American Airlines that Flying to Cuba from or through the U.S. for tourism is currently still NOT permitted, unless you fit in with the 12 permitted reason for travel:

·       Family visits

·       Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations

·       Journalistic activities

·       Professional research or professional meetings

·       Educational activities and people-to-people exchanges

·       Religious activities

·       Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions and exhibitions

·       Support for the Cuban people

·       Humanitarian projects

·       Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes

·       Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials

·       Travel related to certain authorized export transactions

So unless you qualify on the above, the Miami to Havana flight will not be an option for you unfortunately.

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Sort of related question...but not really. Money...will the shops take American cash, euros or does it have to be exchanged into CUC? 

I have a friend cruising to Cuba in May. She has graciously agreed to get some custom bundles for me. I'd like to send her with Euros. Thanks.

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I *really* wanted to go; and flights from a near-by airport were less than $350/rt.  Unfortunately as the Prez mentioned - it really isn't in the cards as my understanding is you'd need to 'show' a full itinerary of 8h/day.

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29 minutes ago, SteveH said:

I *really* wanted to go; and flights from a near-by airport were less than $350/rt.  Unfortunately as the Prez mentioned - it really isn't in the cards as my understanding is you'd need to 'show' a full itinerary of 8h/day.

8am - Breakfast on the beach with a mojito and a morning cigar

9am - Lounging on the beach, 2nd and 3rd mojito

10am - Considered getting up

11am - Finally decide to get up... to get another cigar

12pm to 2pm - Lunch and a few more mojitos (or a few too many)

3pm - Zzzzzzz

4pm - Zzzzzzz

5pm - Zzzzzzz

6pm - Get up to find a nice place for dinner before hitting the clubs in a few hours

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1 hour ago, SteveH said:

Ya....unfortunately doesn't work like that :P

It does though. @Fuzz didnt mention the hours spent between 7am and 8am getting rid of the hangover, but other than that, he's was spot on. Americans, myself included, travel to Cuba purely for tourism all the time. 

3 hours ago, Jimmy_jack said:

Sort of related question...but not really. Money...will the shops take American cash, euros or does it have to be exchanged into CUC? 

I have a friend cruising to Cuba in May. She has graciously agreed to get some custom bundles for me. I'd like to send her with Euros. Thanks.

I changed the majority of my USD to Euros before I left the states. I did have guys offer to "exchange" USD for CUC directly, but CUC were the only currency I used in stores. I actually had to ask for change in CUP quite a few times before I received any. I wanted some of the $3 CUP notes for souvenirs. I'm sure there are some that will gladly accept, but I don't think its the norm. If she is going to do just about anything on the island she will have to change for CUC anyway. 

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Prez...the 12 OFAC requirements is not what will hold you down. In order to get on those direct flights from the US you must have a US Residency card or a US Passport. A Cuban national with a US re-entry permit or another foreign passport that requires no Visa (Spain, Italy, Canada etc) can travel as well. You can buy the ticket and visa no problem but the airline can deny you boarding if you don't have one of the above. You might slip through the cracks but when you come back in it could also be an issue with immigration. They could deny you entry and possibly fine you. Oh, and if they deny you entry, their sending you back to Cuba on the next flight. John

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1 hour ago, JohnnyO said:

Prez...the 12 OFAC requirements is not what will hold you down. In order to get on those direct flights from the US you must have a US Residency card or a US Passport. A Cuban national with a US re-entry permit or another foreign passport that requires no Visa (Spain, Italy, Canada etc) can travel as well. You can buy the ticket and visa no problem but the airline can deny you boarding if you don't have one of the above. You might slip through the cracks but when you come back in it could also be an issue with immigration. They could deny you entry and possibly fine you. Oh, and if they deny you entry, their sending you back to Cuba on the next flight. John

I think you are spot on. 

American Airlines was happy to take my booking. 

Only when I pushed my travel agent to enquire was it made clear by AA that I would not be able to board. 

.....it sort of defeated the purpose .....morons. 

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The guy in London, for whom I originally asked about this issue, I met him in Havana a few times and forgot to ask how he got on.

I just got in touch with him now. He flew London - New York - Havana. He is a UK citizen/passport holder with no US resident status.

He flew London - New York, at New York he filled out the OFAC form (ticked "research") and got the US-issued pink visa. Flew to Havana, no issues. He flew directly back to London from Havana.

No problems at all with him not being a US citizen or permanent resident.

I asked him specifically if they had any extra questions for him or if he had any difficulty whatsoever, he said none at all.

 

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I just got back from Cuba, i'm Swedish and flew Stockholm - Fort Lauderdale - Havana and the same way back.

The OFAC is a joke, no one cares which one you check.

But the thing for non US citizens is that the visa must be issued in the US, a visa issued in Sweden for example is not valid when going through the US.

Not all of the airlines has the service of providing them so you can get your visa through airlinebrokers.net and pick it up at the check-in counter.

US $ is now forbidden i Cuba, there is a 10% fee for exchanging $ so bring euros.

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