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Religious Cuba Trips

Information about Cuba trips for religious and humanitarian reasons

Check out our Cuba Trips Calendar for more information on legal trips to Cuba.

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The Evangelical Christian Humanitarian Outreach for Cuba, better known as ECHO Cuba offers this information for people interested to travel to Cuba for religious activities.

There are two things that have to happen in order to be able to travel to Cuba to conduct any type of religious work in Cuba:

1. You must obtain a RELIGIOUS VISA from the Cuban government. 

The Cuban government interprets religious work as anything done in the church or with the church such as preaching, evangelizing, fixing or maintenance of a church facility, conducting a seminar or workshop, helping with a ministry of the church or any such activities.  The only activities allowed without first obtaining a religious visa is attending a worship service and perhaps giving a "greeting" to the congregation from your seat.

2. Travel from the US with a US TRAVEL LICENSE either a general or a specific license provided by the US Department of State, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

To obtain a US TRAVEL LICENSE the individual or church must make an application to OFAC for such a license.  Generally the license allows the person to travel to Cuba for about 14 days maximum per trip.  There are other ways to travel with an OFAC license and this organization may be able to help you with your Cuba trip plans.

To obtain the RELIGIOUS VISA from Cuba is another story all-together. The person or church that wishes to conduct any of the functions on No. 1 (above) needs to find a host in Cuba that would be willing to REQUEST the visa on behalf of that person or church in Cuba.

When you have this host in Cuba, the traveler needs to fill out a form with relevant information and provide their Cuban host with about a $200 non-refundable fee that the host needs to pay to the Cuban Office of Religious Affairs in order to receive the visa. 

Getting the visa from the Cuba Government is not guaranteed and the traveler loses their fee if the visa is not provided. If the visa is provided then the traveler must follow the conditions of the visa or risk being expelled from the country. Also, the Cuban host will face fines if the traveler does not comply with the conditions of the visa.

Latin America Working Group

All members and staff of a U.S. religious organization may travel to Cuba on a general license as authorized by section 515.566 (a) of the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) Cuba Assets Control Regulations.

The general license authorizes members and staff of a U.S. religious organization to travel to Cuba for a full-time program of religious activities.

According to the Latin America Working Group, acceptable activities include attendance at religious services and activities that contribute to the development of a Cuban counter-part’s religious or institutional development such as:

  • Ministerial training, education, or licensing
  • Religious school development
  • Youth outreach
  • Training in or the conducting of marriage seminars
  • Construction of places of worship or other facilities for full-time use by a Cuban counterpart
  • Production and distribution of religious materials
  • Assistance in holding religious services
  • Religious preaching or teaching
  • Training or assistance in church administration

If you qualify to travel on a general license for religious organizations, you do not need to seek permission from OFAC. However, it is a requirement of the general license that you carry a letter on official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the sponsoring U.S. religious organization , confirming that they are members or staff of the organization and are traveling under the auspices of the organization to engage in religious activities in Cuba.

Cuba People to People

Religious groups, according to Cuba People to People are any "religious organization" at a local, regional or national level can easily authorize a trip. Participants "must carry with them a letter on official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the U.S. religious organization, confirming that they are members or staff and are traveling to Cuba to engage in religious activities under the auspices of the organization."

Under the US Constitution, the definition of "religious organization" or "religious activities" by a government agency is problematic. The faith and practice of established groups and communities should enable substantive trips with a broader focus than conventional worship with coreligionists.

A travel agent or tour operator can assist members of a local religious organization, or of a recognized body within it, to organize a trip to Cuba (and participate if personally affiliated).

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