Step 1: FILL OUT AN APPLICATION AND AFFIDAVIT

Our goal at Common Ground is for your group to travel comfortably to Cuba and to meet the goals that you have for the experience. So we work collaboratively with you to design the program and come up with the budget that will meet your needs. Fill out an application for your group so we can start designing your trip. 

The following kinds of groups may now travel under general license:

  • Graduate and undergraduate short- and long-term study programs for credit
  • High school programs
  • Graduate research in Cuba towards a degree
  • Travel for religious purposes
  • Humanitarian organizations
  • Private foundations, educational & research organizations
  • Scientific and environmental organizations
  • Cultural and sports programs, competitions, and workshops in Cuba
  • Performance groups
  • People to People travel sponsored by non-degree granting educational organizations

See the OFAC regulations for a complete list and for guidelines for qualifying for and applying for a specific license in these and other categories. Our first step in helping to ensure your successful program in Cuba will be to obtain hotel or private home confirmations for the dates and anticipated number of participants in Cuba. As numbers of visitors to Cuba increase, we want to be sure that rooms are available for you where and when you want, or to be able to help you arrive at alternatives.

Step 2: Design a program

Common Ground has more than 30 years experience arranging exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba and specializes in customized academic and professional programs. It has long lasting relationships with many institutions in Cuba and has arranged classes, seminars and information sessions for students, professionals, and religious groups.

Common Ground arranges inclusive programs with the following pre-paid services:

  • Flights to Cuba
  • Hotel arrangements in all areas of Cuba
  • Ground and/or domestic air transportation in Cuba
  • Full itinerary of program activities
  • Academic courses and seminars
  • Visits to sites, museums, and institutions
  • Field visits and excursions
  • Guide and translation services
  • Pre-paid meals
  • Medical/evacuation insurance

… And any other services in Cuba you may need.

List of institutions wE collaborate with in Cuba:

  • Casa de las Américas
  • University of Havana
  • Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC)
  • Union of Jurists
  • José Martí Institute
  • Federation of Cuban Women (FMC)
  • Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP)
  • Cuban Council of Churches
  • Grand Synagogue of Havana
  • Group for the Development of the Capital
  • National Library of Cuba
  • Fernando Ortiz Foundation
  • International Democratic Federation of Women (FDIM)
  • Cuban Institute of Education (ICE)

Contact us to discuss program goals and price and to begin organizing your trip.

Step 3: Common Ground procedures & policies

Legal authorization to travel

All participants are required to demonstrate eligibility for travel to Cuba under the U.S. regulations through completion of a Common Ground Travel Affidavit and either copy of a specific license and letter of authorization for travel under that license or if students and accompanying faculty traveling for credit from their university towards their undergraduate or advance degree, letter from their university attesting to their travel under this status. All such paperwork must be received by Common Ground before travel documents can be released. While U.S. travel regulations have significantly loosened, all participants still are required to demonstrate eligibility for travel to Cuba under the U.S. regulations. This is a simple procedure: Complete a Travel Affidavit certifying your compliance, and then the group leader will provide a letter of certification for the group or if traveling under the rare specific license, copy of the license and letter of certification. We ask that the group leader or individual members of the group provide these documents when they first sign up and send in their deposit as the necessary prerequisite to completing the arrangements.

STEP 4: FORMS & INSTRUCTIONS TO BE COMPLETED

Travel to Cuba is different than travel to other destinations because of the U.S. Travel Restrictions. At Common Ground we have helped thousands of travelers through the process. Your group will need to provide us with certain information so we can make your trip an enjoyable and smooth experience.

DEPOSIT

Participants make a $500 deposit and send the deposit and required paperwork to Common Ground at least 60 days prior to the date of the trip. Deposit is non-refundable. If members of the group are entering on a tourist visa, participants may be substituted up to 15 days prior to date of departure. Additional fees may obtain if rooming is altered by the substitution.

Required paperwork

Deadlines

90 days prior to departure for application and deposit with late applications accepted on a space available basis 60 days prior to departure; 30 days prior to departure for final payment.

Final payment and forms of payment

Deposit is per person and may be paid by individuals by check or by credit card or by institution for the group by check, credit card or wire transfer. All credit card payments must be accompanied by a written authorization. Final invoice is issued once hotels and flights are confirmed, and payment is due upon receipt of final invoice, usually at least 15 days prior to departure and if possible 30 days prior.

Travel documents

Travel packets with documents, tickets, visas and other relevant paperwork and information are sent out within 10 days or less of receipt of final payment.

Travel insurance

Medical insurance in Cuba is provided by the flight charter company along with your ticket. Travelers entering Cuba from a country other than the U.S. must purchase travel insurance in the country from which they are traveling or in the airport on arrival in Cuba. Trip Cancellation/Interruption/Baggage insurance is not provided and is strongly recommended.  We recommend Travel Guard which has an excellent product for travel to Cuba.  Ask us for their paperwork or go online to www.travelguard.com.

Common Ground cancellation policy

If cancellation is received with advance notice of 
at least 45 days – Full refund less deposit.
at least 44 22 days – Full refund less deposit, visa and 10% of package price
at least 21 15 days – Full refund less deposit, visa and 15% of package price
at least 14 days – Full refund less deposit, visa and 30% of package price
at least 9 days – Full refund less deposit, visa, 50% of package price
therein or no show – Full forfeiture of funds paid

Air Cancellation policy follows that of airlines or charter companies.

Guarantee of Services: Charter companies reserve the right to change schedule and/or price at any time, to set limits on weight, acceptance of overweight, and fees for overweight at their discretion. Tour operators in Cuba also reserve the right to substitute hotels of equal ranking and to substitute equivalent activities when necessary due to local conditions.

Step 5: Travel documents

  • Program itinerary
  • Charter or other Cuban airline ticket
  • Land services voucher
  • Copy of legal documentation establishing qualifications for permitted travel to Cuba
  • Visa
  • Emergency Contact Information

Common Ground also provides its clients with:

  • Maps of Cuba
  • Travel tips on Cuba
  • Copies of passports and legal documentation for group leaders

To begin you group trip, please fill out our group application form.

Study Abroad

The OFAC regulations now permit programs of 10 weeks or more only for undergraduate students in Cuba. Common Ground can assist you in arranging such programs for undergraduate and graduate students at Cuba’s universities and at other academic learning centers such as Casa de las Américas and the Center for José Martí Studies, among others. We can also design research study in Cuba for graduate students, traveling either individually or in a group. These latter programs include background briefings as well as contacts, assistance and mentoring with research topics for credit towards a graduate degree.

Our Study Abroad packages include:

  • Collaborative assistance between U.S. university and Cuban academic institution to establish program
  • Assistance with understanding U.S. regulations and guidelines, and with application for appropriate licenses and permits
  • Initial planning trip(s) for faculty/staff to meet with hosting institution, inspect facilities, and gain familiarity with Cuba and the prospective plans and individuals involved
  • Assistance in development of background reading materials and presentations
  • Provision of housing, transportation where necessary, schedule development, field excursions, medical insurance, visas, English speaking guides and all other in country requirements
  • In country emergency contacts and assistance from English speaking Cuban specialists
  • Appropriate and economical transportation alternatives for participants, to Cuba and to point of departure for Cuba,
  • Coordination of regular and 24 hour emergency contact for students, parents and U.S. university administration during length of program

Please contact us for more information about how your college or university can set up a study abroad program in Cuba.