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Entry to Cuba: Visas & Travel Requirements

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Stay updated with the latest travel information for your trip to Cuba!

Embarking on a journey to Cuba? Here's your guide to the latest visa requirements and travel protocols. Whether you're coming from North America, Europe, or elsewhere, we've got you covered.

tourist visa to go to cuba

Cuba visa application form

What are the visa and entry requirements to Cuba?

US Citizens

Planning a trip to Cuba as a US citizen? There are special regulations you need to be aware of. While tourism trips to Cuba aren't yet authorized, general licenses have been issued for a variety of travel categories. If you meet the requirements of the general license under which they plan to travel, you won't need to apply for another permit from the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department) for your trip.

However, it's important to note that the US Embassy in Havana and the State Department in Washington D.C do not process visa applications for trips to Cuba. If you need to apply for a visa or have any questions regarding your specific case, you should contact the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C.

And remember, certain activities may not be allowed, so it's best to check with the US embassy for information on organizations or businesses in Cuba that U.S. citizens are not allowed to engage with due to economic sanctions or other legal restrictions.

Canadian Citizens

As a Canadian citizen, you'll need a valid passport for the duration of your stay in Cuba. Make sure your passport's expiration date isn't near to avoid any travel hiccups. Depending on your trip's purpose, you may need different types of visas. If you're traveling as a tourist, you'll need a tourist visa, which can be obtained from tour operators, airlines, or a Cuban government office in Canada.

European Citizens

If you're a European citizen planning to travel to Cuba, remember that visa protocols can vary depending on your country of residence. For most European citizens, a valid passport is required during your stay in Cuba. Some countries, like Spain, require the passport to be valid for at least 6 months.

It's also important to note that if you plan to travel to the United States after visiting Cuba, you'll need a visa. This is because the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) is not sufficient for those who have traveled to Cuba before. This visa must be obtained at the Consulate General of the US Embassy in your place of residence.

Given the varying requirements, it's a good idea to contact your tour operator or travel agency to understand the specific visa requirements for your travel.

Latin American Citizens

For Latin American citizens, a valid passport is required during your stay in Cuba. You'll also need to obtain a tourist visa or tourist card for your trip. This can be processed at tourism agencies or airlines, which usually handle its issuance.

The visa is generally issued for about 90 days and can then be extended. It's also important to note that you should have travel insurance with medical coverage. 

Visa Costs: What to Expect

Visa costs can vary depending on where it's issued. Generally, prices range between $20 and $80. If you apply online, additional charges may apply, and prices can range from $110 to $150.

tourist visa to go to cuba

Jose Marti International Airport in Havana

What items can I bring to Cuba?

When packing for your trip to Cuba, you can bring personal effects, including personal phones and computers, free of charge. The range of objects you can bring to Cuba is quite wide, from musical instruments to televisions. However, some items may be subject to charges depending on Customs regulations.

Some items can be brought into the country without having to pay any import taxes. These include used personal objects, art and literature books, music discs, manufactured pharmaceutical products, and wheelchairs, among others.

However, it's crucial to be aware of prohibited items. While some of these, like explosives, drugs and narcotics, and blood derivatives, may seem obvious, others might surprise you. For instance, literature, articles or objects that are considered obscene, pornographic or that attack the general interests of the nation are also prohibited.

If you attempt to bring into the country articles that are not allowed for import, the General Customs of Cuba can exercise administrative sanctions. This means that Customs can seize those imported articles whose entry is prohibited in Cuba, as well as products that have been entered with a fraudulent declaration.

tourist visa to go to cuba

Travelers on a beach in Varadero

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Health and Vaccinations

Before you embark on your journey to Cuba, it's important to ensure you're up to date with routine vaccines. This includes vaccines against chickenpox, tetanus, influenza, rubella, and polio. In the current climate, being vaccinated against COVID-19 is also essential.

Additionally, consider getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. If your trip to Cuba includes exploring nature or venturing into rural areas away from the city center for activities such as outdoor camping, the rabies vaccine is also recommended. Travelers are also advised to consider the typhus vaccine.

Can I bring my pet to Cuba?

If you're planning to bring your pet to Cuba, there are a few requirements you need to meet. Make sure your pet has the necessary vaccines and an official health certificate. You'll also need to request a travel certificate for your pet from the Consulate or Embassy of Cuba in your country.

Written by Teresita Padrón .

Published July 2023.

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Entry Requirements

Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. However, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses for 12 categories of travel. Individuals who meet the regulatory conditions of the general license they seek to travel under do not need to apply for an additional license from OFAC to travel to Cuba. The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

For details on Cuba sanctions regulations, including fact sheets on recent changes and information about applying for an OFAC license, please visit this Department of Treasury webpage on Cuba sanctions. The Department of State also provides information on Cuba sanctions and travel restrictions on its webpage on Cuba sanctions .

In accordance with the National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba of June 2017, the State Department also publishes a list of entities and subentities that are under the control of, or act for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel and with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba – the State Department’s List of Restricted Entities and Subentities Associated with Cuba (“Cuba Restricted List”) . Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will now be prohibited from engaging in certain direct financial transactions with entities and subentities identified by the State Department on the Cuba Restricted List. Certain transactions will be excluded from this prohibition pursuant to exceptions detailed in the NSPM .

Please note that neither the U.S. Embassy in Havana nor the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. process Cuban visa applications. To apply for a Cuban visa or for any questions regarding Cuban consular services, please contact the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C.:

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba 2630 16th Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20009 Website:  http://misiones.minrex.gob.cu/en/usa Phone: (202) 797 8518 – Ext. 600

Dual Citizens

All U.S.-Cuban dual citizens should note that the Government of Cuba treats U.S. citizens born in Cuba as Cuban citizens and may subject them to a range of restrictions and obligations. The Cuban government requires U.S.-Cuban dual citizens to enter and depart Cuba using a Cuban passport. Using a Cuban passport for this purpose does not jeopardize one’s U.S. citizenship. Cuban authorities do not always notify the U.S. Embassy of the arrest of dual nationals and may deny U.S. consular officers access to them.

Footer Disclaimer This is the official website of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

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How To Get A Cuban Tourist Card or Visa (2024 Update)

tourist visa to go to cuba

Americans traveling to Cuba today are required to get a Cuba Tourist Card—also called a Tourist Visa—in almost all cases. The Cuba Tourist Card is not part of the US travel rules for Cuba, which require you to pick a legal travel category . Instead, it’s a requirement of the Cuban government for all travelers arriving on the island. 

It’s an easy formality to take care of, but it is essential. During your trip, be sure to treat your Cuban Tourist Card as you would your passport, you'll need it when you leave to return home.

The Cuba Tourist Card is required by the Cuban government and applies to almost anyone visiting Cuba from abroad. But how do you know which one you need? Where can you get it and how much will it cost? 

Read on for up-to-date information on how to get a Cuban Tourist Card in 2024. 

Want help planning your Cuba adventure? Get the help of a Cuban local to design an unforgettable itinerary for your trip. 

Table of Contents: How To Get A Cuban Tourist Card

Who needs a cuban tourist card, the difference between pink and green tourist cards, where to get the cuba tourist visa, flying from the united states, flying from mexico, canada, and other countries.

  • Contacting Your Embassy
  • Replacing Your Tourist Card

Other Requirements for Cuba Travel

Locals make planning a trip to cuba easy, more tips for cuba travel in 2024.

Travelers from every country, including the United States, need a Cuban Tourist Card to visit the island. The Cuba Tourist Card allows travelers to remain in Cuba for 30 days , and after arrival can be renewed for an additional 30 days. 

The only exceptions are for citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bosnia, China, Dominica, Grenada, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Mongolia, Namibia, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Serbia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Travelers from these countries can visit Cuba without a Tourist Card. 

Travel to Cuba under the Support for the Cuban People category still requires a Cuba Tourist Card, in addition to compliance with U.S. travel regulations.

Travelers visiting Cuba with a specific purpose, like business activities, family visits, or journalism may need to apply for a specific visa and should contact the closest Cuban embassy or consulate. 

tourist visa to go to cuba

There are two different types of Tourist Cards and it’s important to purchase the correct one. Which card a traveler needs depends on the country they are flying to Cuba from (the last airport you stopped at).

The pink Tourist Card is for travelers arriving from the United States, and the green card is for travelers arriving from any other country. The green cards are less expensive than pink cards, which range from $50-$100 USD. 

It doesn't matter what country your passport is from or what country you were originally traveling from. Your card color depends on the last place you depart from before arriving in Cuba. You will not be able to board a flight from the US to Cuba with a green Tourist Card . 

Confused? Consider messaging a local travel planner for answers to all of your questions. 

Travelers can purchase the Cuba Tourist Visa online, or they can get it through their airline, travel agent, tour company, or the Cuban embassy nearest to them. 

Buying your Tourist Card online allows you to skip the lines for Tourist Cards at the airport (especially important if you have a connecting flight to Cuba).

Several U.S. airlines now offer direct flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, and New York to Cuba. Travelers flying from the United States to Cuba have several options for where to purchase their Cuba Tourist Visa.

Purchase Online : Travelers can buy the Cuba Visa online and have it conveniently shipped to them ahead of their trip. Some travelers prefer to purchase the visa ahead of time online to avoid any hassles or last-minute issues on departure day.

For travelers arriving from the U.S. who need the pink card, we recommend using Online Tourist Card for the best rates. Online Tourist Card ships cards anywhere in the contiguous US via UPS, and there are many shipping options to choose from. 

Purchase Through Your Airline : Most U.S. airlines provide a way for travelers to purchase the Cuba Tourist Card at the airport on the day of departure, during the check-in process, or at the departure gate. 

Pricing varies depending on the airline, but typically the cost is less than ordering it online because there are no shipping fees. It’s important to check with your airline to confirm that this option is available. 

Through Travel Agents and Tour Operators : If you are using a travel agent or joining an organized tour, your agent or tour operator will often include the Cuba Tourist Visa in the total price. We recommend checking before departure to ensure you have everything you need.

If your final airport before arriving in Cuba is Mexico, Canada, or any other country, you will need to purchase the green Cuba Tourist Card. 

Even if you are a U.S. citizen, if your final stop before arriving in Cuba is outside of the United States, you will need the green Tourist Card.  

You can purchase the green tourist card online in advance. We recommend using Easy Tourist Card , which ships anywhere in the world via DHL. (There is only one shipping option.)

From Mexico : If you’re flying from Mexico to Cuba then you can buy the green Cuban Tourist Card in Cancun or Mexico City. You can do this near check-in or at the boarding gate. They are typically around $25.

From Canada : If you’re traveling from Canada , your airline may provide the green Tourist Card with your ticket. But make sure to double-check beforehand. 

From Panama : The Cuba Tourist Card is available on-site at the Panama City Airport. Copa Airlines, which runs flights from Panama City to Cuba, does not sell Cuba Tourist Cards online. However, it’s easy to purchase online and have it shipped to you in advance using a service like Easy Tourist Card . 

By Cruise Ship: Due to the June 2019 Cuba travel restrictions , American cruise ships are no longer allowed to sail to Cuba.

Contacting your Embassy

You can also purchase Cuban Tourist Cards through Cuban Embassies, but many travelers complain about slow response times for email and phone messages. Prices vary by country and embassy, and it’s often more of a hassle than using an online service, purchasing through your airline, or picking up a card at the airport. 

Replacing your Tourist Card

If you lose your Cuban Tourist Card, you must replace it before you will be allowed to depart Cuba. When you go to the airport, explain that you have lost your card. You may have to pay for a replacement. Give yourself some extra time, and expect to have to answer questions. 

It’s not the end of the world, but you’ll end up wasting a little time dealing with Cuba’s bureaucracy instead of enjoying a day exploring and experiencing Cuba's awesome things to do . To avoid a huge hassle, keep your Tourist Card tucked into your U.S. passport . Also, be sure to carry your passport with you at all times, a Cuba travel safety best practice.

Yes, as an American, you should make sure that when planning a trip to Cuba, you have all of the necessary documents. Here’s what you will need to do:

Pick Your Travel Category - You’ll need to choose a travel category that fits with your planned activities for the trip. Learn about the different categories Americans can use for their travel to Cuba.

Make an Itinerary - Your itinerary serves as proof upon return that you’ve complied with the guidelines of the travel category you chose. 

Health Insurance - You are required to purchase Cuban health insurance before entering Cuba, but if you're flying from the U.S., check with your airline to see if the insurance is included in your ticket purchase. If not, you can purchase it beforehand or at the airport when you land, before passing customs.

Health Declaration Form - This form is required to monitor and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Planning a trip to Cuba can be complicated.  At the end of the day, no one knows a place  like the people who live there . Local knowledge can always enrich a trip, but it’s especially helpful when there are legal restrictions involved. 

Rules for Americans are complicated — and ever-changing — and require extra research. That’s why we set up travelers with Cuban locals — so that they could help travelers through the process. 

Plus, travelers then get tons of local advice about what to do, see, eat, and explore once they arrive. 

All of this information can be difficult to find online. But when you talk to a local who actually lives in Cuba, they can help guide you through current travel restrictions. Plus, they can answer your questions so you know what your options are, and can make the best decisions for what works for you. 

Not only can our Cuban trip planners design a trip that fits your travel style, but they’ll also design one that matches your budget and interests. Plus, they have inside expertise will make navigating travel much easier than if you go it alone. 

Ready to have a local plan your trip to Cuba?  Connect with a local today to learn more.

Start Planning Now : Don’t dally! Things in Cuba book up fast. As a limited number of businesses advertise online, everyone is looking at the same resources. It is best to have one of our  local travel experts   arrange your trip. They will use their connections to secure accommodations, restaurants, tours, transportation, and more. You won’t have to worry about the headache of everything filling up before you arrive.  

Decide When To Go : Do you want to see a certain festival? Avoid hot temperatures? Miss the rain?   Plan your timeline wisely !

Book Your Flight : Spend time researching your flights before booking anything. If you are traveling from the United States, many airlines are now fly directly into Cuba. But there are some benefits to flying in from another country, like   Mexico . 

Find a Casa Particular : Forget about hotels in Cuba — they are overpriced and dingy. Staying with a local family in a   casa particular   will provide the most comfortable and immersive trip.

Decide Where You're Going : Havana is intoxicating, but there are plenty of other parts of the island to see. Consider traveling to cities like Trinidad or Viñales. Our   Heroes  can suggest cities that are worthwhile to visit during your trip.

Start Practicing Spanish : If you don’t speak any Spanish, you may find it difficult to navigate during your trip. If you have time, start brushing up on some basic phrases. It will be much appreciated by locals you meet. 

Figure Out Your Money Situation :  Cash  is king in Cuba. ATMs are difficult to find, and they do not take US cards. Plan on bringing enough cash to last your entire trip — yes, your   entire   trip. Be safe about where you store it. Don’t keep it in one place, and never carry all of it on you at once.

Get your Tourist Card / Visa : The Cuban government requires you to buy a  Cuban Tourist Card  to enter Cuba (not actually a  visa , though the two words are sometimes used interchangeably). The easiest way to get your Cuban Tourist Card is online in advance through sites like  Online Tourist Card , but you can also buy one from your airline (contact your air carrier to find out where an how to purchase).

Prepare to Disconnect : The   internet   is basically nonexistent in Cuba…and it is better that way! Consider this your digital detox. Let your work and family know you will be mostly out of reach.

Check out our articles on getting a Cuba General License and how you can still travel to Cuba . Then, start preparing for your Cuba adventure .

  • Connect With a Local to Plan Your Trip
  • You Can Still Travel to Cuba: 2024 Update
  • New Cuba Travel Policy Updates
  • Independent Havana Tours

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How to Get the Cuba Visa You Need (Online!)

Did you know that almost every visitor to Cuba needs some kind of Cuba visa? For most it’s a Cuba tourist visa or a Cuban tourist card obtained prior to arrival. It’s surprising to many, so don’t get caught surprised at the departure gate before your flight to Cuba!

Thankful, most travelers won’t need to send a special application for a visa prior to booking their tickets. Keep reading for the easiest (and cheapest) ways to get your Cuban tourist visa – plus, who needs a more specialized visa to Cuba for certain activities.

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This post contains affiliate links that may reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases – at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please read our  disclosure policy .

Almost every traveler to Cuba will need a Cuban tourist visa. Also known as a Cuban tourist card or Cuba travel card , you’ll need to present this tourist visa at immigration when you enter and exit Cuba.

Only Cuban citizens and those travelers with other types of Cuban visas (like student visas, business visas, or family visas) will not need to present a Cuban tourist visa upon arrival in Cuba.

Do I Need a Visa to Visit Cuba?

While every visitor needs a visa, only a very limited few will need to apply for a Cuban visa in advance , before booking tickets and planning their trip to Cuba. Most travelers will be able to purchase their Cuban tourist visas before arriving in Cuba.

Those that must apply for a tourist visa in advance are from a select few Asian and African countries – that list can be found here . Check out this account from an Indian blogger about special requirements and procedures for the Cuba visa requirements for Indian citizens .

Most travelers to Cuba simply need to book their tickets to Cuba and plan on purchasing their Cuban tourist visa before arriving in Cuba.

Jump ahead to the following sections in this article to learn about the three most common ways to get a tourist visa for Cuba:

  • Getting your Cuba visa online;
  • Getting your Cuba visa from airlines;
  • Cuban embassy visa processing.

Do Americans Need a Visa for Cuba?

Yes! Citizens of the United States need a tourist visa for Cuba. The government of Cuba requires that ALL visitors to the island have a tourist visa – also known as a tourist card – before arriving. There is no special Cuba visa for Americans; everyone needs the same tourist visa!

The special regulations regarding the travel of citizens of the United States to Cuba come from the government of the United States, not the government of Cuba.

If you’re traveling to Cuba from the United States, there are some important regulations you should be aware of. Check out our series of articles written specifically for travelers to Cuba from the United States , regarding details about legal travel to Cuba for American citizens:

  • Can Americans Travel to Cuba?
  • A Guide to Legal Travel to Cuba: Support for the Cuban People Travel for Americans
  • Best Activ ities for Legal Travel to Cuba

Read More for Travel to Cuba

  • The Best VPN for Cuba (And Why You Shouldn’t Travel Without One)
  • The Ultimate Guide to Varadero, Cuba
  • How Much Money Should I Bring to Cuba?
  • Best Beaches in Cuba

Cuban Tourist Visas vs. Cuban Tourist Cards

Many people refer to the Cuban tourist visa as the Cuban tourist card , or the Cuban travel card. Confusingly, these different phrases all refer to the same document.

Most visitors to Cuba will only need this one tourist visa / tourist card to enter the country! You won’t need to apply for this visa with the Cuban government ahead of time – just purchase it before entering the country.

Jump down further in this article by clicking below to read about the three most common ways to purchase tourist visas to travel to Cuba:

  • Get a Cuban visa online – EasyTouristVisa
  • Get your Cuban visa from airlines
  • Get a Cuban embassy visa

For even more information about the Cuban tourist visa and tourist card, check out this article clarifying a bit more about the difference.

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Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling to Cuba without a good  VPN (Virtual Private Network) . Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers.  We’ve used  NordVPN  for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, especially in Cuba. 

Cuban Tourist Visa

Cuban tourist visas are required for most travelers to Cuba who are not Cuban citizens or don’t have another visa status in Cuba (a student visa, permanent residency, etc).

Thankfully, visas to travel to Cuba are very easy to get . Most travelers to Cuba get their Cuba visa before they travel, either online through the EasyTouristVisa website , or from their airline, if possible.

Since there is no option for a Cuba visa on arrial, you’ll have to get your visa before you land in the country.

How Much Does a Cuban Visa Cost?

The Cuban tourist visa does not have one fixed price – it varies depending on how and where you get it. The cost of a Cuban tourist visa also varies based on which type of tourist visa for Cuban you’ll need – either a pink tourist visa or a green tourist visa.

Pink Tourist Visas

Pink tourist visas are required for travelers arriving in Cuba on a flight from the United States (regardless of whether the traveler is a citizen of the United States or another country).

These pink tourist visas generally cost between $50-110 .

Green Tourist Visas

Green tourist visas are for travelers arriving in Cuba from any country other than the United States. These green tourist visas generally cost between $20-50.

If ordering your visa online from EasyTouristVisa , make sure you select the correct visa type – either pink or green – depending on where you’ll be traveling from. Prompts on the website will guide you to make the right choice if you have any questions.

If you will be purchasing your tourist visa from your airline prior to departure, they’ll be prepared to offer you the visa color you’ll need.

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Best Places To Stay in Havana

  • Casa Giraldilla ($) 
  • Casa Flamboyan ($ – $$) 
  • Residencia Santa Clara ($$) 
  • El Candil Boutique Hotel ($$ – $$$) 
  • La Reserva Vedado ($$$) 

How To Get a Cuban Visa

How can i apply for a cuban visa.

There are several ways to get the Cuban tourist visa card required before you arrive in Cuba – some more challenging than others. You can get yours one of three ways:

  • Get your Cuba visa online from the EasyTouristVisa website
  • Get your Cuban visa from your airline

Keep scrolling for the details about these three ways to get a Cuba travel visa, and why I recommend getting yours online!

Cuba Visa Online

Can you get a cuba visa online.

Cuba does not currently offer an online “e-visa” version of the tourist visa. You must have an official, physical tourist visa that you will present in immigration when arriving in the country.

However, you can obtain the Cuban visa online before your trip and have it sent to your home before you travel. I recommend looking into EasyTouristVisa as the most convenient way to get your tourist visa!

Cuba Visa Services

EasyTouristVisa offers Cuban tourist visas that can be ordered online and shipped to your home before you depart for Cuba.

This service offers either pink tourist cards or green tourist cards, depending on your travel needs, and is a reliable and convenient way to secure visas to travel to Cuba.

Cuban Visa from Airlines

Another way to get a Cuban tourist visa card is from the airline you’ll be flying to Cuba with. Each airline is responsible for making sure its travelers have a tourist visa before boarding a flight to Cuba, so they’ll generally offer the Cuban tourist visa for sale.

Most airlines offer these tourist visas for sale through their website after booking, and others may offer them prior to boarding the plane.

Each airline offers Cuban tourist visas at different prices. Some airlines include the cost of the tourist visa in the price of the airline ticket!

Americans Airlines Cuba Visa

The tourist visa from American Airlines costs $85 if purchased online through the airline prior to your flight, or $125 if purchased at the airport during check-in or at your gate.

Delta Cuba Visa

The Delta Cuba visa costs $50 – currently, there is no way to secure the tourist visa online with Delta, but passengers are generally able to get the tourist visa at their gate prior to departing if they have not secured it beforehand.

Jetblue Cuba Visa

The Jetblue Cuba visa costs $50 and is generally issued at the boarding gate before departing. You will be required to show your Cuban tourist visa before boarding.

Copa Airlines Cuba Visa

Copa Airlines Cuba visas generally cost $20, though the airline has been charging up to $30 for the tourist visa at some of the airports where its flights depart for Cuba.

Copa only serves passengers flying to Cuba from countries other than the United States, so it only offers green tourist cards.

Air Canada Cuba Visa

Air Canada is an airline that includes the cost of the Cuba visa in the price of its ticket. Tourist cards are distributed to passengers in-flight, along with the customs and immigration forms you’ll need when you arrive in Cuba.

Cuban Embassy Visa

A final way to secure your Cuban tourist visa prior to traveling to Cuba is through your nearest Cuban embassy. Visit the website of the Cuban embassy in your country for country-specific details about how to get a visa for Cuba.

My Recommendation

I don’t recommend seeking a tourist visa from a Cuban embassy. Instead, plan on getting it from EasyTouristVisa or from your airline. It can involve jumping through many more hoops and take much longer if processed through an embassy than it otherwise would.

Remember, it’s only required that you pre-apply for a Cuban tourist visa through an embassy if you’re from a small list of Asian and African countries . If you aren’t from one of these countries you’re free to purchase your tourist visa card online or through your airline.

What to Pack for Cuba

Check out our  Ultimate Cuba Packing List   to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Cuba and what we never travel without.

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How To Get a Visa for Cuba

Apply for a cuban tourist visa.

If you are from one of the few countries whose citizens are required to apply for a tourist visa at their nearest Cuban embassy, you’ll start the process by contacting your embassy.

Make sure you visit the website specific to the Cuban embassy that serves your country . While the process generally starts out the same – with an application to the embassy – the requirements for each country vary.

If You Need a Different Type of Visa

For those looking for other visas to Cuba – not the standard tourist visa, the website of the Cuban embassy in your country is the way to start this process. Most of these processes can only be done prior to departing for Cuba.

Some common visa types include:

  • Family Visa (A-2) – Note: This visa can be obtained upon arriving as a tourist in Cuba by adjusting your visa status at a government office.
  • Journalist Visa (D-6)
  • Business Visas
  • Specialized Visa Types: student visas, visas to receive medical treatment in Cuba, etc.

Carley Rojas Avila

Carley Rojas Avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Home to Havana and Explorers Away. She is a serial expat and traveler, having visited 40+ countries and counting. Carley has written for publications like Travel + Leisure, MSN, Associated Press, Weather Channel, Wealth of Geeks, and more. Find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.

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Travel Advisory January 5, 2024

Cuba - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Reissued with updates to crime information.

Exercise increased caution in Cuba due to  crime .

Country Summary:  Petty crime is a threat for tourists in Cuba. Also, violent crime, including armed robbery and homicide, sometimes occurs in Cuba.

