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Important information for travel to Cuba

Travel from or through the U.S. to Cuba is restricted to certain individuals and is closely regulated by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Travel for tourist activities is strictly prohibited. All customers, including international travelers with non-U.S. passports, looking to travel to Cuba on a United flight must meet some special requirements pertaining to their reason for travel, health insurance, passport and visa, and proof of return or onward travel. Before planning your trip, be sure to familiarize yourself with the requirements below so you are fully prepared to travel.

Please note that U.S. credit and debit cards currently do not work in Cuba, so it's important that you bring enough cash to last for your entire trip. You can exchange U.S. dollars for Cuban convertible pesos at the airport, hotels or exchange houses.

Permitted reasons for travel

When you book or check in for your flight, you will be asked to certify the reason for your visit. There are currently two ways to gain permission to travel to Cuba: with a general license or with a specific license.

If you meet the regulations and conditions of a general license, you will not need to apply for a specific license. There are 13 categories of general licenses related to Cuba travel:

  1. Family visits
  2. Official government business
  3. Journalistic activity
  4. Professional research or meetings
  5. Educational activities or people-to-people exchanges
  6. Religious activities
  7. Sports and public events
  8. Support for the Cuban people
  9. Humanitarian projects
  10. Research
  11. Informational materials
  12. Authorized export activities
  13. Non-immigrant Cuban National

You will not qualify for a general license if the reason for your travel is not listed above, and you will be required to apply for a specific license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). All license applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Please see the U.S. Department of the Treasury's OFAC FAQ page for more information.

Health insurance requirements

All visitors are required to have health insurance that is accepted in Cuba. In most cases, health or travel insurance policies issued in the United States are not accepted at medical facilities in Cuba, so United has included Cuban health insurance ($25 per customer) in the total cost of your ticket. Cuban health insurance is provided by ESICUBA and is valid for 30 days. If you are staying in Cuba beyond 30 days, you’ll need to purchase additional insurance to cover the remainder of your stay.

Please note that while United Airlines is facilitating the purchase of this required Cuban health insurance, United Airlines bears no liability and all matters regarding the insurance policy’s terms and limits, and health care in Cuba, are solely between the traveler and ESICUBA.

Travel document requirements

If you have a valid Cuban passport, or if your passport reflects that you were born in Cuba, please review the Cuban Consulate website for details on the additional documents you must hold in addition to your passport. Please note it may take several weeks to obtain all the necessary documents from the Cuban Consulate.

All other customers will need to obtain a Cuban entry permit or Cuban visa before travel. Please contact the Cuban Consulate in Washington, D.C., well in advance of your flight to determine which type of visa you will need for your travel.

Cuban entry permit
Most customers traveling under a general license will only need a Cuban entry permit, available for purchase at the airport.

In Houston and New York/Newark, we sell Cuban entry permits at the departure gate and collect payment before you board. You will need your passport, boarding pass and a major credit card to make your purchase. A Cuban entry permit costs $50 USD per person and is not included in the price of your airline ticket. An additional $25 USD service charge will also be collected per person by Cuba Travel Services (CTS), which administers the distribution of the entry permits.

Cuban visa issued by the Consulate
If the reason for your travel isn't covered by a Cuban entry permit, you will need a visa issued by the Cuban Consulate in Washington, D.C. Please visit the Embassy of Cuba in USA website for more information.

Additional important information for travel agencies

Travel agencies booking travel for customers must also ensure the necessary traveler certification is included in the PNR.

Documentation using SSR RFTV is required for each customer, and a different reason code for each customer is permitted if appropriate.

Reason for Travel Definition Code to accompany SSR RFTV
Family visits FAMLY
Official governmental business GOVMT
Journalistic activity JOURN
Professional research or meetings PROFL
Educational activities or people-to-people exchanges EDUCA
Religious activities RELIG
Sports and public events PERFO
Support for the Cuban people SUPRT
Humanitarian projects HUMAN
Research INSTI
Informational materials INFOR
Authorized export activities EXPRT
Non-immigrant Cuban National CUNAT
OFAC specific license LICEN (followed by license number)