We know how to get you in and out of Cuba trouble free!
In 1963, the US attempted to ban travel to Cuba, but that was found
to violate the U.S. Constitution. So there is no law against
travel to Cuba. However, in 1982, the Reagan / Bush Administration,
introduced regulations that prohibit the spending of money in Cuba.
The Supreme Court upheld those regulations in a 5-4 vote, saying that
Cuba might use the American tourists' money for subversive activities.
Even if that were true in 1982, it is not true today! So why are
these regulations still on the books (515.560 of the Trading with the
Enemy Act)? Even the Pentagon said in May of 1999, that Cuba was
no threat to the United States or any of their other neighbors.
Every American planning on traveling to Cuba should become aware of
these laws. Knowledge is a very powerful tool when dealing with a
government such as ours that for no sensible reason does not want you to
travel to Cuba and discover the real truth for yourself.
Here are a few helpful tips:
(1) Cuba created a law to
not stamp US passports and any one living here can ask not to be
stamped as well. In the past it was a courtesy, now it is a LAW.
In the past, you could use your birth certificate and drivers license or picture ID to
enter Mexico, Nassau, Canada or for re-entering the United States.
Currently this now requires a passport as well. Since the law took effect
in Jan 07, we have not had one client out of thousands asked about the two
entry stamps, with out entry to another country. I am not telling you to
lie, some people take cruises to other countries without debark the ship,
you would not obtain another entry stamp to a third country. Many people
like the cruise simply for the boat ride! NOTE: If driving across
the border only birth certificate and drivers license is needed. This was
scheduled to change in January O8, the US government if far behind on all
of the passport request, it appears this date will be back up. Or only
proof you have applied for the passport will be needed. We will try to
update this as soon as facts are in place. please email for update if you
think it has been decided and we have not updated.
(3) Upon re-entry to the United States, there are a number of
questions you are required to answer such as: What is your name, what is
your address, what is your occupation, was the purpose of your trip
business or pleasure, which countries have you been to, and for how
long, how much money are you carrying, do you have anything to declare,
what do you have in your luggage or on your person?
If you are asked more than these normal questions, the Center for
Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild advises you to state: "I have been
advised by my counsel to not answer any further questions and to refrain
from any additional comment. Any further inquiries should be
directed to my counsel":
A "WALL OF LAWYERS" has been established to help
those being hassled or having received threatening letters or
National Lawyers Guild (Art Heitzer)
414-273-1040 Ex 12, FAX
The Center for Constitutional Rights (Michael Ratner), 212-614-6464, FAX 212-614-6499,
666 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, Email
Amnesty International has a standing offer of legal representation to
anyone that wants to legally challenge any punitive action that the
Treasury Department might want to take. They have also said that
they will declare the next American to be jailed for traveling to Cuba
to be "a prisoner of conscience".
It is a good idea to keep this information handy for easy reference
during your re-entry customs interview.
(4) We advise our Cuba traveling clients to read carefully the US
Customs and Immigration form that you completed (usually in flight),
then if you are asked more than those standard questions by U.S.
Customs or Immigration officials, simply hand them the name of your
lawyer or the CCR lawyer. Typically, that is the end of the
Remember that it is the policy of our government to try to intimidate
Americans regarding travel to Cuba or to scare you out of returning once
you have been. Also, it is up to each individual Customs or
Immigration agent as to whether or not they want to hassle you.
(5) Be sure to take some humanitarian foods or medicines and give
them to the Cuban people you meet or to the Cuban Red Cross
representative (usually the nurse at the hotel where you stay). US
law (Helms Burton Act) says in Section 1705 (b) and (c) that if you
donate humanitarian food or medicines that there are "no
restrictions" on travel. Document the giving of those gifts with a
photograph if possible. We ask that you do this not only for this law,
the Cuban people are in dire need of medicines and other donations.
Please tip your servers and people in the industry well. IF ever anyone
deserved a large tip, these people do, they may be the friendliest most
deserving you will meet in your lifetime.
(6) Many Americans try to bring home items such as Havana cigars,
Havana Club rum, T-shirts and other Cuban made items. Most get
away with it, but if the US Customs & Immigrations find them in your
luggage, they will take them away from you. The vast majority get
them into the US trouble free....but you should be warned! You can also
ship them home from your Gateway city by FedEx or other service. In
Mexico, especially use FedEx or DHL, the postal system there is extremely
(7) It is a good idea to carry some sort of money belt to keep your
extra cash and passport. Most hotels have a safe at the front desk
and the better hotels have one in the room. Carry only the amount
of money you need for the day and carry a photo copy of your passport.
Keep the original passport and extra cash in the safe. BFI, an
international bank and
Transcard of Canada are now
offering, or soon will be, sort of a credit or debit card that can be
purchased at the airport, at the bank or at the landing dock for cruise
ships. You can put as much money as you like in this account and then use
it at most tourist agencies in Cuba. When departing Cuba, just turn
it in at the airport or bank where you bought it and get your balance
returned or if you prefer, leave a few dollars to keep it active if you
plan to return to Cuba. Even better, in my opinion, donate balance to
someone you meet in Cuba who needs it more than we do in most cases.
(8) In case of an emergency like running out of money, there are
several things you can do. First, Western Union was approved in
July of 1999, to operate in Cuba. Unfortunately, most Western
Union offices in the U.S. still don't know it. Sometimes the BFI
Bank will allow advances on American credit cards in emergencies.
DHL offers overnight delivery to Cuba, perhaps international travelers
checks like Thomas Cook can be sent to you. If all fails, go to
the hotel desk and ask them to put you in touch with Trouble Asistur. This
is a Cuban agency set up to help travelers in times of need.
Sometimes they will advance you the money under certain conditions.