Travel outside of the Havana area for U.S. Embassy employees requires a special notification process which may affect the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in Cuba.

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to Cuba.

If you decide to travel to Cuba:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

U.S. citizens should always exercise caution when traveling abroad:

  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter .
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for Cuba.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .

Embassy Messages

View Alerts and Messages Archive

Quick Facts

Must have six months validity at the time of entry.

Two pages are required for entry/exit stamps.

Yes. Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. See 31 C.F.R 515.560 and OFAC's Frequently Asked Questions .

None. See CDC for recommendations.

U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. You should bring U.S. dollars or Euros to Cuba and exchange them for Cuban Pesos (CUP) at authorized banks, CADECA offices, airports or hotels. Travelers should confirm alternative payment options before traveling, as policies concerning the use of U.S. dollars in Cuba are subject to change. The Cuban government requires that travelers declare cash amounts over the equivalent of 5,000 USD.

When departing Cuba, we advise U.S. travelers to spend or exchange CUP to a foreign currency well before reaching airport security checkpoints. Currency exchange houses in the departure area at airports are currently closed and Cuban pesos are not internationally convertible outside of Cuba.. International airlines flying to the United States include departure fees and taxes in the price of airline tickets. U.S. dollars are not accepted for payment of any additional products purchased at the airport. Under Cuban law, travelers may export up to the equivalent of 5,000 USD out of the country. Anyone wishing to depart Cuba with more than this amount of cash must demonstrate evidence that the currency was acquired legitimately from a Cuban bank.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado, Havana, Cuba Telephone:  + (53) (7) 839-4100 (Monday- Friday 0830-1630, except holidays) Emergency after-hours telephone:  + (53) (7) 839-4100 and dial 1 to speak with the emergency operator Fax:  + (53) (7) 839-4247 Website:  https:cu.usembassy.gov

Email:   [email protected] (for concerns with U.S. citizens)

Destination Description

Learn about the U.S. relationship to countries around the world.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Travel to Cuba from or transiting through the United States by persons under U.S. jurisdiction (defined as [BE1] U.S. citizens located anywhere, and anyone located in the United States regardless of citizenship and nationality) , is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  All travelers falling under U.S. jurisdiction must comply with these regulations.  Individuals seeking to travel to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered under the 12 travel categories authorized by a general OFAC license.  If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license .  Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution.  For travel-specific questions, please see  31 C.F.R. 515.560  and  OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions .

Visit the  Embassy of Cuba  website for the most current visa information.

Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which is usually included in airline ticket prices on flights originating in the United States. If you do not have insurance, it can be purchased upon arrival to Cuba at an airport kiosk.  Asistur Medical Insurance is the official company that airlines contract.  Please confirm your coverage with your airline prior to arrival in Cuba and seek additional medical insurance if needed.

Cuba does not recognize the U.S. citizenship of Cuban-born U.S. citizens who maintain residency status in Cuba.  The Cuban government requires Cuban dual nationals to enter and depart Cuba using Cuban passports. Cuban-born U.S. citizens who maintain their residency status in Cuba will be treated as Cuban citizens and may be subject to Cuban restrictions and legal obligations.  

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Cuba.  Foreign students on scholarships are required to test for HIV/AIDS.  Please verify this information with the  Embassy of Cuba  before you travel.

Information about  dual nationality , the  prevention of international child abduction , and  customs regulations  can be found on our websites. 

Cuban Requirements for Authorized Travelers:   Attempts to enter or exit Cuba illegally, or to aid the irregular exit of Cuban nationals or other persons, are prohibited.  Entering Cuban territory, territorial waters, or airspace without prior authorization from the Cuban government may result in arrest.  Immigration violators are subject to prison terms ranging from four to thirty years. 

Temporary Sojourn License:  Most aircraft and maritime vessels on temporary sojourn to Cuba are no longer eligible for an Aircraft, Vessels, and Spacecraft (AVS) License Exception.  See 15 C.F.R. § 740.15.  If you are planning to enter Cuba with a U.S. or foreign-registered aircraft or maritime vessel on temporary sojourn, you must meet the criteria set forth in 15 C.F.R. § 740.15. Please see the U.S. Department of Commerce’s  Bureau of Industry and Security website  for additional information. 

In addition, a vessel of the United States, as defined in 33 C.F.R. §107.200, may not enter Cuban territorial waters without advance permission from the U.S. Coast Guard.  The U.S. Coast Guard provides permission information at (305) 415-6920. 

Safety and Security

The security environment in Cuba is relatively stable and characterized by a strong military and police presence.  Demonstrations are infrequent but can draw violent responses from government forces.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational without warning.  Avoid demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Demonstration Alerts are posted on the  Embassy’s website .  Review the  Cuba Travel Advisory .

The Cuban government has detained U.S. citizens suspected of engaging in activities perceived to undermine state security.  The Cuban government may detain individuals for activities that would not be considered criminal or offensive in the United States.

Crime:   With the recent influx of travelers, there has been an increase in the number of property crimes. Crimes of opportunity, such as pick pocketing, purse snatchings, and car break-ins, are on the rise. Exercise vigilance everywhere . Do not display large amounts of cash.  Do not leave your valuables unattended.  Carry money in your front pockets, hold your purse and cellular phone securely and be mindful of purses or bags when dining out. 

  • Do not leave a beverage unattended or accept beverages from persons unknown to you. 
  • Locations such as Habana Vieja, Playas del Este, Varadero, and other attractions tend to have a higher incidence of property crime than other parts of Cuba. 
  • Be wary of misdirection schemes where someone attempts to gain your attention while another comes from behind to steal your purse, wallet, or other valuable items. 
  • If confronted by criminals, do not resist, try to remain calm, clearly display your hands and do not make any sudden moves that could be interpreted as resistance. 
  • Carry a cell phone with Cuban cellular service for emergency communications and travel in groups if possible. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night or when traveling in an unfamiliar area. 
  • While in your car, place valuables out of sight or in a locked trunk.  When unattended, avoid leaving items in the car, especially on the seat or in plain view.
  • Only use marked taxis. 
  • Carry a copy of your passport and secure the original. 
  • Beware of scam artists, who may speak English and appear friendly. 
  • When exchanging currency, use the state-run offices known as CADECAs or official banks.

International Financial Scams:  See the  Department of State  and the  FBI  pages for information. 

Victims of Crime:   We strongly urge U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.  Report crimes to the local police by dialing 106 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +53 7839-4100.  Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. 

See our webpage on  help for U.S. victims of crime overseas . 

We can: 

  • help you find medical care 
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police 
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent 
  • provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion 
  • provide a list of local attorneys 
  • provide information on  victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution 
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home 
  • replace a stolen or lost passport 

Domestic Violence:   U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are strongly encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism:   The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur.  Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field.  In the event of an injury, even basic medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities.  First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment.  U.S. citizens should maintain health insurance in Cuba.  If stays exceed 30 days, [CM1] U.S. citizens should purchase medical insurance when they process their visa extensions.   See our webpage for more  information on insurance providers for overseas coverage . 

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on  crimes against minors abroad  and the  Department of Justice  website.

Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.  See our  webpage  for further information.

Cuban penalties for the following are particularly severe: 

  • Possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs. 
  • Suspicion of assisting Cubans to leave the country illegally. 
  • Drivers involved in accidents that result in injury or death, regardless of fault. 
  • Importing weapons or ammunition. 
  • Photographing military or police installations or personnel, or harbor, rail, or airport facilities. 
  • Crimes against minors.

The Government of Cuba does not recognize the U.S. citizenship of Cuban-born U.S. citizens who maintain residency in Cuba and may not allow U.S. consular access to Cuban-American prisoners. 

Telecommunications:  Many U.S. mobile service carriers provide roaming services in Cuba.  Your U.S. mobile phone will work in Cuba if your mobile phone is capable of roaming in Cuba and your mobile service provider has an international roaming agreement with ETECSA, Cuba's state-owned telecommunications provider.  Currently AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile have roaming agreements with ETECSA. Wi-Fi is often slow and unreliable. Be sure to confirm your carrier’s coverage before traveling.

SIM cards with a data plan can be purchased at Havana-José Martí International Airport (HAV) and local ETESCA telecommunications offices. To ensure family and friends can reach you in Cuba, check with your mobile provider about roaming options and cost or purchase a Cuban SIM card. See the  FCC Travel FAQs  for more information. 

Cuba-related Travel Transactions:  Only persons whose travel falls into the 12 OFAC approved travel categories or who have received a specific license from OFAC are authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to travel to, from, or within Cuba.  Direct financial transactions with certain entities and sub-entities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services are also generally prohibited. For more information see the Department of State’s ﷟ Cuba Restricted List .  Additionally, lodging, paying for lodging, or making reservations on behalf of others to lodge, at certain accommodations in Cuba are prohibited; for a full list of such accommodations, see the Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List .   For more information about licenses, visit OFAC’s  Cuba Sanctions website .   Additionally, lodging, paying for lodging, or making reservations on behalf of others to lodge, at certain accommodations in Cuba are prohibited; for a full list of such accommodations, see the Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List .   For more information about licenses, visit OFAC’s  Cuba Sanctions website . 

Licenses for Remittances:   In June 2022, OFAC published updated Cuba-related regulations .  The new regulations eliminated a cap on remittances to family members in Cuba, and authorized remittances to non-family recipients as well.  Certain Prohibited Officials of the Government of Cuba , Prohibited Members of the Cuban Communist Party , and the close relatives of these two groups, are not eligible to receive remittances.  For information on remittance authorizations, see OFAC’s  Cuba Sanctions website .

What May Be Brought Back From Cuba:  Importation of Cuban merchandise for commercial purposes is restricted, with very limited exceptions.  Certain imports of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs are authorized, as set forth on the Department of State’s  Section 515.582 List  (see 31 C.F.R 515.582).  There are no limits on the import or export of informational materials.  For more information related to imports, including merchandise entering the United States for personal use as accompanied baggage, please see the  CBP Public Notice .

Cuban law requires foreigners to obtain authorization to remove souvenir paintings and sculptures out of Cuba. Most authorized points of sale, such as galleries and art studios, should be familiar with this process and should provide the proper documentation at the time of purchase.  You can also apply for an export permit via the Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets. Travelers without a valid export permit may have their items confiscated at the port of departure. The U.S. Embassy cannot assist in these cases.  For more information, please see the  Cuban Customs Authority website . 

Travelers may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption in Cuba, but may not enter the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba. Persons subject to United States jurisdiction may purchase or acquire Cuban-origin merchandise for personal consumption, including alcohol and tobacco products, while in a third country, but may not import such products into the United States.  For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, see  31 CFR § 515.585(c) and (d).

Storm Season:  Tropical storms and hurricanes between May and November can produce heavy winds and rain. See our  hurricane season page  for more information.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See the following webpages for details:

  • Faith-Based Travel Information
  • International Religious Freedom Report  – see country reports
  • Human Rights Report  – see country reports
  • Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad

LGBTI Travelers:  There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Cuba, and on September 26, 2022 Cubans passed the referendum legalizing same sex marriage.

See   our  LGBTI Travel Information   page and section 6 of our  Human Rights report  for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance .  Individuals with mobility issues are likely to find accessibility difficult .   Few facilities or services are available, and information is limited. Most roads and sidewalks are poorly maintained.

Students:   See our  Students Abroad  page and  FBI travel tips .

Women Travelers:   See our travel tips for  Women Travelers .

Currency Restrictions:  Be advised that policies concerning the use and convertibility of U.S. dollars in Cuba are subject to change.  Obtaining U.S. dollar cash is nearly impossible through official channels.  The Cuban Central Bank prohibits certain U.S. dollar cash transactions, including conversion of U.S. dollars to Cuban pesos, the use of U.S. dollars for cash payments, including in government-run establishments such as hotels and restaurants, and the purchase of pre-paid debit cards.. U.S.-issued credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba.  Travelers should bring sufficient cash for the duration of their trip, and consider bringing multiple currencies, such as Euros.

For emergency services in Cuba, dial: 

  • 104 for an ambulance or contact the nearest  hospital  directly
  • 105 for fire 
  • 106 for police 

Ambulance services are

  • not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas
  • not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment
  • not staffed with trained paramedics and often have little or no medical equipment

Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

We do not pay medical bills.   Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas.  Hospitals and doctors in Cuba do not accept U.S. health insurance.  Most hospitals require payment up front before services are rendered.

Medical Insurance:   Ensure your airline ticket includes health insurance.  Cuba requires all U.S. airlines departing the United States to pay for health insurance for each passenger.  The health insurance from airlines is valid for 30 days upon your arrival in Cuba.  If you are planning to stay in Cuba for more than 30 days, you will need to extend your coverage before you can extend your visa.   It is important to keep a record of your arrival into Cuba, such as your airline ticket, so that the Asistur agency can coordinate with the hospital on payment MEDEVAC flights from Cuba are difficult to arrange, with costs starting at $15,000 U.S. dollars.  Visit the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Ensure you have all medicine you require for your time in Cuba.  Medicine (prescription and over the counter) is not readily available in Cuba.  Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.  Check with the  General Customs Office of Cuba  to ensure the medication is legal in Cuba.  Note: This site is in Spanish only.

Diarrheal illness is common among travelers, even in luxury accommodations.  Travelers should wash their hands, drink bottled water, and avoid street and undercooked food.

The following diseases are prevalent: 

  • Dengue Fever 
  • Hepatitis-A 
  • Traveler’s diarrhea 
  • Chikungunya 
  • Typhoid 
  • Rabies 
  • Zika Virus 

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific medical issues in  Cuba . 

Vaccinations:  Be up to date on all  vaccinations  recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

  • World Health Organization
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC)

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals  here .  We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Pharmaceuticals:  Even the most common over the counter medications are unavailable in Cuba. Other medication, medical equipment or supplies are also unavailable on the island.  If you are able to find medicine, exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Counterfeit medication may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients.  Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States.  Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States.  Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States.  Please visit the  U.S. Customs and Border Protection  and the  Food and Drug Administration  websites for more information.

Water Quality:  Tap water is not potable.  Bottled water is often unavailable for purchase and you should be aware that some restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.

General Health Issues

  • There are severe shortages of food, potable water, medicine, medical supplies, etc.  throughout Cuba.
  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about  Resources for Travelers  regarding specific issues in Cuba.

Air Quality:  Air pollution is a problem in several major cities in Cuba. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary. Visit  AirNow Department of State  for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:  Road accidents, many involving pedestrians and bicyclists, are Cuba’s leading cause of death.  Cuban authorities may prohibit drivers from leaving the country until claims associated with an accident are settled.  Drivers found responsible for accidents resulting in serious injury or death may receive long prison sentences.  U.S. citizen drivers are often found at fault for accidents they are involved in. 

Drive with extreme care.  Major streets are generally well-maintained, but secondary streets are not.  Major potholes and obstacles are common on all roads.  After heavy rains in 2022, several bridges collapsed.  Damaged bridges may not be well marked.  

Outside of major cities, avoid driving at night as many roads are unlit. Emergency lights or signals are rare, making it virtually impossible to detect hazards after dark.  Street signage is insufficient and confusing. Many Cuban cars are old, in poor condition, and lack reliable safety equipment.  Heed caution throughout the country as there are rolling blackouts which may leave streets dark and without traffic lights, even in major cities.

The principal Cuban east-west highway is in good condition but extends only part of the way from Havana to the eastern end of the island.  Hazards – including unfenced livestock and farm vehicles – are common. 

When traveling by road, you should carry a printed map of the area, as electronic (smartphone) maps frequently fail due to connectivity issues.

Traffic Laws:   Speed limits are sometimes posted and passengers in automobiles are required to wear seatbelts, if available.  All motorcyclists are required to wear helmets.  Traffic from major roads generally does not stop when entering roundabouts.  Use care at intersections: stop signs are often hard to see. 

Public Transportation: 

Buses designated for tourist travel, both between and within cities, generally meet international standards.  

The public bus and rail system in Cuba is under-resourced and in poor condition.  Public buses used by Cubans, known as "guaguas," are crowded, unreliable, and are sometimes preyed upon by petty criminals. There is a heightened threat of pickpocketing on crowded buses and trains. Embassy personnel are advised not to use public transportation.

Avoid using informal taxis or hailing private vehicles for rides as they are unregulated, the vehicles are often in disrepair, and usually do not have normal vehicle safety equipment such as seat belts and air bags.  “Cocos,” smaller, yellow ball-shaped “tuk-tuk” style vehicles, are not safe, and the Embassy advises its personnel not to use them.

Rental car agencies provide roadside assistance to their clients as a condition of rental contracts.  Travelers should not permit unauthorized persons to drive their rental vehicles.

See our  Road Safety page  for more information.

Aviation Safety Oversight:   As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Cuba, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Cuba’s Civil Aviation Authority under its International Aviation Safety Assessment program (IASA) for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the  FAA’s IASA website.  The U.S. Embassy in Havana prohibits U.S. government personnel from using any commercial airline for domestic flights within Cuba due to safety concerns.  The Embassy does not authorize government personnel to travel via Cubana Airlines.

Maritime Travel:  Mariners planning travel to Cuba should also check for  U.S. maritime advisories and alerts .  Information may also be posted to the  U.S. Coast Guard homeport website , and the  NGA broadcast warn ings .

For additional travel information

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • See the  State Department’s travel website  for the  Worldwide Caution  and  Travel Advisories .
  • Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook .
  • See  traveling safely abroad  for useful travel tips.

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Cuba .  For additional IPCA-related information, please see  the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA)  report.

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Everything you need to know about Cuban visas

Everything you need to know about Cuban visas

The names they go by and the different types that exist!

What is the difference between a Cuban visa and a tourist card? Can I apply for a Cuban visa with a U.S. passport? Will I need to travel to Cuba with a different visa if flying from the U.S.? What is the difference between a pink card and a green card? How many different types of visas are there to enter Cuba? We understand that when it comes to the legal documentation required to enter Cuba it can all become a bit too confusing for most people, so we're here to clear things up and break it all down to simple terms that are easy to understand.

The document you'll need to enter Cuba is known by multiple names – Cuban visa, tourist card, pink card, green card... It can get confusing, right? That's why we're here to dispel myths and explain it all in simple terms. Yes, you can travel to Cuba without a visa (if you hold a passport from any of the countries listed further down below) and the most common type of Cuba visa is actually a tourist card, it's just the fact that many people call it Cuba visa that makes it confusing. To add to the confusion, there is actually such a thing as a Cuba visa, but only a few African and Middle Eastern countries require a Cuban visa instead of the more common Cuban tourist card.

Untangling the Cuban visa/Cuban tourist card confusion

There is more to travelling to Cuba than getting a visa. In fact, getting a Cuban tourist visa can be the easiest, most straightforward part of your trip (especially if do it through us!) but many people are confused about the jargon and the different names used to refer to a Cuban visa (early clue, that's not what it's actually called!). Let's start untangling the mess and setting facts right in 3, 2, 1...

What do I need? Pink card visa or green card visa to enter Cuba?

If you travel to Cuba from the U.S. the type of Cuban tourist card you'll need is different, and more expensive, than the ordinary green Cuba Tourist Card. If you're flying to Cuba directly from a U.S. airport, you'll need to request a pink card, which looks almost exactly the same as the green Cuba Tourist Card but is only for those who fly to Cuba from the U.S. Please do not confuse the need for a pink Cuba Tourist Card with holding a U.S. passport. You can be a U.S. passport holder but if you travel to Cuba from any country other than the U.S. you can apply for the cheaper green Cuba tourist card instead.

Ultimately, the colour of your card depends on the last place you depart from before arriving in Cuba. So, for example, if you start your journey in the U.S. but then stop in another country before arriving in Cuba, you can travel to Cuba with a green tourist card instead. It's only if you depart directly from the U.S. before landing in Cuba and you arrive back to the U.S. from Cuba that you'll need the pink card. Please remember that you will not be allowed to board a flight from the U.S. to Cuba with a green tourist card, and vice-versa!

A Cuban visa or a tourist card?

If you're wondering whether you'll need a Cuba tourist card or a Cuban visa to enter Cuba, the answer is that both terms are widely used interchangeably to mean the same. But they're actually different. Most people refer to the Cuban tourist card as a Cuban visa, but a Cuban visa is rarely needed. Only a minority of countries (around 25 nationalities), like we explained earlier, will need to apply for a Cuban visa instead of a Cuban tourist card.

Who needs a Cuban visa?

If you hold a passport from any European country, rest assured that you'll need the ordinary Cuba Tourist Visa, to enter Cuba. If you're not from Europe or the Americas, you might need a visa, basically if you're either from the following countries you will need to apply for a Cuba visa:

  • Afghanistan
  • Philippines
  • Sierra Leone
  • Natives of the Fujian Province in China

Visa exemptions and entry regulations change from time to time so that some countries may be removed or added from this list. If in doubt, get in touch or give us a call!

Who can apply for a Cuban tourist card?

As we were saying, the vast majority of nationalities do not need a Cuban visa to enter Cuba and need only apply for a Cuban tourist card, which, unlike Cuban visas, can be requested and processed online by accredited companies (like ours) in a few simple steps.

If you hold a European, North American, South American or Central American passport you can apply for a Cuba tourist card either through the Cuban consulate in your country or residence or through an accredited provider like us.

How do I apply for a Cuba tourist card?

The process of applying for a Cuba tourist card is very simple and straightforward. You can do it online, by phone or in person at a Cuban consulate in your country of residence. You'll need to provide a few details like passport number (along with passport or passport scan if doing it online), postal address, address of where you're planning to stay in Cuba (a hotel name will suffice) and copy of return flight tickets.

If you do it through the Cuban consulate you can fill in a form available to download online but you'll still need to hand it in person and collect the tourist card in person. Alternatively, if you opt for applying for your Cuba tourist card online, the accredited visa provider will take care of everything and you'll receive your Cuban tourist cards at home in a matter of days (faster if you use our Priority Service ).

If you're in the U.S. or will be travelling to Cuba directly from the U.S. you will need to get your hands on a pink Cuba tourist card, available through U.S. airlines (you can buy them at the gate) flying to Cuba or by contact the Cuban Embassy in Washington.

Will I need a Cuba visa for my Cuba holiday? Do UK visitors need a visa to enter Cuba?

As a British national, for your visit to Cuba you will need a Cuba tourist card, issued by the Cuban consulate in your country of residence but also available through other external providers, like us - we make the process fast, easy and 100% online with no need for you to step into a consulate... thus saving you a 2-day ordeal!.

I'm not from the UK / I don't have a UK passport / I have dual nationality with another country; will I still need a visa to travel to Cuba?

There are a number of countries that have bilateral agreements in place for travel to Cuba and are therefore exempt from applying for a Cuba visa or having to purchase a tourist card. In other words, citizens (passport holders) from the below-listed countries are free to travel to Cuba with no extra documentation required (a valid passport will suffice).

No Cuban visa or tourist card required for a visit with a maximum duration of 90 days for nationals of:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • North Macedonia

No Cuban visa or tourist card required for a visit with a maximum duration of 60 days for nationals of:

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

No Cuban visa or tourist card required for a visit with a maximum duration of 30 days for nationals of:

  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Antigua and Barbuda

No Cuban visa or tourist card required for a visit with a maximum duration of 28 days for nationals of:

Likewise, Cuban passport holders are free to visit the above-listed country without the need to apply for a visa.

So, what is a Cuba tourist card then?

A Cuba tourist card is a small card that needs to be manually filled in with your details and must presented to immigration authorities upon entry and departure to Cuba. As it's not a “sticker” type of visa attached to your passport, the process of obtaining one is easier and more straightforward as it can be done remotely, but you must be careful of not losing it!

It's important to keep your Cuba tourist card in a safe place and try not to lose it during your holiday as it must be shown to immigration authorities before you board the plane back home and if you fail to produce it on the spot you could be delayed while they run checks, risking losing lose your flight. Mind that tourist card!

How long will the tourist card allow me to stay for in Cuba for?

The typical green tourist cards issued to holidaymakers visiting Cuba allows them to stay in the country for 30 days. However, travellers can extend this period of time and make it double by either contacting the hotel desk or heading to immigration authorities once in the island. All 30-day Cuba tourist cards can be extended for a maximum period of 60 days. Well, unless you're a Canadian citizen, in which case you can stay in Cuba for up to 90 days.

Will I need any other documentation to enter Cuba?

All visitors to Cuba need to present a valid passport (and travel at least 2 to 6 months prior to its expiry date, the exact amount of time allowed before its expiry depends on the country you're flying from, it's 2 months for Canadians for example but 6 months for travellers from Europe) as well as health insurance. When it comes to health insurance authorities may ask for it at the airport and if you don't show one, they'll make you buy one on the spot.

Other things you need to know before travelling to Cuba

Beyond having a valid passport, getting travel insurance (it's compulsory for visitors from the U.S) and health insurance (it's compulsory for everyone, even Cubans living abroad), there are other things you should know ahead of your trip to Cuba.

Vaccinations

Cuba is one of the healthiest countries in South America with free public healthcare coverage that provides all recommended vaccinations from birth.

For UK travellers up to date with the national vaccination courses and boosters, no extra vaccinations are advised for travel to Cuba. According to the NHS travel website, Fit for Travel, you may consider getting vaccinated against Hepatitis B, Rabies and Tetanus but it's not regarded as imperative. Other vaccines advised selectively for only those at risk are Cholera and Hepatitis A vaccines.

