Yes, people from Virginia can visit Cuba legally!
President Obama has greatly expanded legal Cuba travel opportunities for Americans. His Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued regulations allowing nearly every American to visit Cuba without applying for a license. Legal Cuba Travel provides a summary of the new Cuba travel rules for May 2017.
Good news update. New rules permit family members to accompany an American who qualifies for any of the twelve categories below. For example a doctor is traveling to Cuba to conduct research. Her spouse or son may also travel with her even though the spouse or son does not qualify under the research category. A family member is defined as any individual related to a person by blood, marriage, or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from that person or from a common ancestor. Common law or live-in companions also qualify and are considered family members too.
You can go to Cuba legally without a license or paperwork as long as your purpose of travel fits into one of these US government approved categories:
- Educational activities in Cuba for schools, including people-to-people exchanges open to everyone
- Professional research and professional meetings in Cuba
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions in Cuba
- Religious activities in Cuba
- Humanitarian projects in Cuba
- Journalistic activities in Cuba
- Family visits to close relatives in Cuba
- Activities in Cuba by private foundations, or research or educational institutes
- Any type of support for the Cuban people
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information technologies or materials
- Certain authorized export transactions including agricultural and medical products, and tools, equipment and construction supplies for private use
- Official business of the US government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
If your travel falls within one of these categories you are automatically authorized to visit Cuba legally without having to apply for a license. There is no paperwork involved. You simply arrange travel and go to the island.
US visitors are required to engage in a full time itinerary of activities related to the above categories of travel.
Purely touristic travel such as relaxation stays at all-inclusive beach resorts is prohibited.
US credit and debit cards are legal but do not yet function in Cuba. See Money matters in Cuba to prepare for Cuba’s unique currency system.
There is no limit on the amount of money you can spend in Cuba nor is there a limit on the value or quantity of items – including alcohol and tobacco products – you can bring back to the US for personal use.
If you have further questions about US government rules for legal Cuba travel you must call OFAC directly at 1-800-540-6322 or visit the OFAC website.