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News: Been to Cuba? Latest US Entry Information

If you have previously travelled to Cuba, there is a chance you can no longer travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, i.e. with an ESTA. You may need to apply for a Tourist Visa. 

Read on for all the latest information and advice around who can and cannot travel with an ESTA if they've been to Cuba.

As there is proving to be regular movement around this topic, I will regularly update and re-date this post. 

Last Update: 25 May 2023

Well hasn't this been a controversial topic for a while! Here's everything you need to know... 


I had been 99% sure of my advice around this for quite some time, and unofficially providing that information to people over on our Instagram stories.

However, with some MASSIVE travel journalists (who I really respect!) reporting a different date to my interpretation of the rule, I was second guessing myself and putting off blogging about the subject - my worst nightmare is giving someone the wrong advice! (Hasn't happened yet, thank goodness)

Simon Calder, for example, repeatedly advised the ESTA travel ban applied to anyone having visited Cuba since March 2011. By contrast, I was sure it was January 2021. 

This had me reaching out to the CBP and US Embassy on an almost daily basis for a while. I'm sure they were sick of me! 

BUT I then obtained confirmation from both the CBP and the US Embassy in London, with them finally converging on an approved date for when you were last able to travel to Cuba without making you ineligible to travel to the USA on an ESTA (Visa Waiver), so I'm now happy to provide official, concrete advice on this below. 

Edited to add - a couple of weeks after I confirmed my advice around this, the UK Government updated their US Travel Advice web page to match, adding further confirmation for my interpretation of the rules - phew! 

My advice will be provided in the next section, and updated any time the advice changes. ⬇️

Latest Advice

I will keep this section continually updated, with the latest advice directly below: 

🚨 24 May 2023 Update - Latest Information

The UK Government have today updated their travel advice around this subject, and changed the previously advised cut-off date of January 12th to January 1st, 2023. 

✅ So...if you visited Cuba and left BEFORE January 1st 2021, you can travel to the USA on an ESTA.

❌ If you visited on or since January 1st 2021, you should NOT attempt to travel to the USA on an ESTA, and should instead apply for a Tourist Visa. 

This change hasn't been reported elsewhere, nor discussed by the CBP, but I always err on the side of caution so will be matching my advice to that of the UK Government, and changing the cut-off date by 10 days to January 1st 2021.

If you have any questions, please reach out on for the quickest response. 

1 October 2022 Update (Now outdated)

If you have been to Cuba on or since the date which then-President Trump declared Cuba a State Sponsor of Terrorism, you should NOT attempt to travel to the USA on an ESTA. 

This date was January 12th 2021*. 

So if you visited Cuba and left BEFORE January 12th 2021*, you can travel to the USA on an ESTA. If you visited on or since January 12th 2021*, you should NOT attempt to travel to the USA on an ESTA, and should instead apply for a Tourist Visa. 

This information is provided in a nice graphic format in my Instagram grid post, here

*Please read the next update, above this one, for a slight change to this

Further Information

I'm regularly asked questions like "I've visited since that date - can I just risk travelling with an ESTA? I got accepted." or "I've changed my passport since then so there's no Cuba stamp in it, can I chance it?"

I hate these questions.

Not because there's anything wrong with them, per se, just that my advice in response always has to err on the side of caution - as I can't bear the thought of anyone getting caught out, and I worry people think I'm being too rigid with the rules. 

ℹ️ However, here's the way I look at it, and how I would tackle the question if it applied to me. 

Yes, there's a chance I'll get an approved ESTA, and even make it through the border if the CBP Officer processing me didn't notice I'd previously visited Cuba within the prohibited period - either from my passport stamps or my electronic record, which he immediately has available to him on-screen after scanning my passport. 


Is it really worth the risk of getting caught, having entry denied, and being held in custody until I'm deported? To never be able to travel on an ESTA before, and likely having any Visa application now refused, as I've broken US rules? 


So that's my advice to you too. Don't risk it. 

If you have any questions around this topic, please don't hesitate to reach out and ask - the quickest way to reach me is by DM at