Drinking water from the tap is highly discouraged as a few years ago there was a massive cholera outbreak. When in Cuba always drink water from a sealed water bottled (check it's sealed) or if you're going to accept homemade juices or smoothies check that they've boiled the water first (at home Cubans boil the water they drink as a precaution).

Special considerations for U.S. travellers

Technically-speaking U.S. citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba for tourist purposes. They can, however, still visit the island provided they sign an affidavit and tick one of the 12 categories allowed for travel to the island. Obama relaxed the strict Cuba travel rules back in 2010 for U.S. citizens but the Trump administration reversed many of his changes, meaning that U.S. visitors can no longer arrange travel to Cuba independently and instead must do so through a licensed tour operator as part of the people-to-people programmes.

Getting your Cuban tourist visa/card is as easy as 1,2,3

As you can see the Cuban visa/Cuban tourist card debacle is not as hard to demystify as you probably thought, but if you still have questions check our FAQs section, and if you still have questions after that, we at Visa Cuba will be more than happy to help you find the right answer. Get in touch by dropping us an email via our online contact form or give us a call. Don't forget that we're recommended by both Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor and are also fully authorised by the Cuban Consulate in the United Kingdom as official Cuba tourist cards providers.

SELECT A TYPE OF VISA

Select the type of visa you will need. Pink visas are required for those travellers beginning their journey in the US to Cuba . For those who travel from the Rest of the World to Cuba , they must opt for a green visa .

Choose this option if you are arriving from any country, except the USA

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Choose this option if you are travelling to Cuba from or via any US airport

SELECT A METHOD OF PURCHASE

Please note that prices below are per person, including infants, and that exclude Process and Delivery

If you do not need your visa urgently, this would be the most suitable delivery option.

Processing time: Up to 5 working days.

Select this option if you are leaving in the next two weeks.

Processing time: 2 working days provided the application reaches us before 1pm on a standard working day.

If you are not based in the UK, please choose this option.

Processing time: 2 working days provided the application reaches us before 1pm on a standard working day. Shipping via DHL, delivery time will depend on your location.

Select this option if you are in UK

Delivery time: next day after the visa is processed.

If you are not in the UK, please choose this option

Shipping via DHL, delivery time will depend on your location and not all regions are included. Visas will only be sent to addresses in Europe, Israel and North America (Canada, Mexico and USA).

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Yes, Americans Can Travel to Cuba in 2023. Here’s How

From the types of travel that are authorized to what cuban tourist cards are and who needs them, here’s what you need to know about visiting cuba..

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A classic car drives by pastel-colored buildings

Havana, Cuba’s capital city, is known for its vintage cars and old architecture.

Photo by Spencer Everett/Unsplash

In the wake of several trying and complicated years for Cuba involving devastating hurricanes, pandemic-era travel restrictions, ever-changing U.S. State Department-issued travel advisories , and continually updated trade and tourism regulations , it’s not surprising that many Americans might be confused about whether and how U.S. travelers can legally visit Cuba .

As of early 2023, the short answer is: Yes, you can travel to Cuba as a U.S. citizen.

There are, however, some hoops you’ll need to jump through, because (technically speaking) travel to Cuba with the express intention of purely vacationing isn’t allowed.

For U.S. citizens interested in planning a trip to Cuba, here’s what you need to know before you go.

Can you travel to Cuba?

Regulations for travel between the United States and Cuba tend to change with each presidential administration. The island nation became more open during the Carter, Clinton, and Obama years and more closed off during the G.W. Bush and Trump years.

The Trump administration made it significantly harder to visit Cuba. During his time in office, President Trump enacted more than 200 measures against Cuba , which included limiting which Cuban airports flights from the U.S. could fly into, banning cruise ships sailing from the U.S. from stopping in Cuba, and eliminating the most common visa category under which U.S. citizens planned legal visits to Cuba (known as “people-to-people” travel).

However, in May 2022, President Biden’s administration announced it would undo many of the Cuba-related restrictions enacted under Trump and would work on expanding authorized travel. Under the new order, regular passenger and charter airplanes are again allowed to fly to any Cuban airport (and airlines have already begun announcing new flight paths ). And officials have said that the “people-to-people” category of travel, under which many tours and organized travel companies bring U.S. travelers to Cuba, will ultimately return, though there is no timeline on when that will happen.

Cuba_Shutterstock_255106795.jpg

How to travel to Cuba as an American citizen

U.S. law states that those who want to go to Cuba need to qualify for a “general license” based on one of 12 approved categories.

The 12 categories currently authorized by U.S. government, for travel to Cuba are:

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • Educational activities
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
  • Certain authorized export transactions

Licenses are self-qualifying, meaning that when you purchase your airline ticket, you’ll be asked to state your category in a signed affidavit before check-out.

When former President Obama first eased travel restrictions to Cuba , the move allowed leisure travelers to pursue self-led trips under the “people-to-people” educational activities category. Today, the “support for the Cuban people” category is the most popular, as it’s the broadest.

What the “support for the Cuban people” license entails

To adhere to the requirements for independent travel under “support for the Cuban people,” travelers must first declare the category (when prompted) while booking flights and lodging. As part of the license, travelers are also expected to prepare an itinerary outlining how their trip will fulfill the category’s terms and contribute to Cuba’s local economy. (This itinerary could be—but isn’t always—requested on arrival to the country.)

An appropriate “support for the Cuban people” itinerary could including staying in casa particulares (locally run guesthouses), visiting Cuban-owned businesses, going on tours (like classic car rides or architecture walking tours) run by Cubans, visiting independent museums and galleries, partaking in cultural dance and music classes, and eating at locally owned restaurants and markets. (For specific recommendations and local resources, check out AFAR’s Cuba Travel Guide .)

Travelers can visit independently under that category, though it’s important you keep a record of your itinerary and your receipts, as the U.S. government can ask for them up to five years after the trip.

Can you still travel to Cuba with organized tour operators?

Even though the Trump administration’s tightened restrictions on travel to Cuba prohibited organized “people-to-people” tours entirely, many tour companies have switched their approach to adhere to the “support for the Cuban people” license, according to Tom Popper, president of U.S.-based tour operator InsightCuba . Other tour providers that offer “people-to-people” trips, such as GeoEx Adventure Travel , InsightCuba , Intrepid Travel, and G Adventures, have similarly transitioned their program itineraries in order to offer legal trips to Cuba that comply with the regulations.

How to get a Cuban Tourist Card

Cuban Tourist Cards are not Cuban visas, though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. 

The term Cuban Tourist Cards and Cuban visas are sometimes used interchangeably.

Courtesy of Easy Tourist Card

Regardless of the license under which you travel to Cuba, you’ll still need to organize a few important documents before you go.

The Cuban government requires that all travelers entering the country provide a valid passport and proof of travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuation by air. In addition, all U.S. travelers—adults, children, and infants—must purchase a Cuban Tourist Card , which grants visitors a maximum stay of 30 days on the island. Tourist Cards are valid for 180 days after purchase, which means you will need to travel within six months of obtaining the document. Note that the terms Cuban Tourist Card and Cuban visa are sometimes used interchangeably; they’re the same thing.

There are several ways to buy a Cuban Tourist Card: Many U.S. airlines with direct service to Havana—among them United Airlines , JetBlue , American Airlines , Delta , and Southwest —offer Tourist Cards either online or at the gate; prices and purchase locations vary among carriers, so it’s important to check in advance.

Websites like Easy Tourist Card allow travelers to apply for and purchase Tourist Cards online with two-day international shipping. Those who plan to fly to Havana directly from the United States will need to purchase a pink Tourist Card at a slightly pricier rate of $100, while those departing from non-U.S. airports can purchase a green Tourist Card for $37, even with a U.S. passport.

“U.S. travelers should note that travel to Cuba has been regulated since 1963 and has changed under each presidential administration since that time,” states Popper of InsightCuba. “Cuba travel has always been a hot political topic, and you never know when the rules are going to change. I always tell people to go now—while you can.”

This article was originally published in 2018. It was most recently updated on April 10, 2023, to include current information.

Family Beach Fire.jpg

How to Travel to Cuba If You Are an American

tourist visa to go to cuba

 Kriangkrai Thitimakorn / Getty Images 

Travel to Cuba for American citizens has been a back-and-forth battle over the past few decades, and as of June 2019, tighter restrictions have been placed on travelers and tourists hoping to visit this Caribbean island.

Travelers must now declare themselves as making a trip that falls under one of 12 categories of travel. This means that tourists may no longer travel to Cuba in the "people to people" category, and those that do make it to Cuba are no longer allowed to support businesses that help fund the Cuban military. Additionally, the Trump administration further banned cruise ships and ferries from transporting Americans to the islands in June of 2019.

In order to book a flight to Cuba or lodging in the country now, you must now declare which category of travel you'll be making first, and as Americans still cannot simply book a flight and head to Cuba, most U.S. citizens will have to go through a process to make it to this country—unless they are part of a protected group still permitted to travel there.

New Legislation and Getting a Visa: Who Can Travel

Legal individual travel has always required that citizens fall under one of the 12 categories of permitted travel to Cuba, a rule already in place before Trump's November 2017 edict. Now, however, the requirement is legally binding and you'll need to document your activities to prove you were there for legitimate reasons (other than tourism).

According to the  U.S. Embassy in Cuba's official website , trips may be completed for: 

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • Educational activities
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  • Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines

In order to get a travel visa to Cuba, neither the U.S. Embassy in Havana nor the U.S Department of State in Washington, D.C. process applications, so you'll instead need to apply through the Cuban Embassy in D.C.

Booking Hotels and Logistics of Visiting Cuba

Because of the Trump administration's policy banning American support of military-funded establishments, paired with hurricanes that ravaged the island in 2017, booking a hotel room can be a challenge.

According to officials from the Trump administration, these new restrictions in Cuba were not meant to stop tourism of the country but to "direct money and economic activity away from the Cuban military and security services" and toward businesses owned by Cuban citizens.

Essentially, these new laws hope to encourage visitors to eat at local restaurants, stay in local hotels (or private homes), and buy from local businesses—just make sure you never go to any restricted businesses or you could be fined or arrested upon return to the United States.

While Trump has discouraged travel to Cuba with these new restrictions, it's still possible to go and enjoy the rich culture of this island. However, since relations between the United States and Cuba are suffering under the Trump administration, be well prepared before you go. Be sure to bring enough cash for your entire trip as accessing American funds in Cuba—as well as exchanging them to the Cuban peso—is rather difficult.

Going Solo to Cuba

Although the 2017 restrictions still allowed cruise ships and authorized tour groups to arrange hotels, transportation, meals, and an itinerary that complies with federal regulations, the 2019 edict prohibited these from arranging travel for tourists seeking to visit Cuba as tourists.

Going solo now, you'll need a passport and a reason for being there that doesn't involve tourism. You'll need to make your own hotel and transport arrangements, of course, and a working knowledge of Spanish can help, too. However, the island nation already has experience handling international tourists, so there is more than minimal tourist help already in place.

The changes in Cuba policy don't apply to travelers from elsewhere in the world, and Cuba is among the most popular Caribbean destinations for travelers from Canada and Europe. A number of international hotel companies, such as  Riu ,  Iberostar , and  Melia , have built large resorts in Cuban destinations like Varadero that meet the expectations of savvy global travelers. More than two million tourists now visit Cuba annually.

Traveling by U.S. Commercial Airlines

Although some top U.S. airlines bid over the right to fly to Cuba in 2016, the 2017 restrictions have all but eliminated commercial airline travel between the two countries. Charter flights that largely originate in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa still remain travelers' best option for getting to Cuba by air from the U.S. It is highly unlikely that Cuba's airlines will begin offering flights to the U.S. anytime soon, as they would have to overcome significant regulatory hurdles in order to do so. Beginning in late 2019, U.S.-based carriers will only fly in and out of Havana. To visit other Cuban cities, you will have to travel by land within the country.

Flying From Canada, Cancun, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica

If you don't want to wait for U.S. airlines to start flying to Cuba, or you want to combine a visit to Cuba with a trip to a different Caribbean island, you have options, and not just to Havana but also a wide range of  Cuban destinations .

Currently, Air Canada flies between Toronto and Havana and Varadero, Cuba, while Cubana—Cuba's national airline—has service between Toronto and Montreal and Havana, Varadero, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, and Holguín, and COPA Airlines also has daily Toronto-Havana flights.

Cancun  has long been the gateway of choice for Americans looking to visit Cuba without attracting the attention of U.S. Customs officials, and even though restrictions have tightened, you can still fly Cubana from Cancun to Havana. Cayman Airways also has flights to Havana from  Grand Cayman  and  Jamaica .

Using the Havana Embassy

The  U.S. Embassy in Havana  reopened in August 2015, as full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States have been restored. Although the relationship is now strained thanks to the Trump administration, this embassy will still help American citizens in Cuba in a variety of different ways.

Services offered at the U.S. Embassy in Havana include processing applications for new U.S. passports, renewing expired passports, or replacing stolen passports as well as registering U.S. citizens living in, traveling to, or born in Cuba.

The U.S. Embassy also provides federal income tax forms, services to notarize documents to be used in the United States, and limited assistance to U.S. citizen prisoners in Cuba as well as assistance in the shipment of remains of deceased U.S. citizens back to the United States or coordinating medical evacuations for U.S. citizens.

In an emergency situation, the U.S. Embassy will also assist in wiring money to citizens, but don't count on this option to help you if you simply run out of funds while visiting Cuba.

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Travel To Cuba: How To Get A Visa As An American

Published: September 6, 2023

Modified: January 3, 2024

by Diahann Herold

  • Hotel Reviews
  • Plan Your Trip
  • Travel Guide
  • Travel Tips
  • Travel to Cuba

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Introduction

With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, Cuba has become an increasingly popular travel destination for Americans. However, due to certain travel restrictions, planning a trip to Cuba can be a bit more complicated for American citizens compared to other destinations. One of the key factors to consider when traveling to Cuba is obtaining a visa.

In the past, travel to Cuba was heavily restricted for Americans, but in recent years, the regulations have been eased, allowing more people to visit the island. However, it’s important to note that there are still specific categories under which Americans can travel to Cuba legally.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the different types of visas available for Americans traveling to Cuba. We will also guide you through the process of applying for a visa, depending on the purpose of your visit. Whether you’re planning a leisure trip or an educational experience, understanding the visa requirements for Cuba will help ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey.

So, if you’re ready to embark on your Cuban adventure, read on to discover the various types of visas and how to obtain them as an American traveler.

Overview of Travel to Cuba for Americans

Traveling to Cuba has become increasingly accessible for Americans in recent years, thanks to relaxed travel restrictions. However, it’s important for American citizens to be aware of the specific regulations and requirements when planning a trip to this beautiful Caribbean island.

Historically, travel to Cuba from the United States was heavily restricted due to political tensions between the two nations. However, in 2014, the Obama administration announced a series of measures to normalize relations with Cuba, which included easing travel restrictions for Americans.

Under the current regulations, Americans can travel to Cuba for specific purposes, such as tourism, education, people-to-people exchanges, support for the Cuban people, cultural exchanges, and religious activities. It is crucial to ensure that your travel plans fall within one of these categories to comply with the U.S. government’s requirements.

It’s important to note that while travel to Cuba has become more accessible, there are still some limitations. For example, travelers are required to maintain a full-time schedule of activities related to their approved purpose of travel and should keep appropriate records of their activities while in Cuba. Additionally, American visitors are prohibited from engaging in certain transactions, such as staying in certain government-owned accommodations or conducting business with certain entities on the island.

While these regulations may seem complex, the experience of traveling to Cuba is well worth the effort. From exploring the vintage charm of Havana to relaxing on pristine beaches, Cuba offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. By familiarizing yourself with the specific travel requirements, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience during your visit.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the different types of visas available for Americans traveling to Cuba. Whether you’re planning a leisure trip, an educational experience, or a cultural exchange, understanding and obtaining the appropriate visa will be essential to ensure compliance with the regulations and make the most of your time in Cuba.

Types of Visas for Travel to Cuba

When it comes to traveling to Cuba as an American citizen, there are several types of visas that you can apply for. These visas are specifically designed to align with the approved travel categories outlined by the U.S. government. Let’s take a closer look at each of these visas:

This type of visa allows Americans to visit Cuba for leisure and tourism purposes. While tourism to Cuba by Americans technically remains restricted, the U.S. government allows authorized travel to engage in people-to-people exchanges and support for the Cuban people, which can still encompass many tourist activities.

For those interested in pursuing educational opportunities in Cuba, educational visas are available. This category includes activities such as attending classes, workshops, or conferences, or participating in research projects in collaboration with Cuban institutions or organizations.

This visa category allows Americans to engage in educational exchanges between individuals or groups in the United States and Cuba. It encourages meaningful interactions with the Cuban people, promoting a deeper understanding of their culture, history, and daily lives.

Under this visa category, Americans can travel to Cuba to support the Cuban people through various types of activities. This can include staying in privately-owned accommodations, dining at privately-owned restaurants (paladares), and engaging in interactions with local entrepreneurs and artists.

If you’re interested in participating in cultural exchange programs, this visa category is the one for you. It encompasses activities such as art exhibitions, music festivals, theater performances, and other cultural events or projects.

For religious practitioners or those interested in engaging in religious activities, there is a visa category specifically for this purpose. This can include attending religious services, participating in religious ceremonies, or volunteering for religious organizations in Cuba.

Each visa category has specific requirements and guidelines that must be followed to obtain the visa. Understanding the purpose of your travel and choosing the appropriate visa is crucial to ensure compliance with U.S. regulations and make your trip to Cuba a seamless and memorable experience.

Tourist Visas

Traveling to Cuba for tourism purposes is still technically restricted for American citizens. However, the U.S. government allows authorized travel under the categories of people-to-people exchanges and support for the Cuban people, which can encompass many tourist activities.

To visit Cuba as a tourist, you will need to apply for a Cuban Tourist Visa, also known as a “Tarjeta del Turista” or “Tourist Card”. This visa allows you to stay in Cuba for up to 30 days and can be extended for an additional 30 days while you are in the country.

Obtaining a Tourist Visa for Cuba is relatively straightforward, and there are a few different ways to acquire one:

  • Through an airline or travel agent: Many airlines and travel agents offer Tourist Visas as part of their service when booking flights to Cuba. They will provide you with the necessary forms and guidance on how to fill them out correctly.
  • Embassies or Consulates: You can also apply for a Tourist Visa directly through the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. Contact the embassy or consulate for specific instructions and the required documents.
  • Third-party visa services: There are various third-party visa services that can assist you in obtaining a Cuban Tourist Visa. These services can be found online and will guide you through the application process.

When filling out the Tourist Visa application, you will be required to provide basic personal information, such as your name, date of birth, passport details, and intended dates of travel. Make sure to double-check all the information before submitting your application to avoid any delays or complications.

It’s important to note that as a tourist, you are required to maintain a full-time schedule of activities that fall within the authorized travel categories. This could include engaging in people-to-people exchanges, supporting the Cuban people through interactions with local entrepreneurs, or participating in cultural events. It’s advisable to keep a record of your activities and retain any related receipts or documentation.

It’s also essential to be aware of the prohibited transactions while in Cuba. As an American traveler, you should avoid conducting business with certain government-owned entities and staying in government-owned accommodations. Private bed and breakfasts (casas particulares) and privately-owned restaurants (paladares) are excellent alternatives for accommodations and dining.

By obtaining a Tourist Visa and being mindful of the authorized travel categories and prohibited transactions, you can make the most of your trip to Cuba while complying with the U.S. government’s regulations.

Educational Visas

If you’re looking to pursue educational opportunities in Cuba, such as attending classes, workshops, or conferences, you will need to obtain an Educational Visa. This visa allows American citizens to engage in educational exchange programs and academic activities on the island.

To apply for an Educational Visa, you will need to have a specific educational program or activity arranged in Cuba. This could include studying at a Cuban university, participating in a language immersion program, conducting research in collaboration with Cuban institutions, or attending a workshop or conference.

The process of obtaining an Educational Visa may involve the following steps:

  • Identify an educational program: Research and select an educational program or activity in Cuba that aligns with your interests and academic goals. Ensure that the program is approved by the U.S. government and falls within the authorized travel categories.
  • Apply to the program: Follow the application process provided by the educational program or institution in Cuba. You may be required to submit academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
  • Receive acceptance and invitation: Once your application is accepted, you will receive an acceptance letter or invitation from the Cuban educational institution or program coordinator. This letter will be crucial for your visa application.
  • Apply for an Educational Visa: Contact the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country to inquire about the specific requirements for obtaining an Educational Visa. You will likely need to provide the acceptance letter, proof of enrollment or participation in the program, and other supporting documents.
  • Attend an interview (if required): Depending on the country and the circumstances, you may be required to attend an interview at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate. Be prepared to discuss your educational plans and provide any additional information they may require.
  • Receive the visa: If your application is approved, you will be issued an Educational Visa, allowing you to travel to Cuba for the specified educational program or activity.

During your time in Cuba, it’s important to adhere to the rules and regulations of the educational program and engage in the approved academic activities. Maintain any necessary documentation related to your educational program, such as class schedules, certificates, or research project outlines.

Remember to also comply with the U.S. government’s regulations regarding prohibited transactions. Avoid engaging in business with certain government-owned entities and plan your accommodations and dining at privately-owned establishments.

By obtaining an Educational Visa and immersing yourself in the educational opportunities Cuba has to offer, you can broaden your knowledge, gain cultural insights, and have a truly enriching experience on the island.

People-to-People Visas

If you’re interested in engaging in educational exchanges and meaningful interactions with the Cuban people, a People-to-People Visa is the appropriate visa category for you. This visa allows Americans to visit Cuba for the purpose of connecting with individuals and groups in Cuba.

The People-to-People category was initially introduced as a way to foster cultural exchange and promote understanding between the people of the United States and Cuba. Under this visa, travelers have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities that involve direct interaction with the Cuban people.

To obtain a People-to-People Visa, you will need to plan and participate in activities that promote meaningful exchange and contact with Cubans. These activities can include attending cultural events, visiting community projects, interacting with artists and entrepreneurs, or participating in educational programs or workshops.

When applying for a People-to-People Visa, it’s crucial to carefully plan your itinerary to ensure that it aligns with the authorized travel category. As part of the application process for this visa, you may be required to submit a detailed itinerary that outlines your planned interactions and activities with the Cuban people.

While there is no specific visa application form for a People-to-People Visa, you will need to make sure that your travel falls within the U.S. government’s guidelines. It’s advisable to work with a travel organization or provider that specializes in people-to-people exchange programs, as they can help ensure that your activities are in compliance with the regulations.

During your visit to Cuba, it’s important to keep a record of your activities and any related documentation, such as event tickets, workshop participation certificates, or receipts from cultural activities. These records will serve as evidence of your compliance with the People-to-People Visa requirements.

It’s also important to be aware of the prohibited transactions and avoid engaging in business with certain government-owned entities. Opt for accommodations in privately-owned bed and breakfasts (casas particulares) and dine at privately-owned restaurants (paladares) to support the Cuban people directly.

By obtaining a People-to-People Visa and engaging in meaningful, educational, and cultural exchanges with the Cuban people, you can develop a deeper understanding of their way of life and contribute to the positive connections between the United States and Cuba.

Support for the Cuban People Visas

If you’re interested in supporting the Cuban people through your visit to the island, a Support for the Cuban People Visa is the appropriate visa category for you. This visa allows American travelers to engage in activities that directly contribute to the well-being and prosperity of the Cuban people.

The Support for the Cuban People category encourages interaction with local entrepreneurs, artists, and organizations and supports the growth of independent businesses and private initiatives in Cuba. By staying in privately-owned accommodations, dining at privately-owned restaurants (paladares), and engaging in economic and cultural exchanges, you can contribute to the development of the Cuban private sector.

To apply for a Support for the Cuban People Visa, you will need to plan a trip that aligns with the authorized activities of this category. Focus on engaging with the Cuban people and supporting independent businesses, as well as participating in activities that promote positive economic and cultural impact.

When applying for a Support for the Cuban People Visa, you will not fill out a specific visa application form. Instead, you will need to plan a detailed itinerary that includes activities and interactions that directly support the Cuban people. This can include visiting local markets, attending art exhibitions, collaborating with local artisans, or volunteering for community projects.

While there is no requirement to have your itinerary approved in advance, it’s recommended to keep a record of your activities, including dates, locations, and any receipts or documentation that can support your compliance with the Support for the Cuban People category.

During your visit to Cuba, it’s important to prioritize staying in privately-owned accommodations, such as casas particulares, instead of government-owned hotels. Similarly, choose to dine at privately-owned restaurants where possible to directly support local entrepreneurs.

Engage in conversations and interactions with the Cuban people to gain insights into their daily lives and encourage cultural exchange. Take the time to learn about their customs, traditions, and aspirations, and consider how you can contribute to their well-being or assist in their endeavors.

It’s crucial to remember that engaging in business transactions with certain government-owned entities is prohibited under the Support for the Cuban People category. Be mindful of this and seek out local independent businesses and entrepreneurs for your accommodations, dining, and other services.

By obtaining a Support for the Cuban People Visa and actively supporting the Cuban people through your visit, you can play a part in fostering economic growth, cultural understanding, and positive change on the island.

Cultural Exchange Visas

If you’re seeking a visa that allows you to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Cuba, a Cultural Exchange Visa is the ideal choice. This visa category enables Americans to participate in cultural events, festivals, exhibitions, and other activities that promote cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba.

