A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation early this year that would end all travel restrictions from the U.S. to Cuba, but what does this mean for you?
The senators backing the bill claim that lifting the travel ban could instigate change in the Communist nation. While the bill faces numerous obstacles in both the House and the Senate, the introduction of the bill is certainly an important step toward uninhibited travel between the US and Cuba. If they have their way you won’t have to furtively fly through third countries — like thousands of Americans do illegally every year, or go on culturual ecxchanges when you’re deepest idea of culture has been much else but going to the latest Katy Perry concert.
Were not offering a concession, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) said. Were simply saying that Americans should be allowed to have the right to travel wherever they would like to unless theres a compelling national security reason.
So what should you know if all Cuba travel restrictions are lifted?
1) You may not have to fly out of Miami
Currently, most authorized US-Cuba travel begins from Miami via charter flights. It is illegal for US airlines to fly to Cuba, but if the travel ban is lifted, you may be able to catch flights to Cuba from cities other than Miami. Several airlines have already expressed interest in flying to Cuba, including Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, and American Airlines.
2) You can stock up on Cuban cigars
Right now, its illegal to bring back purchased Cuban goods to the US, which is one reason why Cuban cigars are the most coveted cigars in the world. If the bill passes, you just might be able to stuff your carry-on with packs of Cuban cigarslegally! Note: You can currently bring back a limited amount of them to the U.S. — up to $100 worth of the coveted smokes.
3) You can travel for leisure, not cultural exchange trips
One of the only ways for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba is on some type of a cultural exchange trip. These legal pre-arranged trips are essentially group tours where you adhere to a structured itinerary. If the travel ban is lifted, you might just be able to go to Cuba with no strict schedules or plansyou may be able to actually go for a vacation.
4) You wont have to be visiting relatives
US citizens can travel to Cuba to visit family only with the permission of the U.S. government. In the future, it may be possible for relatives or businessmen to book a flight to Cuba without obtaining a visa first.
5) Youll be able to swipe plastic
For the US citizens who have jumped through all of the hoops and have traveled to Cuba in the past, they have had to leave their credit cards at home. US credit card companies have always blocked transactions by US customers in Cuba, but that is already changing. According to the Miami Herald, both American Express and MasterCard are getting ready to do business with Cuba, which means that you will be able to swipe your card from Havana to Santiago de Cuba without the worries of bringing cash with you.
SEE ALSO: Mastercard is coming to Cuba this March
Unrestricted travel to Cuba may not happen right away, as the senators backing the bill have acknowledged, but when it does, Americans will finally be able to visit this Caribbean nation uninhibited and imbibe in some good Cuban cigars.