With its rich history, music, dance, art, and literature, Cuba offers a treasure trove of cultural experiences. The Cultural Exchange category allows individuals to engage with the local artistic community, attend cultural events, and contribute to the preservation and celebration of Cuban culture.

When applying for a Cultural Exchange Visa, you will need to plan your itinerary to include cultural activities that fall within the authorized travel category. This can involve attending performances by Cuban musicians and dancers, visiting art galleries and museums, participating in workshops or classes, and interacting with local artists and artisans.

While there is no specific visa application form for a Cultural Exchange Visa, it’s advisable to keep a detailed itinerary of your planned cultural activities during your stay in Cuba. This can include the dates, times, and locations of the events or activities you plan to participate in.

It’s important to note that the main focus of a Cultural Exchange Visa is engaging in cultural exchange with the Cuban people. Make an effort to interact with local artists, attend events that showcase Cuban culture, and learn about the traditions and history of the country.

During your visit, prioritize supporting the local artistic community by purchasing artwork directly from artists, attending exhibitions or performances by local talent, or even taking part in cultural workshops or classes. By doing so, you are actively contributing to the growth and preservation of Cuban culture.

When planning your accommodations, opt for privately-owned bed and breakfasts (casas particulares) and seek out privately-owned restaurants (paladares) to enhance your cultural experience and support local entrepreneurs.

While being immersed in the cultural riches of Cuba, remember to document your experiences, such as photographs, videos, or even a travel journal, to capture the essence of the cultural exchange and preserve your memories of the vibrant Cuban arts scene.

By obtaining a Cultural Exchange Visa and engaging in activities that facilitate understanding and appreciation of Cuban culture, you can become an ambassador of cultural exchange and forge meaningful connections between the United States and Cuba.

Religious Activities Visas

If you’re planning to engage in religious activities during your visit to Cuba, a Religious Activities Visa is the appropriate visa category to pursue. This visa allows American travelers to participate in religious ceremonies, services, or volunteer work in Cuba.

Cuba is known for its religious diversity, with a rich tapestry of religious practices including Catholicism, Santeria, and various other Afro-Caribbean traditions. The Religious Activities category allows individuals to experience and contribute to the religious landscape of Cuba.

To apply for a Religious Activities Visa, it’s necessary to have a specific religious program or activity arranged in Cuba. This can include attending religious services, participating in religious ceremonies, engaging in volunteer work for religious organizations, or studying and researching religious practices in collaboration with Cuban institutions.

When applying for a Religious Activities Visa, you will need to provide supporting documentation, such as a letter of invitation from a religious organization in Cuba or a detailed itinerary of your planned religious activities during your stay.

While there is no specific visa application form for a Religious Activities Visa, it’s important to ensure that your planned religious activities fall within the authorized travel category. This includes attending religious services, participating in religious ceremonies, studying religious texts, or engaging in volunteer work related to religious organizations or projects.

During your visit to Cuba, take the opportunity to explore the religious sites and traditions of the country. Attend religious services, visit temples, churches, or other places of worship, and engage in conversations with local practitioners to deepen your understanding of Cuban religious practices.

It’s important to respect and follow the customs and rituals of the religious traditions you encounter while in Cuba. Observe any dress codes or behavioral guidelines that may be associated with specific religious sites or ceremonies.

When planning your accommodations, consider staying in privately-owned bed and breakfasts (casas particulares) or other accommodations that align with your religious beliefs, whenever possible. Support the local community by dining at privately-owned restaurants (paladares) that share your commitment to religious values.

By obtaining a Religious Activities Visa and actively participating in religious ceremonies, services, or volunteer work, you can foster interfaith connections, gain insights into Cuban religious practices, and contribute to the religious landscape of both Cuba and the United States.

How to Apply for a Visa

When planning your trip to Cuba, it’s essential to understand the process of applying for a visa. The specific steps and requirements may vary depending on the visa category you are applying for, but here is a general guide on how to apply for a visa to travel to Cuba.

  • Identify the appropriate visa category: Determine which visa category aligns with the purpose of your travel. Whether it’s a Tourist Visa, Educational Visa, People-to-People Visa, Support for the Cuban People Visa, Cultural Exchange Visa, or Religious Activities Visa, make sure you meet the criteria and requirements for that particular category.
  • Gather the necessary documentation: Review the specific documentation requirements for your chosen visa category. This may include a valid passport with at least six months of remaining validity, a completed visa application form, an invitation letter or detailed itinerary, proof of travel insurance, and any other supporting documents required by the Cuban Embassy or Consulate.
  • Submit your application: Depending on your country of residence, you may need to submit your visa application in person at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate, or you may be able to apply online or by mail. Follow the instructions provided by the embassy or consulate and ensure that all necessary documents are included with your application.
  • Pay the visa fee: There is generally a fee associated with visa applications. Check the current fee for your specific visa category and make the payment as required. Payment methods may vary, so ensure you have the necessary means to pay the fee.
  • Attend an interview (if required): Depending on the visa category and the specific circumstances, you may be required to attend an interview at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate. The purpose of the interview is to discuss your travel plans, provide any additional information, or clarify any concerns.
  • Wait for processing: After submitting your visa application, allow sufficient time for the embassy or consulate to review and process your application. Processing times can vary, so it’s advisable to submit your application well in advance of your planned travel dates.
  • Receive your visa: Once your application has been approved, you will receive your visa either in person or through the designated process outlined by the embassy or consulate. Make sure to check the visa carefully for accuracy and validity dates.

It’s important to note that visa requirements and processes can change, so it’s recommended to check the official website of the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country for the most up-to-date information.

Be sure to follow all applicable rules and regulations while in Cuba, keep a record of your activities, and comply with the guidelines of your specific visa category to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip to this captivating Caribbean nation.

Applying for a Cuban Tourist Visa

If you’re planning a leisure trip to Cuba, you will need to apply for a Cuban Tourist Visa, also known as a “Tarjeta del Turista” or “Tourist Card”. Here is a general guide on how to apply for a Cuban Tourist Visa.

  • Determine the method of application: You have a few options for applying for a Cuban Tourist Visa. You can obtain it through an airline or travel agent when booking your flights to Cuba, apply directly at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country, or utilize the services of a third-party visa provider.
  • Provide necessary information: When applying for a Cuban Tourist Visa, you will need to provide basic personal information, such as your name, date of birth, passport details, and intended dates of travel. Double-check all the information for accuracy before submitting your application.
  • Pay the visa fee: There is typically a fee associated with obtaining a Cuban Tourist Visa. The fee amount may vary depending on the issuing entity or service provider. Ensure that you have the necessary means to pay for the visa, as payment methods may differ.
  • Receive your Tourist Visa: Once your application and payment are processed, you will receive your Tourist Visa. This can be in the form of a physical card or an electronic document, depending on the method of application. Ensure that you have the appropriate documentation before traveling to Cuba.

It’s important to note that as a tourist, you are required to maintain a full-time schedule of activities that fall within the authorized travel categories. This includes engaging in people-to-people exchanges or supporting the Cuban people through interactions with local entrepreneurs. Keep a record of your activities and retain any related receipts or documentation.

Moreover, be aware of the prohibited transactions while in Cuba. Avoid conducting business with certain government-owned entities and opt for privately-owned accommodations, such as bed and breakfasts (casas particulares), and privately-owned restaurants (paladares) for dining.

By applying for and obtaining a Cuban Tourist Visa, you can enjoy your leisure trip to Cuba while complying with the travel requirements and regulations of both the U.S. government and the Cuban authorities. Remember to have a valid passport and other necessary travel documents, comply with any entry requirements, and have a memorable experience exploring the beauty and culture of Cuba.

Applying for an Educational Visa

If you’re planning to pursue educational opportunities in Cuba, such as attending classes, conducting research, or participating in academic programs, you will need to apply for an Educational Visa. Here is a general guide on how to apply for an Educational Visa for Cuba.

  • Select an educational program: Research and choose an educational program or institution in Cuba that aligns with your interests and academic goals. Ensure that the program is recognized and approved by the Cuban authorities and falls under the authorized travel categories.
  • Apply to the program: Follow the application process provided by the educational program. This may involve submitting an application form, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and any additional requirements specified by the program.
  • Obtain an acceptance letter: Once accepted into the educational program, you will receive an acceptance letter or invitation from the Cuban institution or program coordinator. This letter serves as proof of your enrollment or participation in the program and will be required for your visa application.
  • Contact the Cuban Embassy or Consulate: Reach out to the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country to inquire about the specific requirements for applying for an Educational Visa. They will provide you with the necessary forms and instructions.
  • Submit your application: Prepare your visa application, including the completed forms, acceptance letter, valid passport, and any other required documents specified by the Cuban Embassy or Consulate. Make sure to submit your application within the designated timeframe before your intended travel dates.
  • Attend an interview (if required): Depending on the circumstances and the country of application, you may be required to attend an interview at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate. Be prepared to discuss your educational plans and provide any additional information they may require.
  • Receive your visa: If your application is approved, you will be issued an Educational Visa allowing you to travel to Cuba for the specified educational program. Make sure to check the visa carefully for accuracy and validity dates.

During your stay in Cuba, adhere to the rules and regulations of the educational program and engage in the approved academic activities. Keep any necessary documentation related to your educational program, such as class schedules, certificates, or research project details, as documentation of your compliance.

While in Cuba, be mindful of prohibited transactions and avoid engaging in business with certain government-owned entities. Consider staying in privately-owned accommodations, such as bed and breakfasts (casas particulares), and dining at privately-owned restaurants (paladares).

By applying for and obtaining an Educational Visa, you can enrich your educational experience in Cuba while complying with the travel requirements and regulations of both the U.S. government and the Cuban authorities.

Applying for a People-to-People Visa

If you’re interested in engaging in educational exchanges and meaningful interactions with the Cuban people, a People-to-People Visa is the appropriate visa category. This visa allows American travelers to visit Cuba for the purpose of connecting with individuals and groups in Cuba. Here is a general guide on how to apply for a People-to-People Visa for Cuba.

  • Plan your itinerary: Consider the activities you wish to engage in while in Cuba that promote meaningful exchange and contact with the Cuban people. This can include attending cultural events, visiting community projects, interacting with artists and entrepreneurs, or participating in educational programs or workshops.
  • Choose a travel organization: Work with a travel organization or provider that specializes in people-to-people exchange programs. They can provide guidance on planning your itinerary, ensuring that your activities align with the people-to-people category, and help you fulfill the requirements.
  • Prepare necessary documents: Collect the necessary documents for your People-to-People Visa application. This may include your valid passport, completed visa application form, detailed itinerary, confirmation of activities or participation in a people-to-people program, and any other supporting documents required by the Cuban Embassy or Consulate.
  • Submit your application: Submit your visa application to the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country. Ensure that all required documents are included and that the application is completed accurately. Submit your application well in advance of your planned travel dates to allow for processing time.
  • Provide evidence of compliance: Be prepared to provide evidence of compliance with the people-to-people category during your visa application process. This can include documents such as event tickets, workshop participation certificates, or receipts from cultural activities.
  • Attend an interview (if required): Depending on the country and circumstances, you may be required to attend an interview at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate. The purpose of the interview is to discuss your travel plans, provide any additional information, or clarify any concerns.
  • Receive your visa: If your application is approved, you will receive your People-to-People Visa, allowing you to travel to Cuba for the specified people-to-people activities. Check the visa carefully for accuracy and validity dates.

During your visit to Cuba, prioritize engaging with the Cuban people and participating in the approved people-to-people activities. Keep a record of your activities, such as photographs, event programs, or receipts, to demonstrate your compliance with the requirements of the visa category.

Remember to adhere to the U.S. government regulations regarding prohibited transactions, and choose privately-owned accommodations, such as bed and breakfasts (casas particulares), and privately-owned restaurants (paladares) for your stay and dining experiences.

By applying for and obtaining a People-to-People Visa, you can foster cultural exchange, gain insights into the daily lives of the Cuban people, and create meaningful connections during your visit to this captivating Caribbean nation.

Applying for a Support for the Cuban People Visa

If you’re interested in supporting the Cuban people through your visit to the island, a Support for the Cuban People Visa is the appropriate category to pursue. This visa allows American travelers to engage in activities that directly contribute to the well-being and prosperity of the Cuban people. Here is a general guide on how to apply for a Support for the Cuban People Visa for Cuba.

  • Plan your itinerary: Develop an itinerary that includes activities that directly support the Cuban people. This can involve staying in privately-owned accommodations, dining at privately-owned restaurants (paladares), and engaging in activities that contribute to the local community, such as interacting with local entrepreneurs or artists.
  • Collect necessary documents: Gather the necessary documents for your visa application. This may include a completed visa application form, your valid passport, a detailed itinerary, and any other supporting documents required by the Cuban Embassy or Consulate.
  • Submit your application: Submit your completed visa application to the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country. Ensure that all required documents are included and that the application is accurately completed. Submit your application well in advance of your planned travel dates.
  • Provide evidence of compliance: Be prepared to provide evidence that your planned activities align with the Support for the Cuban People category. This can include documentation such as receipts from privately-owned accommodations or restaurants, records of interactions with local entrepreneurs, or proof of participation in community projects.
  • Receive your visa: If your application is approved, you will receive your Support for the Cuban People Visa, allowing you to travel to Cuba for the specified activities. Check the visa carefully for accuracy and validity dates.

During your visit to Cuba, focus on engaging in activities that directly support the Cuban people. Stay in privately-owned accommodations, such as bed and breakfasts (casas particulares), and dine at privately-owned restaurants (paladares) to contribute to the local economy and support entrepreneurs.

Document your activities and interactions with the local community, such as keeping receipts, taking photographs, or maintaining a travel diary. These records can serve as evidence of compliance with the Support for the Cuban People category.

Remember to adhere to the U.S. government regulations regarding prohibited transactions, and avoid engaging in business with certain government-owned entities during your stay in Cuba.

By applying for and obtaining a Support for the Cuban People Visa, you can actively contribute to the well-being and prosperity of the Cuban people while experiencing their rich culture and forging meaningful connections during your visit to this captivating Caribbean nation.

Applying for a Cultural Exchange Visa

If you’re interested in participating in cultural exchange programs and immersing yourself in the vibrant cultural scene of Cuba, a Cultural Exchange Visa is the appropriate category to pursue. This visa allows American travelers to engage in activities such as art exhibitions, music festivals, theater performances, and other cultural events or projects. Here is a general guide on how to apply for a Cultural Exchange Visa for Cuba.

  • Plan your itinerary: Determine the cultural activities you wish to participate in during your visit to Cuba. This can include attending cultural events, visiting museums, art galleries, or historic sites, participating in workshops, or interacting with local artists and cultural organizations.
  • Collect necessary documents: Gather the required documents for your visa application. These may include a completed visa application form, a detailed itinerary of your planned cultural activities, confirmation of attendance at specific cultural events or programs, and any other supporting documents specified by the Cuban Embassy or Consulate.
  • Submit your application: Submit your visa application along with all the required documents to the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country. Ensure that the application is accurately filled out and that all necessary documents are included. Submit your application well in advance of your planned travel dates.
  • Provide evidence of compliance: Be prepared to provide evidence that your planned activities align with the Cultural Exchange category. This may include event tickets, workshop participation certificates, receipts from cultural venues, or any other relevant documentation that demonstrates your engagement in cultural exchange activities.
  • Attend an interview (if required): Depending on the country and circumstances, you may be required to attend an interview at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate. The purpose of the interview is to discuss your travel plans, provide additional information, or address any concerns.
  • Wait for processing: After submitting your visa application, allow sufficient time for the embassy or consulate to review and process your application. Processing times can vary, so it’s advisable to submit your application well ahead of your planned travel dates.
  • Receive your visa: If your application is approved, you will receive your Cultural Exchange Visa, granting you permission to travel to Cuba and engage in the specified cultural activities. Double-check the visa for accuracy and validity dates.

During your visit to Cuba, prioritize engaging in the cultural activities outlined in your itinerary. Attend cultural events, explore museums and galleries, interact with local artists and organizations, and immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene of Cuba.

Ensure compliance with the U.S. government regulations regarding prohibited transactions during your stay, and opt for privately-owned accommodations, such as bed and breakfasts (casas particulares), and privately-owned restaurants (paladares) whenever possible.

Record your cultural experiences through photographs, videos, or a travel journal to capture the essence of the cultural exchange and preserve your memories of the dynamic Cuban arts and cultural scene.

By applying for and obtaining a Cultural Exchange Visa, you can delve into the rich cultural heritage of Cuba, foster cross-cultural understanding, and create lasting connections during your visit to this captivating Caribbean nation.

Applying for a Religious Activities Visa

If you’re planning to engage in religious activities during your visit to Cuba, applying for a Religious Activities Visa is necessary. This visa category allows American travelers to participate in religious ceremonies, services, or volunteer work in Cuba. Here is a general guide on how to apply for a Religious Activities Visa for Cuba.

  • Identify your religious activities: Determine the specific religious activities you plan to participate in while in Cuba. This can include attending religious services, joining religious ceremonies, engaging in volunteer work for religious organizations, or studying and learning about Cuban religious practices.
  • Gather the necessary documents: Collect the required documents for your visa application. These may include a completed visa application form, a detailed itinerary of your planned religious activities, an invitation letter from a Cuban religious organization or institution, and any other supporting documents specified by the Cuban Embassy or Consulate.
  • Submit your application: Submit your visa application, along with all the required documents, to the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country. Ensure that the application is accurately filled out and that you have included all necessary supporting documents. Submit your application well in advance of your planned travel dates.
  • Prepare for an interview (if required): Depending on the country and specific circumstances, you may be required to attend an interview at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate. The purpose of the interview is to discuss your religious activities, provide additional information if needed, or address any concerns.
  • Allow for processing time: After submitting your visa application, be prepared to allow sufficient time for the embassy or consulate to review and process your application. Processing times can vary, so it’s advisable to submit your application well ahead of your planned travel dates.
  • Receive your visa: If your application is approved, you will be issued a Religious Activities Visa, granting you permission to travel to Cuba and engage in the specified religious activities. Double-check the visa for accuracy and validity dates.

During your visit to Cuba, focus on participating in the religious activities outlined in your itinerary. Attend religious services, partake in religious ceremonies, volunteer for religious organizations, or engage in studying the religious practices of Cuba.

Ensure compliance with the U.S. government regulations regarding prohibited transactions during your stay, and opt for privately-owned accommodations and restaurants that align with your religious beliefs and values whenever possible.

Document your religious experiences through photographs, videos, or a travel journal to capture the essence of your spiritual journey and preserve your memories of the religious landscape of Cuba.

By applying for and obtaining a Religious Activities Visa, you can deepen your spiritual understanding, connect with local religious communities, and have a meaningful visit to this captivating Caribbean nation.

Common Questions and Concerns

When planning a trip to Cuba and understanding the visa requirements, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. Here are some common inquiries that may arise:

  • Is it safe to travel to Cuba? Cuba is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. However, it’s always important to exercise caution, be aware of your surroundings, and follow any safety guidelines provided by the local authorities or your embassy.
  • Can I travel to Cuba for tourism purposes? While tourism to Cuba for Americans is still technically restricted, authorized travel under specific categories, such as people-to-people exchanges and support for the Cuban people, can encompass many tourist activities. Ensure your travel plans align with the authorized categories to comply with U.S. regulations.
  • What documents do I need to apply for a Cuban visa? The specific requirements may vary depending on the visa category, but common documents include a valid passport with sufficient validity, a completed visa application form, an invitation letter or detailed itinerary, proof of travel insurance, and any additional documents specified by the Cuban Embassy or Consulate.
  • How far in advance should I apply for a Cuban visa? It’s recommended to apply for a Cuban visa well in advance of your planned travel dates. Processing times can vary, so submitting your application a few months before your intended travel is advisable to allow for any unforeseen delays.
  • Can I extend my visa once in Cuba? Yes, it’s possible to extend your visa while in Cuba. Speak to the immigration authorities or a designated office in Cuba to inquire about the extension process and requirements.
  • Are there any restrictions on accommodations and dining in Cuba? As an American traveler, it’s recommended to avoid government-owned accommodations and prefer privately-owned bed and breakfasts (casas particulares) for your stay in Cuba. Similarly, opt for privately-owned restaurants (paladares) to support local entrepreneurs.
  • What should I do if I encounter any issues while in Cuba? In case of any issues or emergencies while in Cuba, contact your embassy or consulate for assistance. They can provide guidance, support, and any necessary consular services.

It’s crucial to stay informed about the latest travel advisories and regulations issued by the U.S. government and to check the official website of the Cuban Embassy or Consulate for any updates or changes to the visa requirements.

By addressing common concerns and seeking information from official sources, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience while complying with the regulations and requirements for traveling to Cuba.

Traveling to Cuba as an American citizen has become increasingly accessible in recent years, with relaxed travel restrictions and various visa categories designed to accommodate different purposes of travel. Understanding the visa requirements and application process is crucial to ensure compliance with both U.S. and Cuban regulations, as well as to make the most of your visit to this captivating Caribbean nation.

Whether you’re planning a leisurely vacation, pursuing educational opportunities, engaging in cultural exchanges, supporting the Cuban people, participating in religious activities, or exploring the vibrant arts scene, there is a specific visa category to cater to your needs.

By identifying the appropriate visa category, collecting the necessary documents, and submitting your application in a timely manner, you can obtain the required visa to travel to Cuba. It’s important to plan your itinerary within the authorized activities of your chosen visa category, keeping in mind any restrictions and prohibited transactions.

Be sure to prioritize supporting the Cuban people by staying in privately-owned accommodations, dining at privately-owned restaurants, and engaging in activities that directly benefit the local community and economy. Immersing yourself in meaningful interactions, cultural exchanges, or religious experiences will allow you to develop a deeper appreciation for the people, history, and rich heritage of Cuba.

Keep in mind that travel regulations can change over time, so it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest information from official sources such as the Cuban Embassy or Consulate and your own country’s government travel advisories.

With careful planning, adherence to the regulations, and a spirit of cultural curiosity, your trip to Cuba can be a remarkable and transformative experience. Embrace the warmth, charm, and vibrant atmosphere that this beautiful island has to offer, and create lasting memories that will stay with you long after you return home.

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Traveling to Cuba as a US Citizen: 2024 Complete Guide

Traveling to Cuba as a US Citizen: 2024 Complete Guide

Last Updated: December 15, 2022 January 3, 2024

Cuba has been a country shrouded in mystery and wonder for many Americans. Just 90 miles off the shores of Key West, it’s no surprise why many Americans wonder if they can visit Cuba. With continuous changes to travel restrictions and policies regarding Cuba, Squaremouth has compiled a detailed overview of everything you need to know, updated with the latest information regarding Cuba entry requirements , travel advice, and much more.

Can Americans Travel to Cuba? 

In short, yes, it is possible for Americans to visit Cuba. However, the country still remains off limits for tourist activities. This means U.S citizens currently cannot visit Cuba when the sole purpose of their trip is to sightsee, go to the beach, and explore.

In 2024, Americans that wish to travel to Cuba must fall into one of the 12 approved categories of travel, determined by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) .  Visiting Cuba is not as straightforward for Americans as it is for citizens of other nations, like Canada or the United Kingdom. U.S citizens can apply for a general license under one of the authorized categories, which can take anywhere from four to six months to process, according to regulation experts . The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba include:

  • Family Visits
  • Journalistic Activity
  • Professional Research and Meetings
  • Educational activities
  • Religious Activities
  • Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Exhibitions, Athletic and Other Competitions
  • Support for the Cuban People
  • Humanitarian Projects
  • Activities of Private Foundations, or Research or Educational Institutes
  • Official Business of the U.S. Government, Foreign Governments, and Certain Intergovernmental Organizations
  • Exportation, Importation, or Transmission of Information
  • Authorized Export Transactions

To apply for a license, or to learn more about the different categories of approved travel, visit the official OFAC website .

Cuba Travel Restrictions & Requirements

The U.S Passport is welcome and accepted at the Cuban borders. Most of the policies in place that prohibit tourist travel to Cuba come from the United States. Below are some of the main travel restrictions and requirements to keep in mind when traveling to Cuba.

Cuba Entry Requirements 

To gain entry to Cuba, Americans are required to possess specific documents upon arrival. It’s important to start gathering these documents as early as possible to avoid issues at the border. Below is a simplified list of entry requirements, compiled by Cuba Unbound . 

  • Return Travel Documents: Travelers must show proof of entry and departure dates in order to receive a valid visa. 
  • Valid Cuban Tourist Card/Visa: U.S citizens traveling to Cuba must acquire a valid Visa, also known as a Cuban Tourist Card. These cards can be purchased online for $50-$100, are valid for 30 days, and take roughly 48 hours to process. 
  • Certification of Travel Form: This document outlines the approved category in which U.S citizens are traveling to Cuba. 
  • Valid Passport : Americans are required to have a passport that is valid for the duration of their stay. 
  • Proof of Travel Medical Insurance : Cuba requires all foreigners to purchase medical insurance prior to entry.

Cuba Travel Insurance Requirements 

Since 2010, the Cuban government has required all visitors from abroad to provide proof of medical insurance when visiting the island. While there are no requirements on the amount of coverage travelers need, U.S citizens visiting Cuba must purchase a policy that includes Emergency Medical coverage, as well as Medical Evacuation & Repatriation coverage. Squaremouth recommends travelers visiting Cuba consider a travel insurance policy with at least $50,000 in Emergency Medical coverage, and at least $100,000 in Medical Evacuation & Repatriation coverage. Squaremouth’s Cuba Travel Insurance page provides more information and specific policy recommendations for travelers planning to visit the country.

Typically, single trip travel insurance premiums will equate to 5-10% of a traveler’s total insured trip costs. According to Squaremouth data, the average Cuba travel insurance policy cost travelers roughly $200.

Visiting Cuba From the U.S.

For more than 60 years, U.S travel to Cuba has been a complex issue. With that said, there are plenty of reasons why Cuba, home to more than 400 white-sand beaches and over 3,500 miles of coastline, has remained a desirable destination for American travelers. In relation to neighboring Caribbean countries, many of which are consistently among the most popular destinations for Americans, Cuba has a relatively low crime rate. With that said, the U.S Department of State’s Cuba Travel Advisory recommends exercising increased caution when visiting the island due to petty crime, such as theft, sometimes targeted towards tourists.

What Airports Fly to Cuba From the U.S?

Regardless of the complexities of traveling to Cuba as a U.S citizen, there are still multiple airports and airlines that provide non-stop flights to Havana, the nation’s capital. According to Simple Flying , eligible U.S citizens traveling to Cuba can find non-stop service from the following airports: 

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Texas
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA), Florida
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Florida
  • Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida

For those interested in which airlines fly directly to Cuba, SkyScanner shares that American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, jetBlue, and United all provide such services to eligible U.S citizens. 

Tour Republic

Cuba Tourist Card: 5 Ways to Get the Cuba Tourist Visa in 2023

If you go to Cuba for tourism, you almost certainly need a Cuba Tourist Card or Tourist Visa. But there is the green and the pink Tourist Visa, which one should you get? What if you are flying from the US?

This article will cover everything you need to know about the Cuba Tourist Visa, including how to apply for the right one depending on where you are flying from.

What Is the Cuba Tourist Card?

The Cuba Tourist Card (“ Tarjeta del Turista “), also known as Cuba Tourist Visa, temporarily permits foreign nationals to visit Cuba for leisure.

If you travel to Cuba for non-tourism purposes, you will need a regular visa .

Who Needs a Cuba Tourist Card?

Almost everyone traveling to Cuba for tourism needs a Cuba Tourist Card (“Tarjeta del Turista”). The only countries exempt from the Cuba Tourist Card are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bosnia, China, Dominica, Grenada, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Mongolia, Namibia, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Serbia, Singapore, and Vietnam.

How Long Can You Stay in Cuba With the Tourist Card?

The Cuba Tourist Card grants visitors a maximum stay of 90 days in Cuba. However, travelers can extend it to 180 days while on the island.

How Long Is the Cuba Tourist Card Valid For?

The Cuba Tourist Card does not expire before entering the country. Therefore, you can travel at any time after getting the visa.

Is the Cuba Tourist Card a Single-Entry or Multiple-Entry Visa?

The Cuba Tourist Card is a single-entry visa.

Pink or Green: What Cuba Tourist Visa Should You Get?

An interesting fact about Cuba is that Cuban Tourist Cards come in pink and green colors. The color depends on the country of origin you’re traveling from.

If you travel directly from the U.S. to Cuba, you’ll need a pink Cuban Tourist Card.

Travelers who fly to the island from a non-U.S. airport must bring a green Cuba Tourist Card. For example, if you are a Canadian flying to Cuba from the Toronto Pearson Airport, you need the green version.

Pink Cuban Tourist Card

Knowing the distinction between the two colors is easy, but knowing which one to buy can be trickier, especially if taking a multi-leg flight.

Before buying your card online, look at your itinerary and check the last airport you depart from: this airport determines which color card you need.

FYI: pink cards are pricier than green cards because of the rocky relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.

What Cuba Tourist Card Do You Need if Traveling From the U.S.?

If you fly to Cuba from the US, you’ll need a pink version of the Cuba Tourist Visa.

If you fly from a third country, you’ll need the green Tourist Card, even if you’re an American citizen!

Remember that the U.S. government has a few other stipulations for American travelers. For example, before you head to Cuba, you must declare a travel category, like Support for the Cuban People . It sounds tricky, but we promise that our article for Americans traveling to Cuba makes it easy.

What Are the Cuba Tourist Card Requirements?

The application process is easy, and you only need to fulfill a few requirements . Here’s what you need to get a Cuba Tourist Visa:

  • Valid passport
  • Application form
  • Travel itinerary
  • Travel health insurance (we recommend Insubuy for comprehensive travel medical insurance for Cuba )

If you only have the first two, you can still get started with your application. You’ll only need your itinerary and travel insurance when you arrive at the airport in Cuba.

How Much Does the Cuba Tourist Card Cost?

You can expect the Cuba Tourist Card to cost anywhere between $35 and $100 U.S. dollars, depending on where you get it. While the card’s price isn’t high, you may have to pay additional airline or shipping fees if you order it online.

Look at the section below for a more detailed price breakdown for each option.

How to Get a Cuba Tourist Card?

You can get the Cuba Tourist Visa online, from your airline or travel agency, or at the Cuban embassy in your country. There’s no right or wrong way, but you’ll probably find that some methods are easier or less expensive than others.

Here are the four ways to get a Cuba Tourist Card for your upcoming trip:

1. Buy it Online

This is by far the easiest way to get your Cuba Tourist Card. Sites like EasyTouristCard make ordering quick and convenient from the comfort of your home.

You can purchase it well ahead of time and have it mailed to your address within a week, so you don’t need to worry about picking it up at the last minute.

You’ll also be able to skip the Tourist Card line at the airport, so you have to stand in one less line before arriving in sunny Cuba.

2. Buy it From Your Airline

Some airlines allow you to purchase the Cuba Tourist Card directly from them. Every airline handles the Tourist Card process differently, so we recommend checking in with your airline of choice to ensure you’re on the same page.

Some airlines have you pick up your tourist card at the gate before boarding your flight, while others hand out the card mid-flight. If you need to pick up your card in person, pad in some extra time if there’s a line.

The cost of the Cuba Tourist Visa is usually bundled in with your flight, but the price itself (shown in USD) varies from airline to airline.

American Airlines : $85.00 ($50.00 visa price + $35.00 processing fee). Buy your card online or at the gate in Miami before departure.

Southwest : $75.00 ($50.00 visa price: + $25.00 processing fee). Order online or via phone and pick up your card at the Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) or Tampa (TPA) airport at the check-in or departure gate.

Delta : $50.00. Purchased at the gate.

Jet Blue : $50.00. Purchased from JetBlue at gateway airport.

Air Canada : Passed out during the flight.

United Airlines : $75.00 ($50 Visa price + $25 processing fee).

3. Buy it From Your Country’s Cuban Embassy or Consulate

This is the hardest way to buy the Cuba Tourist Visa since you have to go in person with the necessary paperwork . Price varies depending on the embassy, but you can expect to pay between $35 and $75 for the card.

4. Buy it from your travel agency

Traveling through an agency or tour company can be extremely helpful since they’ll take care of most of the details for you – as long as they’re reputable. Most travel agencies will bundle the Cuba Tourist Card into their existing Cuba travel packages.

5. Get it upon arrival

Technically, you can get the Cuba Tourist Visa at Havana Airport , or any other Cuban airport, for about $25 (you can’t purchase it in Cuban currency or U.S. dollars). However, you can’t even board your flight in most cases if you don’t have a Cuba Tourist Card.

If somehow you manage to get to Cuba without a card, prepare yourself for the experience of navigating the Cuban infrastructure, which could entail long lines, empty booths, and slow service. This will be a true test of your patience since you won’t be able to leave the airport until your Tourist Card is in hand.

Not Too Complicated, Right?

We hope this guide to getting the Cuba Tourist Card makes the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Bottom line: if your airline or travel agency didn’t include the Tourist Visa, it’s better to purchase it online. If you are flying from the US, get the pink one; if not, apply for the green one.

Have you recently traveled to Cuba with a Tourist Visa? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Essential Travel Logistics For Cuba

Cuban Tourist Card –  If your  Cuban Tourist Card (a.k.a Cuban Tourist Visa)  isn’t bundled into your airline ticket or travel package, buy it only through  EasyTouristCard . 

Travel Health Insurance –  Travel medical insurance is an entry requirement for Cuba, so you can’t skip it. Travelers can get travel health insurance for Cuba via  Insubuy . Travel protection benefits such as trip interruption and cancellation, baggage delay insurance, etc., are not required.

Essential Items to Pack –  Bring the essential travel necessities that you may not be able to get in Cuba:

  • First aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Water bottle with filter
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Pin adapter (for Europeans)
  • Travel guide
  • Spanish-English phrasebook
  • Suggested Reading: The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times

Read our complete packing list for Cuba .

Find Accommodations –  Find hotels or casas particulares (private accommodations) on Skyscanner , which lists thousands of accommodations available in Cuba.

Book Your Flight –  Book cheap flights to Cuba on Skyscanner , our favorite flight search engine to find deals on flights to Cuba.

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About the Author

Tour republic.

Tour Republic is a marketplace where you can discover, book, and review the very best experiences Cuba has to offer. We are a team of tourism professionals and journalists who have partnered with Cuban entrepreneurs to provide travel experiences that can transform your trip into a life-changing adventure. We also share our profound love for Cuba through in-depth travel guides, myth-busting articles, and captivating narratives. Whether you want to explore Cuba's wonders or understand its intricacies, our blog posts are your gateway to the heart of this extraordinary country.

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15 comments.

I want to go to the country

I am burundi citizen residing in saudi arabia, am willing to visit cuba but i can not buy online the cuba tourist card because they show me that the shipment is not possible. can you help me

Hello, About how long does it take for the online green visa to be approved?

i am citizen of Azerbaijan can I travel from US to Cuba or from Cuba to US?

Travelling to Cuba from Ontario, Canada with Air Transat. What is our process for the travel card? January 8, 2022

I am Singaporean. Flying to Havana via Paris. Do I need the tourist card?! Is it true that Singaporean exempted?

Watet bottle with filter ????

Can we not buy bottled water in Cuba??

yes you can, and some of your accommodations will arrange for it in advance. So, you just tell them how many bottles, and you pay your host

If I’m a citizen of the Philippines but traveling from the US, do I need to get a visa of Cuba?

Unfortunately, if you are traveling from the US, you will have to abide by the same rules as US citizens. So, you may consider a different route of travel.

Thank you – such a clear explanation, and the only one that answered every question for me!

I successfully made it to Cuba from Miami after years of doubts.

Can I use either the pink or green card ? I’m entering through jamaica and returning straight to the us

Hi, I have gone to the Cuba embassy in Mexico but surprisingly the visa they gave me is the same with the visa tourist after checking the one on your website here. Please are you sure they will allow me entry and will I still need to buy a cuba tourist card again. Your answer is greatly appreciated

Am a Nigerian tourist in Mexico, will I need a visa or just tourist card to go to Cuba from mexico, please kindly inform

Hi Adebisi, You will probably need a visa to Cuba. I would advise you to contact the Cuban embassy in Mexico to get a more accurate answer.

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What Americans need to know about traveling to Cuba

Making sense of the new travel policies and rules..

Stefanie Waldek

This year, Cuba ranked as the top trending destination in the 2023 Travelers' Choice awards , meaning Cuba-focused pages on Tripadvisor are seeing an increase in year-over-year activity.

But having swung back and forth throughout the last three American presidencies, the rules about visiting Cuba can be confusing, and it can be hard to keep them straight. Here’s what U.S. travelers need to know about planning a trip there now.

How has travel to Cuba changed in recent years?

Tourists in the busy Plaza De La Catedral in Havana, Cuba

American tourism on Cuba has been limited for decades, but in 2016, former President Barack Obama propped the door open, allowing everyday Americans to plan "people-to-people" trips—trips to visit with Cubans and learn about Cuban culture—on their own. (Previously, travelers could only visit with approved tour operators.) After decades of pause, cruises and commercial flights also resumed service to Cuba in 2016.

The following year, former President Donald Trump reversed that policy , eliminating the people-to-people option and organized group travel; banning cruises; and prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying into any other Cuban city besides Havana. Trump did, however, leave the door open for travel under the broad banner of "Support for the Cuban People," which, per The Washington Post , "required more direct aid to locals on the ground."

In 2022, President Joe Biden announced plans to resume people-to-people group travel in Cuba in a new capacity, though concrete details have yet to be released. (Individual travel is still restricted.) Biden also greenlit commercial flights to Cuban cities other than Havana to resume (though cruises are still banned).

What about now? Can Americans actually go to Cuba?

Classic car on a vibrant  street in Camagüey, Cuba

Yes. But not in typical tourist fashion, meaning you can’t fly to a beach resort and flop down the way you can in other Caribbean countries. But per the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba for a dozen state-sanctioned purposes, including family visits, journalistic activity, educational or religious activities, humanitarian projects, and Support for the Cuban People. It’s precisely that last banner under which many Americans travel to Cuba, and those types of trips must have a full-time schedule of activities sponsored by human-rights organizations or other organizations that promote democracy and/or civil society in some way. The activities must "[e]nhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities," per the CFR . Again: no lazy days on the beach.

Rules put in place by the U.S. government prohibit Americans from interacting with businesses owned by or affiliated with the Cuban government; to do so would be a violation of a decades-old trade embargo. That makes many hotels—which, in Cuba, are largely government-owned or government-affiliated—off limits (you can find the list of banned hotels on OFAC's restricted entities list ).

Instead, Americans are required to stay in casa particulares , civilian-owned, guesthouse-like private residences, dine at privately owned restaurants ( paladares ), and shop at privately owned stores owned by non-state-affiliated proprietors ( cuentapropistas ).

Which visa or documents do I need to travel to Cuba?

Cuba requires that all visitors have a visa before arrival. If you're visiting under the "Support for the Cuban People" category, you will need a tourist visa—also known as a tourist card—which grants up to a 30-day stay. (The visa options are listed out on the Embassy of Cuba website .)

The most common way to acquire a tourist visa is through your airline; you can purchase visas (usually between $50 and $85) at the airport before the flight. Because policies vary, be sure to confirm the details before your trip. You can also purchase Cuban tourist visas online through third-party companies or in-person at some Cuban consulates (call ahead to find out whether the nearest consulate offers them). Keep in mind: You will need to prove, typically in the form of a return plane ticket, that you’re planning on exiting Cuba before the visa expires.

Cuba also requires travelers to purchase non-U.S. health insurance, which is typically provided by your airline and included in the airfare. Otherwise, you can purchase it at the airport upon arrival in Cuba. Because of the pandemic, you must also fill out a health declaration form .

All of these rules can change quickly—and sometimes without warning—so it’s important to confirm policy specifics with the Embassy of Cuba before your trip.

On the U.S. side of the equation, there is no paperwork and you don't need to apply for a special license if you plan to travel to Cuba under one of the 12 approved categories. But you must carry an itinerary with you at all times that proves the purpose of your visit. You must also retain documentation of every transaction you make in Cuba for five years after your visit, which you may have to provide to OFAC if requested. Because these rules can change at any point, confirm them with the U.S. Department of State and OFAC before your trip.

Which US airlines fly to Cuba?

Downtown skyline in Havana, Cuba

In June 2022, Biden opened air travel to other Cuban cities besides Havana , including the beach-resort town of Varadero and historic city of Santiago de Cuba. Today, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines all run flights to Cuba from the U.S. Gateway cities with nonstop flights include several Florida cities, including Miami, as well as Houston and New York City.

What about currency and connectivity in Cuba?

  • There is Internet in Cuba, but it's widely known to be limited and slow. You will likely have to pay by the minute, and prices vary.
  • Many U.S.–based cell phone providers offer roaming coverage in Cuba, but check with your specific provider.
  • Credit and debit cards issued by American banks are not widely accepted in Cuba, and many businesses may not have an infrastructure to support international transactions, so you should bring cash and exchange it upon arrival at the airport, a bank, or a casa de cambio (CADECA) exchange house.
  • The only currency in Cuba is the Cuban peso (CUP). The Cuban convertible peso (CUC) ended circulation in 2021. That said, many businesses accept euros.

What else about Cuba should travelers be aware of?

In July 2021, during an extreme economic crisis, Cubans staged public demonstrations, protesting their lack of access to essentials like food, medicine, and electricity, as well Covid-19 restrictions. The government retaliated by detaining hundreds of protestors, some 700 of which were still imprisoned a year later . Protests continue to flare up, even as recently as this fall .

According to Human Rights Watch , "The Cuban government continues to repress and punish virtually all forms of dissent and public criticism. At the same time, Cubans continue to endure a dire economic crisis, which impacts their social and economic rights."

Given these circumstances, Cuba is facing the largest migration crisis in the country's history. In 2022, some 250,000 Cubans —a full 2 percent of the country's total population—left the country for the U.S., marking the largest exodus since the 1959 Cuban Revolution. As of this month, the United States has restarted visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba and plans to issue 20,000 visas to Cubans a year. Follow updates from the Department of State to be aware of the latest travel advisories .

tourist visa to go to cuba

20 things to know before visiting Cuba

Brendan Sainsbury

Jan 5, 2024 • 8 min read

tourist visa to go to cuba

Be ready for your visit to Cuba with these top tips on what to expect © Westend61 / Getty Images

To a first-time traveler, Cuba can seem like a confusing jigsaw puzzle, particularly if you’re breaking free of the resorts and traveling around on your own.

The Spanish spoken here is fast and hard to decipher, many streets have two different names and the country’s fickle and highly complicated monetary situation could fill its own guidebook. 

To help you be prepared, here is everything you need to know before planning a trip to Cuba.

1. Double-check your insurance

You are required to have medical insurance to visit Cuba and will need to bring digital or printed proof of your policy. Random checks are made at the airport. If you arrive without insurance, you’ll be asked to buy a Cuban policy at the airport for US$30.

2. Fill out your passenger information in advance

Cuba uses an online form called  D’Viajeros  to gather traveler information, including immigration and health data, in advance of travel. Fill out the form digitally up to 72 hours before your arrival in Cuba.

Friends sit on a coastal wall with their legs dangling over the sea and pose for a selfie

3. Every visitor needs a tourist card

To enter Cuba, all visitors need to present a completed tourist card . It’s usually available through your airline (ask when booking) and included in the price of your ticket.

If not, you can purchase one through a Cuban travel agency. Costs range from US$50 to US$85. Citizens of 20 African and Asian countries require a formal visa to enter Cuba. Check the situation for your country before booking.

4. Cash and currency: it’s complicated!

Money in Cuba is confusing, even to Cubans . Since the country abolished convertibles (CUC) in January 2021 and took the US dollar out of circulation in June 2021, there has been massive inflation and the emergence of a rampant black market. The knock-on effect is a bewildering dual economy.

The official currency of Cuba is the Cuban peso (CUP), but foreign currencies are also widely accepted, especially by private businesses who need hard cash to buy non-rationed goods in MLC (freely convertible currency) shops.

State-run enterprises and banks use official exchange rates. However, the prices of the superior services offered by private businesses generally reflect black market exchange rates.

Hence a main dish in a private restaurant in Havana will cost around CUP$500 (US$21). That’s an expensive meal if you’re paying in pesos bought from a Cuban bank.

However, most private restaurants will also accept payment in euros using a more favorable exchange rate. Some will even have a separate menu with prices printed in euros.    

When buying something from a private business – be it a restaurant, casa particular (private accommodation) or taxi service – it’s usually best to pay in a foreign currency. Always ask upfront what currencies they accept and what exchange rate they use for their published peso prices.

Euros is the most interchangeable currency and the one preferred by Cubans. You can also use and exchange Canadian dollars and pound sterling.

US dollars still circulate on the black market, but we don’t recommend bringing them. The best bet, when you arrive, is to keep most of your money in a foreign currency and only change small amounts into pesos for incidentals like museum entry, concert tickets and tips.

5. MLC is a currency with no cash form

The Moneda Libremente Convertible (MLC) is a currency approved by the Cuban government in 2020 that can be used in certain shops to buy higher-end goods.

The currency doesn’t exist as cash and its value is pegged with the US dollar. It’s used mainly by Cubans with special magnetic cards. 

Tourists needn’t worry too much about MLC$, although prices will sometimes be displayed in the currency in state-run enterprises such as cigar shops or airport souvenir stores where you can pay with a non-US credit card.

6. Only some credit cards will work

Credit cards are increasingly popular in Cuba and in many state-run businesses are the preferred (and sometimes only) method of payment.

Despite promises made in the Obama era, credit cards linked to US banks are not accepted. Private businesses almost never have credit card machines, meaning your only option is cash.

A blue classic car passes a cowboy-hatted man on a horse on a dirt road leading into Vinales, Cuba

7. Pack your favorite casual clothes – and men need a shirt

Dress in Cuba is casual, so you can leave your high heels and tux behind. The only real dress code is in cinemas, theaters and nightclubs, where male patrons are required to wear long trousers and shirts with sleeves or half-sleeves.  

8. Cuban Spanish is fast and often informal

If you speak Spanish, you’ll find that Cubans mostly use the informal tú form of address, rather than usted . In the plural, ustedes is used over vosotros .

If you don’t know someone, it’s best to address them as señor or señora , though you’ll hear Cubans use all kinds of substitutes such as socio , hermano , papa , chica/o  and asere .

9. Cuban cities are where the streets have two names

In most Cuban cities, the streets have two names: a contemporary one that is noted on maps and marked on street signs, and a pre-revolutionary one that is still used widely by the locals.

This can become confusing, especially when locals, unaware of the new street names, start giving out directions or addresses using the colloquial nomenclature. Always double-check addresses and, if possible, get two potential names for the street you’re looking for.

10. Understand the local art of queueing

Cubans have to endure a lot of long waits in boring queues, so they’ve invented a way of doing it that doesn’t involve standing in line. In a Cuban queue, you simply roll up at the bakery/clinic/visa office and yell out to the assembled masses, "Quien es último?" (Who’s last?).

Hopefully, someone in a 400m vicinity will answer your polite entreaty with the word, "yo" (me). That person is your yardstick. As long as they’re still around, feel free to go for a walk, sit in the lotus position or buy ice cream. When they get called up, be on your toes, you’re next!

11. Ask questions more than once  

Thanks to heavy bureaucracy, answers to simple requests aren’t always straightforward – or even correct. Probe politely and ask at least five different people before you make important decisions.

12. Bring something to keep you warm on a cold bus journey

Cuba has a countrywide state-run bus service called  Víazul that connects all of the main cities and some of the smaller towns. Prices are charged in MLC$ (the same rate as the US$) and tickets must be paid for with a credit card either in person or online.

A second service called Conectando, run by Cubanacán, also puts on buses in peak season along some of the more popular routes. Bring a sweater/jacket for long bus rides – the air-conditioning is akin to a chilly day in Vancouver.

Woman with camera in a candid shot in Trinidad, Cuba

13. Cuba is considered a safe place to travel

Cuba is one of the safest countries in the Americas in terms of violent crime. Pick-pocketing is more common but not rampant, and is mostly avoidable if you follow a few basic precautions: Wear a money belt, use safe boxes in hotel rooms and don’t flash your cash in public.

14. Solo female travelers report receiving unwanted attention

Solo female travelers report experiencing a good deal of unwanted attention, but it didn't necessarily spoil their enjoyment of traveling in Cuba.

There is a fine line between being open and friendly and harassment, and some men can cross that line by being overly familiar or asking too many personal questions. Learn some key phrases in Spanish that make it clear when you're not interested.

15. Beware of forgeries

Never change money with unlicensed traders on the streets. You run the risk of receiving estafas (forged notes).

16. Bring your own medicines

On one level, Cuba has a good health system (it invented and quickly distributed three COVID-19 vaccines); on the other, it is perennially short of pharmaceuticals.

Bring all the prescription medications you think you’ll need, as well others you might like ibuprofen or paracetamol. If you’d like to donate some medicines to the people of Cuba, it is currently possible to bring in 10kg of medical supplies tax-free (pack them in a separate bag). 

Portrait of an Afro-Cuban woman smoking cigar and smiling in Havana, Cuba

17. Avoid dodgy cigars

Cuba has its share of jineteros (touts) spinning elaborate stories about super-cheap, high-quality cigars procured by their brother/mother/cousin from the factory. Don’t believe them. Instead, buy your cigars in state-run shops such as the Casa del Habano chain. Cigars sold on the street are invariably factory cast-offs and not genuine.

18. Driving is not as easy as you think

With light traffic on the road, driving might seem like an easy proposition, but with elevated rental prices and cars often in short supply, it’s not always so.

Add in sporadic signposting, potholed roads and a wide array of hazards – goats, horses, bicycles, kids and slow-moving, fume-belching trucks – and you might want to consider getting the bus or, at least, employing the services of a chauffeur.

19. Bring toilet paper and sanitary products

The pandemic made the provision of antiseptic hand lotion more common, but the same can’t be said of toilet paper. Carry your own roll and/or gravitate to four- or five-star hotels when you’re caught short in the city.

Re-usable pads and silicon cups, or disposable pads and tampons are must-pack items if you're expecting your period while you're in Cuba. These are in high demand here.

20. Don’t drink the water

The water won’t kill you, but it might give you a little queasiness or an upset stomach. Fortunately, bottled water is abundant and cheap. An even better idea is to bring your own filter bottle or water purification tablets.

This article was first published February 2022 and updated January 2024

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Havana Times

New Requirements for Travelers to Cuba as of Jan. 23

tourist visa to go to cuba

Cuba implements digital form for in advance visitors Customs declarations as well as personal and flight information

By El Toque

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban government will require, as of January 23, 2023, a digital customs declaration for travelers entering the country. The declaration is part of a more extensive digital form (which also contains immigration and health information) that will be mandatory for visitors, both Cubans and foreigners.st

The digital form called D’ VIAJEROS ―which had been on test since November 2022― was definitively implemented by the Ministry of Transportation. The form is intended to replace the old paper affidavit format that passengers arriving in Cuba must fill out.

The questions on the form are designed to obtain advance information from those who need to enter Cuba and must be completed 48 hours before the trip in order to be shown, in the form of a QR code, to the airline and border authorities. The form can be accessed thr: https://dviajeros.mitrans.gob.cu/inicio

D’ VIAJEROS demands a series of mandatory data and other things of an optional nature. In its filling out, the visitor will find five sections: one is Customs; another to provide general information (name, surname, gender -it only allows you to choose between male and female-, country of birth, residence and travel document or passport); another for immigration information (arrival date, flight number, point of entry to Cuba and reasons for the trip); another for health data related to COVID-19; and finally the declaration of veracity of the data, which warns that “any omission or inaccuracy violates the provisions of the Cuban authorities.”

Changes in Customs regulations: personal baggage and parcel shipment

Back on August 15, 2022, new measures for the non-commercial importation and shipment of packages to Cuba entered into force. What are the main changes with the new requirements?

After filling out the online form, the site will generate a QR code that will be sent to the email that the passenger provides to the system. The traveler must keep the code in print or on their phone, since the airline’s representatives will request it prior to boarding and, in Cuba, the immigration and customs authorities will request it after arrival.

Cuban Customs approved the use of D’ VIAJEROS to collect the information that the institution needs from each person who enters the country. In the regulations, the institution agreed that the customs declaration, contained in D’ VIAJEROS, will also be available in paper format when the visitor does not have, for some reason, the online form.

The data that will be required on a mandatory basis are: the passenger’s general data, the airline flight data and the list of items to be imported, equipment or others, their quantity and value, and if they have technical authorization from the Ministry of Communications to import telecommunications equipment.

The amount of foreign currency that is brought in is also declared, but only if the amount exceeds five thousand dollars or other currencies or equivalent payment instruments. The possession of weapons of any kind, ammunition, drugs or substances with a similar effect, live animals, equipment or components for wireless telecommunications, products of animal or vegetable origin, articles for commercial purposes, cultural goods and pornography must be declared.

In a press conference, covered by the Cuban News Agency, directors of Cuban Aviation, Customs and the Ministries of Public Health and Tourism specified that the new platform will “facilitate and improve the experience of travelers in their transit through immigration, customs, and public health services, contributes to health controls, reduces the exchange of documents with the authorities, and speeds up procedures at the different air terminals by providing advance information.”

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

  • River at Sunset in Matanzas, Cuba – Photo of the Day
  • The Communist Party of Cuba’s Best Factory

2 thoughts on “ New Requirements for Travelers to Cuba as of Jan. 23 ”

and what EXACTLY are the questions that relate to covid vaccines? is a negative pcr test required to board an airplane into cuba?

Anyone who knows how things work in Cuba also know the official justification for this digital change is a pile of horse manure.

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Travel to Cuba

U.s. to cuba travel policy.

Flying to Cuba from or through the U.S. for tourism is not allowed. There are 13 permitted reasons for travel:

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalistic activities
  • Professional research or professional meetings
  • Educational academic activities
  • People-to-people exchanges (for travel related transactions purchased prior to June 5, 2019)
  • Religious activities
  • Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
  • Travel related to certain authorized export transactions

Federal regulations on travel to Cuba Opens another site in a new window that may not meet accessibility guidelines

If you aren't traveling for one of the 13 reasons, there are 2 other ways to enter Cuba:

  • With a license issued by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
  • As a Cuban National returning home

Apply for an OFAC license Opens another site in a new window that may not meet accessibility guidelines

If you don't qualify for one of the 13 permitted reasons, have an OFAC license or identify as a Cuban national returning home, you will not be permitted to travel to Cuba.

Additional travel requirements

Everyone entering Cuba must have a visa and health insurance with coverage in the area. For insurance, a $25 fee is added to your ticket price.

Special visa requirements apply to Cuban-born travelers, regardless of citizenship.

Preparing for travel

What to bring.

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa, travel card or Cuban passport

You can buy a travel card online or at Miami (MIA) before departure.

Buy travel card Opens another site in a new window that may not meet accessibility guidelines

Few U.S.-issued cards are accepted in Cuba and service isn't guaranteed. Contact your bank before traveling.

Online check-in for flights to Cuba is unavailable. You must check in at the airport to provide reason for travel – allow up to 3 hours to complete the process. If you're flying from Miami (MIA), look for the 'Cuba Ready' booth by Checkpoints 1 and 2 to check your documents and get your boarding pass stamp.

Changes to bag limitations for checked bags have been updated as of March 14, 2023. Bag fees may apply for checked bags.

  • Checked bag policy
  • Bag limitations

Connections

When you get to the gate at your connecting airport, look for the 'Cuba Ready' booth to check your documents and get your boarding pass stamp.

Travel Visas for Cuba

Last Updated September 18, 2023

Tourist Card

Almost all tourists visiting Cuba, need to obtain a tourist 'visa' which is called the  Cuban Tourist Card .

The tourist card is valid for 90 days. Make sure you do not misplace this while in Cuba - you cannot leave the country without it.

Note: Are you flying to Cuba via the US? Or are you are a US citizen? You will need a different “pink” Visa and will also need to complete the documentation to make a legal visit to Cuba under US rules. Read more here!

How to obtain your Cuban Tourist Card (visa)

The way you get your tourist card will depend on the route you are taking to Cuba. Although some airports in Cuba sell the visa, most airlines will not let you board a flight to Cuba without one. Here are our suggestions on how to get the tourist card from the most popular routes:

Purchase the Tourist Card from Cuban Adventures

We sell Tourist Cards in Australia! If you are residing in Australia and are an Australia, New Zealand, or UK passport holder, you can purchase the tourist card from us, regardless of whether you are booked on a tour. We ship only within Australia and the tourist card is not valid if you are flying directly from the US to Cuba.

Buy My Tourist Card

Flying via Latin America

If you are flying from Latin America or the Caribbean (e.g. Mexico, Panama, Cayman) to Cuba you can purchase your visa at the airport during check-in for your flight to Cuba, it takes only a few minutes. The cost is approximately US$25-30 and can sometimes be paid with credit card in addition to the local currency. Verify with your airline in case of changes. You can also purchase in advance from a third-party visa service.

Flying via Canada

If you are flying from Canada the visa is usually included with your flight. Verify with your airline. 

Flying via Europe

If you're flying from Europe, the easiest way to get your visa is to buy from a third-party servicer. There are several companies that will ship the visa to your home. Make sure you order the tourist card with sufficient time to receive it before your trip. If you are not eligible for these services or prefer to deal directly with the consulate, you can find your local consulate here or check out the links below.  

Flying via US

See US visa information.

Visa requirements for foreigners traveling to Cuba, are  liable to change and can be dependent upon your nationality .

Nationalities Requiring a Consular Visa

Passport holders from some countries are not able to use the tourist card, they must contact the Cuban Consulate for a visa. Currently, these countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. This list may change at any time, check with your consulate for more information.  

Official government websites with information specific to the traveller's nationality

CANADA  

  • Cuban Consulates in Canada  (Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto)
  • Canadian Embassy in Cuba  (Havana)
  • US Bureau of Consular Affairs
  • USA Customs and Border control  (to apply for your online visa waiver)
  • Cuban Embassy in the UK  (London)
  • Cuban Consulate in Australia  (Canberra)
  • Department of Foriegn Affairs  - Smart Traveller

NEW ZEALAND

  • Safe Travel  for New Zealanders
  • Cuban Consulate in NZ  (Wellington)

OTHER COUNTRIES

  • All Cuban Embassies Worldwide  - Click to access your local Cuban Embassy and Consular services, including tourist card applications.

Travelling via the US

Yes, that’s right, even if you aren’t a US citizen or resident, if you travel to Cuba via the US (specifically if you fly directly to Cuba from a US port or fly from Cuba directly to a US port) then you will need a different Visa (a “pink” one!) that you will purchase during check in for your Cuba flight. 

You must also be prepared to comply with legal travel to Cuba under US regulations as if you were an American! In simple and somewhat misleading terms, this is often called a “license”, but it is really just a set of guidelines to adhere to, and a box to check, which will be easy to do if you are taking one of our tours . Usually, travellers select the general license category  Support for the Cuban People  .

The technical reason for this oddity is that any foreigner on US soil is deemed to be under US jurisdiction and therefore subject to the laws of their land.

Read more about purchasing the pink visa .

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tourist visa to go to cuba

  • Passports, travel and living abroad
  • Travel abroad
  • Foreign travel advice

Entry requirements

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Cuba set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Cuban Embassy in the UK .

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Cuba.

Passport validity requirements

To enter Cuba, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive and 3 months after your planned departure date.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

If you’re visiting Cuba as a tourist, you need to get a tourist card before you travel. Apply through the Cuban Embassy in the UK or check with your travel agent or tour operator.

You must also show proof of onward or return travel. See Cuba’s consular services information for details.

For more information and advice about other types of visas, contact the Cuban Embassy in the UK .

Overstaying your visa

The authorities take any breach of immigration rules seriously. You could be detained if you overstay your visa.

Checks at border control

You must complete the arrival form on the D’Viajeros traveller information portal at least 72 hours before you arrive. You’ll get a QR code to show to the authorities on arrival.

Travelling from the USA to Cuba      

Under US law, you are not allowed to travel directly from the USA to Cuba for tourism.

There are 12 reasons or categories for which the USA authorities will approve direct travel from the USA to Cuba. For more information see the  US Department of the Treasury website , the  US State Department’s travel advice for Cuba and the Code of Federal Regulations .

Travelling from Cuba to the USA

You cannot travel from Cuba to the USA without a US visa.

Vaccine requirements

You must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from a country listed as a transmission risk .

For full details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Cuba guide .

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into and out of Cuba . You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Art and antiques

Some art and antiques require an export permit from the Country Heritage Office (‘Bienes Culturales’). Ask the vendor if they have the required permit for the item you are buying. At the airport, you may need to show the receipt.

Photography equipment

You may need an import licence for photography equipment, as well as the appropriate journalism visa.

You are not allowed to bring drones into Cuba. They will be confiscated on arrival and not returned until your departure. The process for getting your drone back could be lengthy.

You cannot take meat products, milk, fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds or organic matter into Cuba, with some exceptions .

Electrical items and GPS on mobiles

Some electrical items with heavy power consumption may be confiscated on entry to Cuba.

Global Positioning Systems ( GPS ) are subject to import requirements. Mobile phones, tablets and laptops can be taken to Cuba, but you must turn off any inbuilt GPS .

Complete a customs form if items are confiscated on your arrival so you can collect them on your departure date.

Taking money into Cuba   

The Cuban national peso (CUP – ‘moneda nacional’) is the official currency and cannot be exchanged outside of Cuba. Declare foreign currency you’re taking into Cuba if the value is more than 5,000 US dollars.

You must only exchange money at the Cadeca exchange houses. It is illegal to exchange money anywhere else. See Money .

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tourist visa to go to cuba

Latest update

Exercise a high degree of caution in Cuba due to the threat of violent crime.

Cuba

Cuba (PDF 747.63 KB)

Americas (PDF 3.25 MB)

Local emergency contacts

Fire and rescue services, medical emergencies, advice levels.

Exercise a high degree of caution in Cuba.

  • Violent crime, such as robbery and assault, occurs. Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Petty crime, such as theft, is common on public transport, in tourist areas and at the airport. Only use established tour operators and registered taxis. Don't put valuables in your checked luggage.
  • The hurricane season is from June to November. Hurricanes can cause flooding and disrupt services. Know your hotel or cruise ship's evacuation plan. Find your nearest shelter.
  • Cuba is in an active earthquake zone. Tsunamis can also happen. Know the tsunami warning signs and move to high ground straight away. Don't wait for official alerts.

Full travel advice:  Safety

  • Many medications are in short supply or unavailable. Ensure you bring enough for your entire trip.
  • Insect-borne diseases, including dengue and chikungunya, are common. Ensure your accommodation is insect-proof. Use insect repellent. 
  • Zika virus is a risk but isn't widespread. If you're pregnant, discuss your travel plans with your doctor.
  • Waterborne, foodborne, and other infectious diseases are common. These include typhoid and hepatitis. Drink only boiled or bottled water. Avoid raw or undercooked food.
  • Public medical facilities in Havana are basic. Private clinics are well-equipped, but only one in Havana treats foreigners. All clinics require an upfront payment. Ensure your travel insurance covers medical evacuation.

Full travel advice:  Health

  • Don't use or carry illegal drugs. Penalties for drug offences are severe. They include long prison sentences.
  • Always carry a photo ID. Officials can detain you if you don't have it.
  • It's illegal to photograph military or police sites, harbours, and rail and airport facilities. Check with officials before taking photos.
  • Get local legal advice before preaching religion or importing religious material. It may be illegal.
  • Cuba doesn't recognise dual nationality. Contact a  Cuban embassy, consulate, or  local authorities for details before travelling.

Full travel advice:  Local laws

  • Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. You should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Cuba for the latest details.
  • There's currently a severe shortage of fuel in Cuba. This is disrupting transport and other services.
  • There are severe shortages of food and bottled water. Keep a supply with you.
  • You need a visa to enter Cuba. If your visit is for tourism, you can get a 'tourist card' through your travel agent, airline or  embassy or consulate of Cuba . The tourist card includes a tourist visa.
  • You're required to fill in an  online declaration form . 
  • If you've travelled to Cuba since January 2021, you won't be eligible to participate in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). You also won't be able to enter or transit the US on an ESTA, and you’ll need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy .
  • Canadian dollars, Mexican pesos and Euros can be exchanged at currency exchange stores. There's a large commission fee if you want to change US currency. Australian currency can't be exchanged in Cuba. Other currencies may be difficult to exchange.
  • Cuba's banking arrangements can make it hard to access money through US banking systems. This may include your Australian bank cards. Carry cash, cards and traveller's cheques from non-US banks. Take an emergency supply of cash, including enough to leave Cuba if your bank cards don't work.

Full travel advice:  Travel

Local contacts

  • The  Consular Services Charter  details what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you.
  • Australia doesn't have an embassy or consulate in Cuba. The  Embassy of Canada  in Havana provides consular help to Australians in Cuba. They can also issue Australian  provisional travel documents .
  • You can also get consular assistance from the  Australian Embassy in Mexico . 
  • To stay up to date with local information, follow the embassy's social media accounts.

Full travel advice:  Local contacts

Full advice

Violent crime

Foreigners may experience violent crimes, such as  assault ,  sexual assault  and  robbery .

Petty crime

Pickpocketing, bag snatching and other petty crime is common, especially on public transport and intercity buses.

It also happens at major tourist areas such as:

  • the Malecon
  • the beaches of Playa del Este, Varadero and Santiago de Cuba

Power outages are common and can last from minutes to several hours. The opportunity for theft increases during these outages.

Thefts from hotels and guesthouses occur. Keep the doors and windows at your accommodation locked.

Airport-based crime

People have reported thefts from checked baggage at Cuban airports.

When travelling through airports, keep a close eye on your valuables, including during security screening.

Keep your valuables on you or place them in your carry-on baggage on flights. Don't check in:

  • electronics

Criminals posing as tour agents or taxi drivers operate at the airport and in Havana.

Road-based crime

Thieves may slash car tyres and help with repairs while an accomplice steals from the vehicle.

Thieves who pose as hitchhikers are also common.

To protect yourself from road-based crime:

  • only use established tour operators and registered taxis
  • keep doors locked, windows up, and valuables out of sight, even when moving
  • don't pick up hitchhikers
  • be wary of people who offer to help if your car is damaged

If you're a victim of crime or theft, get a written police report (Comprobante de Denuncia) from the Cuban police (Policia Nacional) before you leave Cuba.

Cyber security

You may be at risk of cyber-based threats during overseas travel to any country. Digital identity theft is a growing concern. Your devices and personal data can be compromised, especially if you’re connecting to Wi-Fi, using or connecting to shared or public computers, or to Bluetooth.

Social media can also be risky in destinations where there are social or political tensions, or laws that may seem unreasonable by Australian standards. Travellers have been arrested for things they have said on social media. Don't comment on local or political events on your social media.

More information:

Cyber security when travelling overseas

Terrorism is a threat worldwide.

Climate and natural disasters

Cuba experiences  natural disasters  and  severe weather , including:

  • severe storms
  • earthquakes

If a natural disaster happens:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof place
  • closely monitor local media and other sources
  • follow the advice of local emergency officials
  • keep in contact with friends and family 
  • get local advice before entering affected areas

Register with the  Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System  to receive alerts on major disasters.

If you're travelling to Cuba during hurricane season or after a natural disaster, monitor weather reports. Contact your tour operator or airline to check if the severe weather has affected your travel plans.

More information :

  • Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency

Hurricanes and severe weather

The hurricane season is from June to November. Landslides, mudslides and flooding also occur. The direction and strength of hurricanes can change suddenly.

If there's a hurricane or severe storm:

  • you may not be able to leave the area
  • flights could be delayed or suspended
  • available flights could fill quickly
  • you may not be able to access ports
  • roads could be blocked

Natural disasters can disrupt essential services. This includes power, communication systems, emergency and medical care, food, fuel and water supplies.

In some areas, adequate shelter from a hurricane may not be available if you stay.

If a hurricane is approaching:

  • know your hotel or cruise ship's evacuation plans
  • identify your local shelter
  • closely monitor alerts and advice from the  US National Hurricane Center  and local authorities

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Cuba is in an active earthquake zone. Tsunamis can also happen.

Familiarise yourself with earthquake safety measures for each place you stay and visit.

To receive tsunami alerts, register with the  Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System .

Move immediately to high ground if advised by local authorities or if you:

  • feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up
  • feel a weak, rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
  • see a sudden rise or fall in sea level
  • hear loud and unusual noises from the sea

Do not wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media.

  • US Geological Survey

Civil unrest and political tension

Local authorities may break up demonstrations or gatherings not sanctioned by the government. They may also block access to the Internet, including social media, without notice. Be aware that participating in demonstrations in Cuba might be illegal.      

To protect yourself during periods of civil unrest:

  • avoid protests, demonstrations and public gatherings
  • monitor the media for reports of potential unrest, and avoid those areas
  • leave an affected area as soon as it's safe
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • Demonstrations and civil unrest

Travel insurance

Get comprehensive  travel insurance  before you leave.

Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.

If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.

If you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.

  • what activities and care your policy covers
  • that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition. 

See your doctor or travel clinic to:

  • have a basic health check-up
  • ask if your travel plans may affect your health
  • plan any vaccinations you need

Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.

If you have immediate concerns for your welfare, or the welfare of another Australian call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or contact your  nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate  to discuss counselling hotlines and services available in your location .

  • General health advice
  • Healthy holiday tips  (Healthdirect Australia)

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Cuba. Take enough legal medication for your trip.

Many medications are in short supply or unavailable in Cuba.

Carry a copy of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating:

  • what the medication is
  • your required dosage
  • that it's for personal use
  • Embassy or consulate of Cuba

Health risks

Insect-borne diseases

Outbreaks of  dengue  and  chikungunya  are common. Risks are higher during the wet season, from April to November.

Zika virus  is a risk, but it's not widespread. If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends you discuss travel plans with your doctor. Consider deferring non-essential travel to affected areas.

To protect yourself from disease:

  • make sure your accommodation is insect-proof
  • use insect repellent
  • wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing

Get medical help if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

Other health risks

Waterborne, foodborne and other  infectious diseases  are common. These include:

  • leptospirosis
  • viral meningitis
  • conjunctivitis

Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.

Outbreaks of  cholera  are seasonal and common.

Medical care

Medical facilities.

Public medical facilities in Havana are basic. 

Standards are limited in smaller towns and rural areas.

Private medical facilities are well-equipped. However, the only private hospital for travellers in Havana is the Cira Garcia Hospital.

State-run Servimed clinics can provide emergency medical care in major tourist areas.

Doctors and hospitals require cash payment before treating you.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you may be evacuated to get proper care. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our  Consular Services Charter . But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Penalties for drug offences are severe. They include lengthy prison sentences in local jails.

  • Carrying or using drugs

You must always carry photo ID. Authorities can detain you if you're found without it.

Contact the  Embassy of Canada  in Havana if you lose your Australian passport or other identification documents.

Serious crimes, such as espionage and mass murder, can attract the death penalty.

Under Cuban law, charges aren't laid until the investigation is complete.

If you're accused, you can be jailed during the investigation.

In Cuba, it's illegal to:

  • drink-drive
  • engage in black-market activities
  • take photos of military or police sites, harbours, rail or airport facilities

Get local legal advice before preaching religion or importing religious material. Doing so may be illegal.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.

  • Staying within the law and respecting customs

Dual citizenship

Cuba doesn't recognise dual nationality.

If you're a dual national, this limits the  consular services  we can give if you're arrested or detained.

  • Dual nationals

Visas and border measures

Every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders. For specific information about the evidence you'll need to enter a foreign destination, check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering. 

Visitor visas

You need a visa to enter Cuba.

If your visit is for tourism, you can get a 'tourist card' through:

  • your travel agent or airline
  • an  embassy or consulate of Cuba

The tourist card includes a tourist visa.

In other situations, you need to apply for a visa.

You're required to fill in an  online declaration form . 

Entry and exit conditions change can at short notice. Contact an  embassy or consulate of Cuba  for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.

Travel via Canada

If you're travelling via Canada, ensure you meet all entry and transit requirements.   

More information:  

·         Travel advice for Canada  

Travel via the United States

If you're  travelling through the US , ensure you meet all current US entry or transit requirements, even if you are transiting through Hawaii. 

·         Travel advice for the US

Travel via Chile

If you’re travelling via Chile , ensure you meet all current entry or transit requirements.

  • Travel advice for Chile

Impact on US ESTA by travelling to Cuba

If you've travelled to Cuba since January 2021, you're not eligible to participate in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). You can’t enter or transit the US on an ESTA, including for medical evacuations. You’ll need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy . Contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate for details.

Other formalities

You must show proof of comprehensive travel insurance to enter.

You need to purchase extra insurance from Asistur, the Cuban insurance provider if you:

  • plan to do a high-risk sport or compete in a sport
  • are aged 70 years or older

To contact Asistur, call +53 7866 4499.

The list of duty-free items that you can take into Cuba is limited. If customs authorities consider any item isn't for personal use, they can seize it. Equipment that draws heavily on electricity or uses satellite technology can also be confiscated.

Contact the nearest  embassy or consulate of Cuba  for details about official requirements for minors travelling without their parents.

A departure tax is included in the cost of your airline ticket.

Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.

Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.

You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.

The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting  a new passport .

Lost or stolen passport

Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.

Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:

  • In Australia, contact the  Australian Passport Information Service .
  • If you're overseas, contact the nearest  Australian embassy or consulate .

Passport with ‘X’ gender identifier

Although Australian passports comply with international standards for sex and gender, we can’t guarantee that a passport showing 'X' in the sex field will be accepted for entry or transit by another country. Contact the nearest  embassy, high commission or consulate of your destination  before you arrive at the border to confirm if authorities will accept passports with 'X' gender markers.

  • LGBTI travellers

Cuba's official currency is:

  • the National Peso (moneda nacional or CUP)

Canadian dollars, Mexican pesos and Euros can be exchanged at currency exchange stores. There's a large commission fee to exchange US currency. Australian currency can't be exchanged in Cuba. Other currencies may be difficult to exchange. 

Due to the banking arrangements in Cuba, you may have difficulty accessing funds.

Credit cards, debit cards and traveller's cheques aren't accepted in Cuba if they're issued by US banks or Australian banks affiliated with US banks. This includes:

  • all American Express cards
  • all Westpac Bank cards
  • some Visa and MasterCard cards, depending on the issuing bank

Before you travel, check with your bank if your cards will work in Cuba.

International money transfer agencies aren't available to Australians in Cuba.

Authorities have detained and deported travellers without access to funds. If you run out of money in Cuba, you can try to have funds transferred via Asistur. Services don't run on weekends and can take several days. To contact Asistur, call +53 7866 4499.

ATMs are limited outside Havana. Make sure you have a variety of ways of accessing your money, including:

  • cash, debit or credit cards from various non-US banks
  • traveller's cheques issued by non-US banks

Take an emergency supply of cash, including enough to leave Cuba if your bank cards don't work.

Local travel

Due to severe shortages, Cuban authorities are rationing food and medication. This can affect travellers. Plan ahead and keep a supply of drinking water, food and medication with you.  

Driving permit

To drive in Cuba, you'll need both:

  • your valid Australian driver's licence
  • a valid International Driving Permit (IDP)

You must get your IDP before leaving Australia .

To hire a motor vehicle, you must be at least 21 years old.

Road travel

Cuba is facing a chronic shortage of fuel, which is impacting transport and other government services throughout the country. You can expect disruptions to your visit. 

Driving in Cuba is dangerous, particularly at night.

Hazards include:

  • poor street signs and lighting
  • poorly maintained roads and vehicles
  • pedestrians, farm animals, bicycles and unlit carts on roads

If you're involved in an accident, you're likely to be detained, regardless of who's at fault.

You may not be allowed to leave Cuba until the case is resolved.

If you drive in Cuba:

  • check you have adequate insurance cover
  • learn local traffic laws and practices
  • be alert to possible hazards, especially at night

Cuba has strict alcohol laws. It's illegal to drive with any alcohol in your bloodstream.

  • Driving or riding

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.

Always wear a helmet.

Criminals posing as drivers operate at the airport and in Havana.

Mopeds and 3-wheeled 'Coco-taxis' are particularly dangerous.

To protect yourself from crime:

  • only use registered taxis
  • avoid unlicensed private taxis
  • avoid mopeds or 3-wheeled 'Coco-taxis'

Public transport

Avoid public transport. Many vehicles are poorly maintained.

DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.

Check  Cuba's air safety profile  with the Aviation Safety Network.

Emergencies

Depending on what you need, contact your:

  • family and friends
  • travel agent
  • insurance provider

Always get a police report when you report a crime.

Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Consular contacts

The  Consular Services Charter  explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to help Australians overseas.

Australia doesn't have an embassy in Cuba. The  Embassy of Canada  in Havana provides consular help to Australians in Cuba. They can also issue Australian  provisional travel documents .

You can also get consular help from the Australian Embassy in Mexico.

Canadian Embassy, Havana

Calle 30 No.518 (esq. 7ma)  Miramar (Playa)  Ciudad de la Habana, 11300, Cuba Telephone: (+53 7) 204 2516  Fax: (+53 7) 204 2044 Email:  [email protected]   Website:  canadainternational.gc.ca/cuba

Australian Embassy, Mexico City

Ruben Dario 55, Polanco  Colonia Bosques de Chapultepec, CP  11580 CDMX Mexico Telephone: +52 55 1101 2200  Email:  [email protected]   Website:  mexico.embassy.gov.au Facebook: @AusEmbMex Twitter:  @AusEmbMex

Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.

24-hour Consular Emergency Centre

In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
  • 1300 555 135 in Australia

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What You Need To Be Aware Of As A Tourist Visiting Cuba

B eaches with white sand as fine as sugar, vintage American cars cruising down streets lined by colorful aging buildings, and the chance to puff on a fine cigar while watching people dance the salsa in the warm night air: It's not hard to understand the picture-postcard allure of Cuba. It's a country in the throes of rapid change as it emerges back onto the world stage after decades of stagnation following the 1959 revolution. So now is a wonderful time to pack your dancing shoes and visit the Caribbean's largest island.

However, Cuba isn't an uncomplicated tropical paradise and there are several things you need to be aware of before you visit as a tourist. Like, as an American, is it even legal for you to visit Cuba as a tourist? What's with the money situation? And can you access the internet or are you going back to the Stone Age (also known as the early 1990s)?

Can Americans Visit Cuba?

Cuba is just 103 miles from the tip of Florida making it the ideal winter getaway for sun-seeking Americans. However, the U.S. imposed restrictions on travel to Cuba in 1963 and while the level of restrictions has varied over the years, as of July 2023, Americans can't visit Cuba purely for tourism purposes.

That said, there are 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba, and the one that most Americans visiting the island use is the "support for the Cuban people" category. You'll need a passport with six months validity at the time of entry and two blank pages. You also need a Cuban Tourist Card, which you can usually get from your airline for as little as $50.

Speaking of airlines, you can fly direct to Cuba from several U.S. cities, including Miami, Tampa, New York City , and Houston. Most direct flights from the U.S. land in the Cuban capital of Havana, though there are several nonstop flights from Miami to other destinations in the country, including Santiago de Cuba and the popular beach resort of Varadero.

Cuban Currency

There's good news and, let's say, tricky news when it comes to paying for things in Cuba. The good news is that there is now one currency used by residents and visitors alike in the country: the Cuban peso (CUP). The Cuban convertible peso (CUC), which used to be the currency used by tourists, was eliminated in 2021.

The only official place you can exchange currency in Cuba is at Cadeca exchange houses. You cannot get CUP outside of Cuba, nor should you take the currency home with you. Spend or exchange anything you have left over before you go to the airport (after security, you should pay in foreign currency).

What about credit cards? U.S. credit and debit cards won't work in Cuba. Credit cards from major financial institutions like Visa and Mastercard from other countries should be accepted by certain businesses and ATMs. However, cash is king in the country and it's always a good idea to keep some with you for tips to service workers.

The Internet In Cuba

Cuba is the perfect place to go on a digital detox. We're going to be honest: Getting online isn't as easy as in the U.S. and internet speeds can be sluggish. However, if you need to connect to the internet, you can. The most common way to access the internet in Cuba is via hotspots in places like public parks and on the Malécon in Havana. (They are also perfect for people-watching, so embrace the experience!) Many hotels and some other businesses also have Wi-Fi.

To access the internet in most places you're going to need a NAUTA card, which you can purchase from ETECSA offices around Cuba. Be prepared to stand in line to buy the card and take your passport along with you. Our advice? Be patient and make the most of your offline moments to fully immerse yourself in the Cuban experience. And plan to latergram your posts on Insta.

Sleeping And Eating

When it comes to accommodation in Cuba, you'll find a range of options. From all-inclusive beach resorts to cozy casas particulares, you'll find somewhere to suit your preferences and budget. Our pick for independent travelers is a casa particular, a privately owned guesthouse which offers a fantastic opportunity to experience Cuban hospitality firsthand. Many places offer breakfast and an evening meal, so you can taste home-cooked Cuban food. It's also an excellent way to support the Cuban people (this is likely the stated purpose of your visit, after all) as the money you pay goes directly to the guesthouse owners. In contrast, the Cuban government holds at least a 51% share in all hotels in Cuba. Hotel star ratings are often on the generous side, so be discerning.

As far as food goes in Cuba, your best bet is to go to a paladar, a privately run restaurant that serves excellent versions of classic Cuban dishes like roast pork, shredded beef, and suckling pig (the cuisine is pretty meat-forward). A note on cultural sensitivity: Many products that are widely available in the U.S. might not be in Cuba and even basic products often disappear from Cuban shops at short notice. Savor what's put on your plate and enjoy the often simple but tasty food.

How To Support And Respect The Cuban People

Staying in casas particulares and eating at paladares are just two ways that you can support the Cuban people on your trip. Consider taking a salsa class run by a local, buying locally made handicrafts, and whiling away the steamy nights sipping rum and listening to musicians put on a fabulous show. By patronizing local businesses, not only are you financially supporting the Cuban people, but you're also going to have an authentic Cuban experience.

We touched on the unavailability of some food items earlier, but shortages extend to many consumer products in Cuba. Bring everything you think you'll need for your trip, including medications. You may also want to bring a roll of toilet paper (glamorous, we know), as public bathrooms often don't have it. Power cuts are common; while they might be frustrating, remember that you're only there for a short time and, for Cubans, power cuts are infuriating, so keep your complaints to yourself. This goes for everything, really; if you're not prepared for some minor inconveniences, don't visit Cuba. If you want to take a memorable trip to a country steeped in history with a vibrant culture, stunning urban architecture, and beautiful natural landscapes, it'll all be worth it.

Read this next: The World's Best Places To Put On Your Travel Bucket List

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COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

Cuba travel advice

Latest updates: The Need help? section was updated.

Last updated: January 18, 2024 14:15 ET

On this page

Safety and security, entry and exit requirements, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate, cuba - exercise a high degree of caution.

Exercise a high degree of caution in Cuba due to shortages of basic necessities including food, medicine and fuel.

Resort areas - Take normal security precautions

  • Cayo Largo del Sur
  • Cayo Santa Maria

Guardalavaca

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Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs.

Theft generally occurs in crowded places such as:

  • tourist areas
  • public buses
  • night clubs

It can also occur in isolated areas.

Theft from hotel rooms, particularly in private accommodations ( casas particulares ), and from cars is common.

  • Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • Don’t pack valuables in your checked luggage
  • Avoid showing signs of affluence
  • Keep electronic devices out of sight
  • Carry valid identification at all times
  • Keep a digital and a hard copy of your ID and travel documents
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash
  • Never leave belongings unattended in a vehicle, even in the trunk

Violent crime

Incidents of violent crime are not frequent, but assaults may occur. They mainly occur during a burglary or robbery.

  • Stay in accommodations with good security
  • Keep your windows and doors locked at all times
  • If threatened by robbers, don't resist

Credit card and ATM fraud may occur.

Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Some businesses may try to charge exorbitant prices, namely taxis and classic car rentals. Disputes about overcharging may lead to violence.

  • Always confirm prices before consuming or taking up a service
  • Avoid running a tab
  • Avoid leaving your credit card with bar or restaurant staff
  • Check your bill to make sure it’s exact

Some hustlers specialize in defrauding tourists. Most of them speak some English or French and go out of their way to appear friendly. They may offer to serve as tour guides or to facilitate the purchase of cigars. Some have used violence in their efforts to steal tourists.

Fraudulent tour agents and taxi drivers also operate throughout the country, including at Havana’s international airport. Thefts of luggage from taxi trunks have occurred.

In bars, sex workers, including minors, may be very persistent and intrusive with tourists who refuse their advances. Foreigners, including Canadians, have been the victim of theft after engaging in sexual relations, and some of them have faced child sex accusations.  

  • Use reputable tour operators and registered taxis only
  • Avoid independent street vendors
  • Be wary of strangers who seem too friendly

Overseas fraud

Cuba faces chronic and severe shortages of ‎basic necessities, including:

  • bottled water
  • public water supply
  • hard-currency

Fuel shortages are currently critical and affect a wide range of services. Travelling across the island is extremely challenging. Public transportation services, including taxis, are often disrupted, leaving tourists with few options to travel. Some travellers have been temporarily stranded with a rental car. Intermittent shortages of tap water provided by municipalities happen, including in Havana and in resorts.

Hotels and resorts, that often use generators during power outages, may not be able to maintain their services. Fuel shortages may also affect government services.

Local authorities enforce the rationing of food and medications, which could also affect travellers.

Shortages may lead to disruptions to other essential services. There are often long line-ups at gas stations that have led to altercations.

  • Plan accordingly
  • Bring some basic necessities with you such as toiletries and medication
  • Keep a supply of water, food and fuel on hand
  • Make sure you always have access to a complete emergency kit

Power outages

Power outages occur regularly outside of Havana and touristic areas.

Obtaining services during an outage is challenging.

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of sexual harassment

Incidents of sexual assault against Canadian women have occurred, including at beach resorts.

If you’re the victim of a sexual assault, you should report it immediately to the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy and seek medical assistance. You should also report the incident to Cuban authorities and ensure that local police provide you with a Comprobante de Denuncia. This document confirms that a report has been filed.

A criminal investigation will likely not be possible if no formal complaint is made to Cuban authorities before you depart the country.

Police officers may speak only Spanish.

Advice for women travellers

Spiked food and drinks

Snacks, beverages, gum and cigarettes may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

  • Be wary of accepting these items from new acquaintances
  • Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers

Telecommunications

The telecommunications network in Cuba is poor. Connections are unreliable and may be intermittent.

Some Canadian cell phones may not work, even in large cities. Internet access is limited across the island.

Local authorities control telecommunications. They may block access to mobile phone and Internet in case of civil unrest or before demonstrations.

  • Don’t rely on your mobile phone for emergencies, especially outside major cities
  • Subscribe to and install a VPN service before leaving Canada
  • Avoid travelling alone
  • Inform a family member or friend of your itinerary

Online transactions

Online banking or shopping may be challenging in Cuba, if at all possible. Most Cuban websites are unsecure. Many are inaccessible.

Some travellers, who bought their travel package online on a travel website in Canada, found out on arrival in Cuba that their hotel received no reservation or payment.

  • Avoid online shopping
  • Check with the hotel if they accept online reservations and payments if you plan to book online

Demonstrations

Demonstrations sometimes occur, even if taking part in them may be illegal. Local authorities will break up political demonstrations or gatherings not sanctioned by the government. They may also block access to the Internet, including social media, without notice.

Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic, public transportation.

  • Don’t participate in demonstrations
  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Water activities

Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards. Tidal changes can cause powerful currents, and riptides are common. Not all beaches have lifeguards or warning flags to warn of hazardous conditions.

  • Never swim alone or after hours
  • Don’t swim outside marked areas
  • Monitor weather warnings
  • Avoid visiting beaches or coastal areas during periods of severe weather warnings
  • Don’t dive into unknown water, as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death
  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas

Tour operators and diving centres may not adhere to international standards.

If you undertake adventure sports, such as diving:

  • choose a reputable company that has insurance
  • ensure that your travel insurance covers the recreational activities you choose
  • don’t use the equipment if you have any doubts about its safety

Recreational boating

If you are planning to go boating:

  • know the navigation rules
  • make sure life jackets are available for all passengers
  • follow safe practices for all water activities such as jet-skiing, water-skiing or fishing
  • don’t overload your boat capacity
  • carry a VHF marine radio that will generate your position in case of emergency
  • be prepared for emergencies

Water safety abroad

Road safety

Road safety standards are poor throughout the country. Accidents causing fatalities are common.

Road conditions

Road conditions are poor throughout the island, with the exception of the Central Highway, which runs west to east across the country. Driving may be dangerous due to:

  • poorly maintained roads
  • lack of signage
  • Inadequate lighting
  • roaming livestock
  • horse-drawn carts
  • pedestrians
  • slow-moving traffic

Most Cuban cars are old and in poor condition. They often lack standard safety equipment. Some cars and most bicycles don’t have functioning lights.

Driving habits

Some drivers don’t respect traffic laws. Many of them, driving an electric vehicle for which licence and registration are not required, are inexperienced and unqualified. Drinking and driving is also common.  

If you choose to drive in Cuba:

  • do so defensively at all times
  • avoid travelling at night
  • travel in groups when possible
  • never pick up hitchhikers, who have been known to assault drivers

Public transportation

City buses are scarce, overcrowded and poorly maintained. Bus service is not reliable.

Incidents of pickpocketing are frequent.

Tour companies offer good bus service between airports and the all-inclusive resorts. Buses used for organized day trips from hotels are usually in good condition.

Official taxis are generally reliable.

Old-model private vehicles offered as taxis are not equipped with standard safety features. They have no insurance coverage for passengers in case of an accident.

  • Use only registered taxis
  • Avoid flagging a taxi down on the street
  • Never share a taxi with strangers
  • Agree on a fare before departure, as taxis are not equipped with meters

The rail network is comprehensive, connecting most of the island, but it’s unreliable and slow. Train service is limited to Cuban nationals only.

Health incidents

The Government of Canada continues to investigate the potential causes of unexplained health incidents reported by some Canadian diplomatic staff and dependents posted to Havana.

There is no evidence that Canadian travellers to Cuba are at risk.

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the Cuban authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the  Foreign Representatives in Canada .

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for the expected duration of your stay in Cuba.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

  • Foreign Representatives in Canada
  • Canadian passports

Tourist visa: required Family visa: required Business visa: required

Tourist card

Canadian tourists travelling to Cuba need a visa, known as tourist card. The tourist card allows you to stay in Cuba for up to 90 days. The tourist card is generally included in holiday packages provided by tour operators or airlines providing direct flights from Canada. If you go to Cuba on your own or transit via another country, you are responsible for obtaining the tourist card from a Cuban government office in Canada. You may also buy it at some airports in Canada and in the United States.

Length of stay

As a Canadian tourist, you may stay in Cuba for up to 6 months.

However, you must obtain an extension of stay if you intend to stay longer than the initial 90-day period allowed by the standard tourist card.

D’Viajeros traveller information portal  – Government of Cuba

Arrival form

You must provide information on your arrival in Cuba via an online form within 72 hours before entering the country.

Once done, you will receive a QR code by email.

You must show an electronic or printed version of the QR code to authorities upon arrival.

Health insurance

You must show proof of valid health insurance to enter Cuba.

All health insurance policies are recognized in Cuba, except those issued by U.S. insurance companies. However, the Cuban immigration authorities will decide which proof of health insurance is acceptable.

Proof of health insurance may be:

  • an insurance policy
  • an insurance certificate
  • a Canadian provincial health insurance card

If you don’t have proof of health insurance or if the proof you present doesn’t satisfy the Cuban immigration authorities, you may have to obtain health insurance from a Cuban insurance company upon arrival. This insurance may have limited coverage. Local authorities may refuse your entry to the country.

Canadian provincial health care coverage provides very limited coverage outside Canada. It won’t pay for medical bills up-front. It does not include air evacuation, and neither does Cuban health insurance.

Cuban authorities won’t let you leave the country with outstanding medical bills, which are payable by credit card only. You will need to remain in Cuba until all debts are paid.

  • Make sure you purchase the best health insurance you can afford
  • Ensure the insurance includes medical evacuation and hospital stays

More on Travel insurance

Other entry requirements

Customs officials will ask you to show them:

  • a return or onward ticket
  • proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay
  • proof that you have a place to stay if arriving with “air only” tickets

Dual citizenship

If you’re both a Canadian and Cuban citizen, you must:

  • present your valid Cuban passport to the immigration authorities to enter Cuba
  • have a valid Canadian passport to return to Canada

If you were born in Cuba, you should contact a Cuban government office in Canada before you leave to ensure compliance with Cuban regulations, regardless of your current citizenship. Failure to do so may result in your being refused entry into Cuba or being detained upon entry.

Canadian permanent residents

You will not be able to leave Cuba if you are a Canadian permanent resident and are without a valid permanent resident card. If your card is lost or stolen, you must contact the Canadian Embassy in Havana to obtain a travel document that will allow you to leave the country. This procedure can take up to 10 working days. Once the document is ready, you'll need to make an appointment with the immigration section of the Canadian Embassy in Havana to collect it before returning to Canada.

Permanent resident travel document: How to apply

Health screening

You may be subjected to a medical screening or interrogation by public health authorities when you enter or exit Cuba, or when reporting for domestic flights.

You may be subject to a mandatory quarantine for medical observation for up to 7 days if local authorities believe that:

  • you have come in contact with a suspected carrier of one of these viruses
  • you’re arriving from a country with a known epidemic

Children and travel

  • Travelling with children

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Relevant Travel Health Notices

  • Global Measles Notice - 31 August, 2023
  • Zika virus: Advice for travellers - 31 August, 2023
  • COVID-19 and International Travel - 31 August, 2023

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your  routine vaccinations , as per your province or territory , are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Yellow fever   is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country   where yellow fever occurs.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • Contact a designated  Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre  well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada * It is important to note that  country entry requirements  may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest  diplomatic or consular office  of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

Practise  safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

In this destination, rabies is carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions , including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. Rabies treatment is often available in this destination. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

  Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Typhoid   is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Salmonellosis is a common illness among travellers to this country. It can be spread through contaminated food or beverages, such as raw or undercooked poultry and eggs, as well as fruits or vegetables.

Practice safe food and water precautions . This includes only eating food that is properly cooked and still hot when served.

Pregnant women, children under 5 years of age, those over 60 years of age, and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill.

Most people recover on their own without medical treatment and from proper rehydration (drinking lots of fluids).

  • Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Travellers with severe symptoms should consult a health care professional as soon as possible.

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a country.  Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

  • In this country,   dengue  is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites . There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.

Zika virus   is a risk in this country.

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause   serious birth defects .

Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should   visit a health care professional   before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.

Travel recommendations:

  • Prevent mosquito bites   at all times.
  • If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Women:   Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
  • Men:   Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.

For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice:  Zika virus: Advice for travellers

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette , which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •   washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) , HIV , and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Medical services and facilities

Good health care is limited in availability.

The health system is government-owned. The Cuban government operates hospitals and clinics throughout the island.

Medical professionals are generally adequately trained. However, facilities are in poor condition. They lack basic drugs, medical supplies and equipment. Hygiene practices may be inadequate.

Medical services are also available at most hotels and international clinics located in resort areas, where doctors and nurses provide initial emergency medical care reserved for foreigners. Health care provided in those clinics is usually better than services offered in public facilities.

Mental health care facilities are extremely limited. There are no hotlines available for this type of care in the country.

Emergency and ambulance services are limited. Response times may be slow, especially outside tourist areas.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

 Many prescription medications may not be available in Cuba.

If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining their legality in the country.

  • Bring enough of your medication with you
  • Always keep your medication in the original container
  • Pack your medication in your carry-on luggage
  • Carry a paper and an electronic copy of your prescriptions

Cuba faces severe medicine shortages, including antibiotics and common pain killers. In addition of your prescription medication, you should also bring your own basic medicine in sufficient quantities to last beyond the length of your intended stay.

Public health authorities implement insect control measures including periodic fumigation and aerial spraying.

  • Consult your doctor before traveling to see if the situation could affect you, especially if you suffer from respiratory ailments
  • Stay away from a nearby fumigation process

Death abroad

Standards of mortuary services in Cuba differ from those in Canada. Cultural and religious beliefs are not taken into consideration. Autopsies are mandatory.

There is one funeral home and one morgue in the country which cater to foreigners. Both are located in Havana. Only these facilities have the authorization to issue appropriate documentation to accompany human remains. Timelines for the repatriation of human remains are long and costly.

The capacity for refrigeration is limited, as well as the availability of coffins and urns. Embalming materials and techniques are unlike those in Canada. Embalming may not be an option in some circumstances.

Ensure your insurance includes coverage for the repatriation of human remains.

Death Abroad Factsheet

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a   travel health kit , especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad .

Transfer to a Canadian prison

Canada and Cuba accede the Treaty between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Cuba on the Serving of Penal Sentences. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Cuba to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Cuban authorities. This process can take a long time, and there is no guarantee that the transfer will be approved by either or both sides.

Cuban criminal justice

The criminal justice system in Cuba differs significantly from that in Canada. Charges are not laid until the investigation is complete. If you’re arrested in Cuba, you will likely be detained during the entire period of investigation. You should expect long delays to resolve your case. You will not be allowed to leave the country during this period.

Cuba’s constitution allows the death penalty, but since 2003, the country has effectively had a moratorium on carrying out death sentences.

Investments

Private property rights in Cuba are strictly controlled. Only Cubans and permanent residents can buy a property in Cuba or register a privately owned vehicle. Be wary of strangers or acquaintances offering to purchase these items on your behalf. If you plan on making investments in Cuba, seek legal advice in Canada and Cuba. Do so before making commitments. Related disputes could take time and be costly to resolve.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy prison sentences.

  • Pack your own luggage and monitor it closely at all times
  • Don’t transport other people’s packages, bags or suitcases

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Child sex tourism

It's a serious criminal offence to have sex with minors in Cuba.

Local authorities are actively working to prevent child sex tourism. Tourists, including Canadians, have been convicted of offences related to the corruption of minors aged 16 and under.

Prison sentences for this type of crime range from 7 to 25 years. Release on bail before trial is unlikely.

Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime

 To get married in Cuba, you must provide several documents including:

  • your birth certificate
  • a copy of your passport
  • your decree absolute certificate if divorced
  • a death certificate for your spouse and a marriage certificate if widowed
  • an affidavit of your single status if you have never been married before

All documents must be translated into Spanish, certified, authenticated and legalised by the Embassy of Cuba in Canada.

 Consult the Embassy of Cuba in Canada if you wish to marry in Cuba, including to a Cuban national.

  • Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada
  • Marriage overseas factsheet

Drones are prohibited.

They will be confiscated by the authorities upon entry.

Photography

Professional photographers require a visa to work in Cuba. They may also need a permit to import their equipment.

It’s forbidden to photograph, including with drones:

  • military and police installations or personnel
  • harbour, rail and airport facilities

Military zones and any other restricted or heavily guarded areas are not always identified.

Identification

Authorities may request to see your ID at any time.

  • Keep a photocopy of your passport in case it’s lost or seized
  • Keep a digital copy of your ID and travel documents

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Cuba.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of Cuba, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

Travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Cuba.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Cuba by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Cuba to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

  • International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
  • Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
  • Emergency Watch and Response Centre

Imports and exports

Personal effects and medicine.

Tourists are allowed to enter Cuba with personal effects but items entering the country for donations may be subject to import rules. They could be seized and taxed in accordance with local legislation. This includes:

  • new or used material goods
  • personal care products
  • medications

Cuban customs officials have the authority to decide what they deem to be for the tourist's personal use. They may apply steep tariffs for personal baggage exceeding the allowable weight.

You may export:

  • up to 20 cigars without documentation
  •  up to 50 cigars if they are in their original container, closed and sealed with the official hologram

If exceeding these amounts, you must provide a guarantee of origin certificate.

Failure to comply with this regulation will lead to the seizure of the cigars without compensation.

Art objects

Art objects, including artifacts and paintings purchased in Cuba, must be accompanied by an export permit. It’s usually provided by state-owned galleries.

In the absence of such a permit, items must be registered with the Registro Nacional de Bienes Culturales.

Ministry of Culture – Government of Cuba

Electronic devices

Electronic devices with GPS technology may be confiscated upon entry and returned upon departure.

Satellite telephones are forbidden.

Electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers

You cannot bring electronic cigarettes or personal vaporizers to Cuba.

Customs officials will seize these items upon arrival.

Black market

Street vendors may offer you black-market goods, such as cigars, or ask to change dollars for Cuban currency.

Engaging in black-market transactions is illegal and can lead to difficulties with the Cuban authorities.

Cuban Customs Administration  – Government of Cuba

Boat traffic

The U.S. government closely monitors boat traffic in the Straits of Florida. It will seize any vessel not bearing a licence from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) if it believes it’s headed for Cuba.

You’re subject to these measures if you dock your Canadian-registered boat in Florida. You’ll be exempted if you are simply en route to Cuba via the U.S.

If travelling by boat to Cuba from the US:

  • Make sure to know the regulation related to docking and port controls
  • Expect thorough search and interrogations

You should carry an international driving permit.

International Driving Permit

Traffic accidents

Traffic accidents have led to arrest and detentions of Canadians in the past.

Accidents resulting in death or injury are treated as crimes. The onus is on the driver to prove innocence. If you’re found to bear responsibility in a traffic accident resulting in serious injury or death, you may face up to 10 years in prison.

If you’re involved in an accident:

  • don’t leave the scene
  • don’t move your vehicle
  • call the police

While car insurance is mandatory for foreign drivers and foreign-registered vehicles, it's not for Cuban citizens. As a result, most local drivers don't carry a car insurance. You shouldn’t expect compensation for vehicle damage or personal injury from a Cuban driver following a car accident.

Vehicle rentals

Car insurance coverage in Cuba differs from that in Canada.

Rental agencies are government-controlled. If you’re found to be at fault in an accident, the rental agency will nullify your coverage and seek compensation to cover the cost of repairs.

Cuban authorities can prohibit you from leaving the country unless the rental agency receives payment or until all claims associated with an accident are settled.

Contract agreements don’t cover occasional drivers. As a result, the signatory is responsible for all people driving the vehicle.

  • Be cautious if you rent a vehicle in Cuba
  • Avoid renting a scooter; thieves target them and you may be responsible for the cost of its replacement
  • Make sure to obtain a receipt when returning a rental vehicle

The currency of Cuba is the Cuban peso (CUP).

Credit cards issued by U.S. financial institutions or affiliated with U.S. banks are not accepted in Cuba.

Canadian credit cards are increasingly accepted at restaurants and hotels. However, the system is unreliable and bank cards may not work or may stop working without notice.

ATMs are rare and also unreliable. Each withdrawal is limited to 5 000 CUP, when possible.

You may obtain credit card cash advances at banks, hotels or a state-run exchange bureau, but in CUP only.

When travelling to Cuba, you should plan to bring enough currency to cover the duration of your stay. You should also plan for small bank notes to facilitate daily transactions such as, street food, taxis and tips.  

You can easily exchange Canadian and American dollars, as well as euros for CUP at:

  • the money exchange bureaus in Cuba’s international airports
  • major hotels
  • official exchange bureaus

It’s illegal to change money on the street or anywhere else other than authorized entities.

You cannot go through Cuban customs with more than 5 000 CUP.

Hurricane season

Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.

These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.

If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:

  • know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
  • stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
  • carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
  • follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
  • Tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons
  • Large-scale emergencies abroad
  • Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings  - United States’ National Hurricane Center

Rainy season

The rainy season extends from April to October.

Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the delivery of essential services. Roads may become impassable due to mudslides and landslides. Bridges, buildings, and infrastructure may be damaged.

Earthquakes

Cuba is located in an active seismic zone.

Earthquakes may occur. Even minor earthquakes can cause significant damage.

In the event of an earthquake:

  • monitor local media to stay informed of the evolving situation
  • follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders
  • Earthquakes – What to Do?
  • Latest earthquakes  - U.S. Geological Survey

Local services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 106
  • medical assistance: 104
  • firefighters: 105

Consular assistance

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Cuba, in Havana, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services .

Risk Levels

  take normal security precautions.

Take similar precautions to those you would take in Canada.

  Exercise a high degree of caution

There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

IMPORTANT: The two levels below are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are issued when the safety and security of Canadians travelling or living in the country or region may be at risk.

  Avoid non-essential travel

Your safety and security could be at risk. You should think about your need to travel to this country, territory or region based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with the region, and other factors. If you are already there, think about whether you really need to be there. If you do not need to be there, you should think about leaving.

  Avoid all travel

You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk. If you are already there, you should think about leaving if it is safe to do so.

ncesc-geographic-faq

Can Brits travel to Cuba?

geographic-faq

Yes, British citizens can travel to Cuba for tourism purposes.

Do UK visitors require a visa to travel to Cuba?

Yes, UK visitors are required to apply for a Cuban visa. For the moment, iVisa does not provide this type of eVisa. But you can always check your eligibility for an eVisa and more information here.

Do British tourists need a valid passport to visit Cuba?

Yes, British citizens must have a valid passport to visit Cuba.

Where can British tourists obtain a Cuban visa?

Visas can be purchased from www.visacuba.com/tui, and are available at a discounted rate for TUI customers.

What is the duration and validity of a Cuban visa for UK citizens?

Upon arrival in Cuba, your Cuban Tourist Card grants you a single entry and exit, with a stay of up to 90 days. If you wish to extend your Cuban escapade, you can renew this card locally for an additional 90 days, totaling a maximum stay of 180 days for tourists in Cuba.

Can British passport holders obtain a visa from the Cuban Consulate in London?

Yes, UK passport holders can obtain a visa to visit Cuba either from the Cuban Consulate in London or purchase it from visacuba.com and have it delivered to their address.

Is it safe for British tourists to travel to Cuba?

Cuba has one of the lowest crime rates in the Western Hemisphere. Violent crime is rare, and petty crimes like pickpocketing are infrequent, especially in tourist areas. British tourists can feel safe exploring the country.

Which airline offers non-stop flights from the UK to Cuba?

Virgin Atlantic services non-stop flights to Havana Jose Marti International from London Heathrow Airport (LHR), while TUI Airways offers direct flights from London Gatwick Airport (LGW) to Varadero Juan Gualberto Gomez.

What is the cheapest time of year for British tourists to visit Cuba?

The cheapest months to go to Cuba are May to early June and mid-September to October. Prices rise during the school holiday periods of Christmas, Easter, and July to August; British tourists can find cheaper flights and accommodation options outside of these times.

Do EU citizens need a visa to enter Cuba?

Yes, all citizens from an EU country need a visa to enter Cuba.

What language do they speak in Cuba?

The official language of Cuba is Spanish or Cuban Spanish, a form of Caribbean Spanish, that the vast majority of Cubans speak.

What items are prohibited to bring to Cuba?

It is prohibited to bring into the country narcotics, explosives, pornography, any item (including literature) intended to be used against national security, animals and plants regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, GPS, cordless phones, and more.

Is it safe for British tourists to travel to Cuba in 2023?

President Biden lightened restrictions on Trump-era policies for Americans entering Cuba so it is perfectly legal to visit Cuba in 2023, provided you meet a few requirements.

Can UK citizens retire in Cuba?

Yes, UK citizens can retire in Cuba. They must meet the immigration requirements of visa renewal and reporting their place of residence to the immigration department. They must also obtain government-run medical health insurance.

Why did Virgin Atlantic stop flying to Cuba?

Through a press release, the carrier confirmed the decision to suspend its return to Havana, stating that it was motivated by the complexity of operating in Cuba, without giving further details.

Can British tourists still travel to Cuba despite the US travel restrictions?

People-to-People travel allows every American to come to Cuba, meet islanders, and enjoy cultural, artistic, and educational activities – the same as traveling to any other country. Yet caveats remain. Cuba travel must be hosted by a tour company based in the United States.

Which countries can British tourists enter Cuba without a visa?

No Cuban visa or tourist card is required for a visit with a maximum duration of 30 days for nationals of Singapore, Belarus, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Mongolia, and Namibia.

Can British tourists fly from Cuba to the USA?

The UK places no restrictions on entering Cuba — and it’s easy enough to get to as a tourist. However, British tourists may not be able to enter the US on an ESTA after visiting Cuba; instead, they will need a more expensive visa.

Is Havana safe for British tourists?

Cuba has one of the lowest crime rates in the Western Hemisphere. Violent crime is rare, and petty crimes like pickpocketing are infrequent, especially in tourist areas. British tourists can feel safe exploring Havana.

What is the life expectancy in Cuba compared to the UK?

In 2007, the life expectancies at birth were as follows: Cuba, 78.26 years; World, 68.76 years; Latin America and Caribbean, 73.13 years; high-income OECD countries, 79.66 years; United States, 77.99 years.

Is it safer for British tourists to travel to Cuba or Mexico?

Cuba is considered safer than Mexico. British tourists can feel safer traveling to Cuba compared to Mexico due to its low crime rates.

Why is Cuba cheaper compared to other countries?

Cuba’s economy has been poor for many decades, which has contributed to its relatively low cost of living. The average income for Cubans is low, and the country has had two currencies (CUP and CUC) that have affected the cost of goods and services.

Can British tourists retire in Cuba on a limited budget?

Yes, British tourists can retire in Cuba on a limited budget. Some places in Cuba offer a lower cost of living, making it possible for individuals to retire comfortably with a smaller budget.

What are the entry requirements for British tourists traveling to Cuba?

British tourists must have a valid passport to visit Cuba and obtain a Cuban visa. They must also meet any additional entry requirements set by the Cuban government.

President Biden lightened restrictions on Trump-era policies for Americans entering Cuba, making it safe and legal for British tourists to visit Cuba in 2023. However, they must still follow the necessary travel protocols and guidelines.

Why did London flights to Cuba get cancelled?

The decision to cancel London flights to Cuba was due to the unique complexities of Cuban operations, although no specific details were provided.

Can British tourists just move to Cuba?

To move to Cuba, British tourists must obtain a long-term Cuban visa or temporary residence visa. The type of visa they choose depends on the purpose and duration of their relocation to Cuba.

What is the official language spoken in Cuba?

The official language of Cuba is Spanish or Cuban Spanish, which is spoken by the majority of Cubans. Additionally, Lucumí, a dialect of the West African language Yoruba, is used for religious purposes.

What is the safest time of year for British tourists to visit Cuba?

Cuba is generally safe for British tourists to visit year-round. However, the cheapest and least crowded time to visit is during the months of May to early June and mid-September to October.

Virgin Atlantic offers non-stop flights from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Havana Jose Marti International, while TUI Airways offers direct flights from London Gatwick Airport (LGW) to Varadero Juan Gualberto Gomez.

Yes, all citizens from EU countries need a visa to enter Cuba.

It is prohibited to bring narcotics, explosives, pornography, items intended to be used against national security, endangered species, and certain electronic devices such as GPS and cordless phones to Cuba.

Yes, it is safe for British tourists to travel to Cuba in 2023. The necessary travel restrictions and protocols will be in place to ensure the safety and well-being

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7 of the best places to visit on a Cuba holiday – and where to stay

You’ll take a step back in time when you visit this caribbean island, article bookmarked.

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Cuba’s achingly beautiful old towns are one of its greatest draws

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Although its tropical setting is similar to its Caribbean neighbours, a distinctive history and culture make Cuba a truly unique destination.

It is a country that evokes images of times gone by, from vintage cars, classic cocktails and colourful architecture to murals of past leaders and revolutionaries.

Despite moves towards modernisation, Cuba still retains a palpable sense of the past. From the colonial architecture of places like Santiago de Cuba to the old town of Havana and the landmarks of charming Trinidad, this is a country where the past visibly lives on in day-to-day life. Add to this dazzling white beaches and abundant natural beauty, and you have everything you could want from a Caribbean break – especially if you’re after some winter sun .

Tourists often don’t venture far beyond Havana and the beach resorts of Varadero, but there’s far more to be discovered on this small but culturally rich island.

Havana was founded in the 16th century

Havana is the Cuba that we all imagine before visiting; where vintage American cars glide down streets lined with colourful buildings and 18th-century colonial architecture continues to age delicately. It is a place where the old and the new collide. Colonial grandeur sits alongside visible remnants of the Cold War legacy and contemporary efforts at modernisation.

The characterful ‘Habana Vieja’ (’Old Havana’) gives an architectural history tour, showcasing buildings like the the Capitolio Nacional – the most grandiose building in the country, built in 1926 – and the 18th-century cathedral. The squares, like 16th-century Plaza Vieja, and cobblestone pedestrianised roads including Calle Obispo and Calle Mercaderes, are the most atmospheric parts of the city.

The city’s museums include the Museum of the Revolution, the Morro-Cabana military park and even one dedicated to Napoleon, while two major art galleries exhibit both national and international art. The main cemetery, the Necropolis Cristobal Colon, is an impressive national monument, while the nearly five-mile Malecon, which snakes around the seafront, showcases quintessential Havana through its busy promenade and colourful buildings.

Where to stay

The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski was one of the first five-star hotels in the country when it opened in 2017, and it lies in a former mall and government building that offers some of the most fantastic views over the city from its rooftop pool and terrace. Its location in Old Havana is ideal for exploring the most enchanting part of the city.

Doubles from £255 per night; kempinski.com .

Read more on Central America and Caribbean travel :

  • The best all-inclusive Caribbean resorts
  • The most affordable destinations in the Caribbean
  • The best things to do on a holiday in Jamaica

Trinidad combines history, architecture and music

Trinidad is filled with colonial-era architecture, old cobbled streets and plenty of red roofs and colourful facades. It can feel as though Trinidad is stuck somewhere in the 19th century, when fortunes made from the production of sugar led to the construction of the pastel-hued buildings and colonial-style mansions that line the streets today.

The Plaza Mayor, Plaza Santa Ana and several churches are examples of the 17th- and 18th-century structures that contributed to the city’s inscription as a Unesco heritage site in 1988. Today, many of these buildings house the city’s cultural landmarks, from the Museum of Municipal History to the Benito Ortiz art gallery, which showcases local art.

There’s plenty to do on the outskirts of Trinidad too, with a trip to the Valley of the Sugar Mills of the Escambray mountains popular for both hiking and exploring the city’s sugar-related history. Meanwhile, those in search of parties and beach relaxation can head to La Boca and Playa Ancon, where they’ll be greeted by a picturesque fishing village and fine white sands.

The Iberostar Grand Trinidad offers a slice of adults-only tranquility in the centre of the city, less than 10 minutes away from the Plaza Mayor. Set in a beautiful pastel-green colonial-style building, it has magnificently elegant interiors throughout and a restaurant that serves gourmet Cuban specialties.

Doubles from £312 per night; ibercuba.com .

Viñales Valley

The Valle de Viñales sits at the western end of the island of Cuba

The Valle de Viñales is Cuba’s tobacco and coffee-growing heartland. It is situated around 100 miles west of the capital, and has gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the country thanks to the dense tropical vegetation, red soil, verdant tobacco fields and the giant limestone hills scattered throughout.

The valley provides an insight into rural Cuban life – as well as some of the island’s finest coffee and tobacco – with opportunities to learn about the plantations and stay in private homes (known as casas particulares ), where locals can help you navigate Cuba’s occasionally complicated culture and way of life. Casa owners will often organise activities to help you explore the valley.

The Los Jazmines hotel surely has some of the best views of any hotel in Cuba, with the rooms and pool overlooked by the verdant hills and tobacco fields. The hotel is set in a pink building, with rooms that are rustic and colourful.

Contact hotel directly for prices and availability.

There are around 12 miles of beaches in Varadero

Varadero is Cuba’s seaside resort area, where long stretches of palm-fringed sands meet the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This is the place to come for a laid-back few days, with the seemingly never-ending beach complemented by a range of activities including various water sports, boat trips and scuba diving at the Cayo Piedras del Norte. The relaxed vibe also encourages afternoons and evenings spent sipping cocktails as part of hotel-hosted party nights or on rooftop bars and clubs like Mansion Xanadu and Casa de la Musica.

The area is also home to the mini oasis of Josone Park, the pretty Gaviota marina, and the Ambrosio caves, where visitors can see pre-Columbian drawings on a self-guided tour. Accommodation ranges from luxe all-inclusives to the aforementioned casas particulares – although you’d be well-advised to venture out the resorts to experience authentic Cuba.

The Melia Las Americas has everything you’d expect from a seaside resort hotel, from direct access to Varadero Golf Club to modern interiors and affordable all-inclusive options. It sits along its own section of beach, and provides an array of pools, sports and water sports facilities.

Doubles from £141 per night, all-inclusive; melia.com .

Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is considered Cuba’s second city

Santiago de Cuba is the capital of the province of the same name, and this easterly region is often billed as the country’s cultural capital. It has drawn on Caribbean and West African influences alongside Cuban traditions, making it a somewhat unique part of the country where Afro-Caribbean culture brings an upbeat rhythm to the leisurely pace of life.

The city is architecturally characterised by its colonial-era buildings, but its place as the centre of the 1959 revolution and a focal point of Afro-Cuban culture has come to define it in the modern day. The revolutionary spirit lives on in a city where the largest carnival celebrations in Cuba take place every July, and where live venues move to the rhythm of son Cubano and salsa the rest of the year.

The city has fewer notable attractions than Havana, but the Cuartel Moncada, a former barracks that was once the site of one of Castro’s early revolution attempts (and now features a museum of the attack), stands out as an interesting site. Close to town lies the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Cobre, one of Cuba’s most important religious sites, while further excursions can take you to the golden sands of beaches like Chivirico or Siboney, or the mountain trails of the Sierra Maestra.

If you want a swimming pool in Santiago, you’ll have to turn to one of the large chains, and we’d suggest the Melia Santiago. It sits to the west of the centre, but this location allows space for two pools, and the building offers sweeping views over the city. Rooms are also more modern than others.

Doubles from £85 per night; melia.com .

Though Cienfuegos was founded by Spanish settlers, it was French settlers who originally inhabited the area

Cienfuegos is nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the South’, and this Unesco-listed city carries a palpable French influence from the early founders who settled here. According to Unesco, these settlers brought with them influences from French cities and colonies including Louisiana and Bordeaux, something that is visible today in the city’s architecture. Several buildings look like they were transported straight from New Orleans or Bordeaux, from the Palacio Ferrer art museum to the Arco de Triunfo and the Tomas Terry theatre.

Cienfuegos sits on a picturesque natural bay (that allows for water sports including kayaking and windsurfing) surrounded by a mountainous backdrop, giving the city a picturesque natural setting. The malecon runs along the bay, offering fantastic views as the sun starts to set. On the opposite side of the bay to the city, the Jagua Castle attracts visitors wanting to see once of Cuba’s largest fortresses, while there are also beaches both on and close to the bay, such as those of Rancho Luna.

The Melia San Carlos is one of two hotels in the main part of town. The more modern of the two, it has elegant contemporary interiors, and though it doesn’t have a pool, guests can use that of the Melia Union hotel close by. The rooftop terrace has fantastic views over the town.

Doubles from £97 per night; melia.com .

Baracoa is known as one of the oldest New World settlements in the Americas, having been established in 1511

Part of the attraction of visiting Baracoa is the enchanting journey to get there, which takes visitors along a 37-mile road that is renowned as one of the most scenic drives in the country (the full route from Santiago de Cuba, known as La Farole, extends for around 150 miles). The route snakes through jungle, mountains and rivers, leading you to a beautiful section of countryside that sits right on the southeastern edge of the country.

Nature is king in Baracoa, with the reward for completing arguably Cuba’s best road trip being even more remoteness and wilderness. There are some lovely beaches – including Playa Blanca, Playa del Miel and the black sands of Playa Duaba – as well as the wonderful Majayara National Park, which provides plenty of wild swimming and hiking opportunities. The region’s most recognisable sight is the Yunque mountain, rising to around 500m but extending to almost a kilometre wide at the top.

Baracoa’s lack of outside influence for many years means that a lot of the old architecture has been well-preserved, such as the forts that used to protect the city – Matachin, Fuerte de la Punta and the Seboruco castle – and squares like Plaza Independencia. Baracoa’s most impressive museum is the Cueva del Paraiso, a series of caves that were once indigenous burial chambers, while the Casa del Cacao provides an insight into the centre of Cuba’s chocolate production.

Baracoa’s more sparse tourism infrastructure means hotel options are limited, but the La Habanera hotel will provide you a comfortable, if simple, stay in the centre of town. Rooms are pared-back, but the hotel itself is a fitting place to stay in a town that is reminiscent of days gone by.

Doubles from £45 per night; greaterantilleshotels.com

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IMAGES

  1. How To Apply For A Tourist Visa For Cuba

    tourist visa to go to cuba

  2. What You Need to Know About Visa's and Travel Cards to Enter Cuba

    tourist visa to go to cuba

  3. How To Get A Cuban Tourist Card or Visa (2020 Update)

    tourist visa to go to cuba

  4. Cuba Visa

    tourist visa to go to cuba

  5. Cuban Tourist Card: Here’s How to Get the Cuban Visa in 2020

    tourist visa to go to cuba

  6. cuba visas .com

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COMMENTS

  1. Entry to Cuba: Visas & Travel Requirements · Visit Cuba

    For most European citizens, a valid passport is required during your stay in Cuba. Some countries, like Spain, require the passport to be valid for at least 6 months. It's also important to note that if you plan to travel to the United States after visiting Cuba, you'll need a visa. This is because the electronic system for travel authorization ...

  2. Traveling to Cuba

    Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute. However, the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses for 12 categories of travel. ... D.C. process Cuban visa applications. To apply for a Cuban visa or for any questions regarding Cuban consular services, please contact ...

  3. How to Get a Cuban Visa: A 4-Step Guide for Americans

    American: $100 ($50 visa + $50 processing fee), available at the Miami airport. Tip: Processing fees are often lower for Tourist Cards purchased online through sites like Online Tourist Card. Plus you get the peace of mind of having your visa in hand well before your departure date. 3. Get it from a travel agency.

  4. Cuba Entry Requirements: Complete Guide For Travelers [2024]

    2. A Cuban Tourist Visa / Cuban Tourist Card. Everyone visiting Cuba who is not Cuban-born or a permanent resident of Cuba needs to present a Cuban tourist visa upon arrival in the country. Don't worry - getting a Cuban tourist visa, which is also known as a Cuban tourist card, is a straightforward process that you even complete on the day ...

  5. Can Americans Travel To Cuba? [2024 Legal Travel Guide]

    Yes - Americans can fly to Cuba! American citizens can fly to Cuba either from the United States directly or from other countries. Flights to Cuba leave regularly from many of America's largest cities like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta, and New York.

  6. How To Get A Cuban Tourist Card or Visa (2024 Update)

    From Mexico: If you're flying from Mexico to Cuba then you can buy the green Cuban Tourist Card in Cancun or Mexico City. You can do this near check-in or at the boarding gate. They are typically around $25. From Canada: If you're traveling from Canada, your airline may provide the green Tourist Card with your ticket.

  7. How to Get the Cuba Visa You Need (Online!)

    Cuban Tourist Visa. Cuban tourist visas are required for most travelers to Cuba who are not Cuban citizens or don't have another visa status in Cuba (a student visa, permanent residency, etc).. Thankfully, visas to travel to Cuba are very easy to get.Most travelers to Cuba get their Cuba visa before they travel, either online through the EasyTouristVisa website, or from their airline, if ...

  8. Visa requirements for visiting Cuba

    Citizens of some Caribbean, Asian and European countries, including Russia, Montenegro, Serbia and Singapore, can travel visa-free to Cuba for up to 90 days with a passport that doesn't expire for at least six months. Passport holders from all other countries must purchase what is known officially as a Cuba Tourist Card, although it's often ...

  9. Cuba International Travel Information

    Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.

  10. Visa Cuba

    In other words, citizens (passport holders) from the below-listed countries are free to travel to Cuba with no extra documentation required (a valid passport will suffice). No Cuban visa or tourist card required for a visit with a maximum duration of 90 days for nationals of: Russia. Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  11. How to Actually Go to Cuba in 2023

    How to travel to Cuba as an American citizen. U.S. law states that those who want to go to Cuba need to qualify for a "general license" based on one of 12 approved categories. The 12 categories currently authorized by U.S. government, for travel to Cuba are: Family visits. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and ...

  12. How to Travel to Cuba If You Are an American

    Using the Havana Embassy. The U.S. Embassy in Havana reopened in August 2015, as full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States have been restored. Although the relationship is now strained thanks to the Trump administration, this embassy will still help American citizens in Cuba in a variety of different ways.

  13. Travel To Cuba: How To Get A Visa As An American

    This visa allows Americans to visit Cuba for the purpose of connecting with individuals and groups in Cuba. The People-to-People category was initially introduced as a way to foster cultural exchange and promote understanding between the people of the United States and Cuba. Under this visa, travelers have the opportunity to engage in a wide ...

  14. Traveling to Cuba as a US Citizen: 2024 Guide

    Below is a simplified list of entry requirements, compiled by Cuba Unbound. Return Travel Documents: Travelers must show proof of entry and departure dates in order to receive a valid visa. Valid Cuban Tourist Card/Visa: U.S citizens traveling to Cuba must acquire a valid Visa, also known as a Cuban Tourist Card. These cards can be purchased ...

  15. Cuba Tourist Card: 5 Ways to Get the Cuba Tourist Visa in 2023

    3. Buy it From Your Country's Cuban Embassy or Consulate. This is the hardest way to buy the Cuba Tourist Visa since you have to go in person with the necessary paperwork. Price varies depending on the embassy, but you can expect to pay between $35 and $75 for the card. 4.

  16. Visiting Cuba in 2023: Here's what you need to know

    Making sense of the new travel policies and rules. This year, Cuba ranked as the top trending destination in the 2023 Travelers' Choice awards, meaning Cuba-focused pages on Tripadvisor are seeing an increase in year-over-year activity. But having swung back and forth throughout the last three American presidencies, the rules about visiting ...

  17. 20 things to know before going to Cuba

    1. Double-check your insurance. You are required to have medical insurance to visit Cuba and will need to bring digital or printed proof of your policy. Random checks are made at the airport. If you arrive without insurance, you'll be asked to buy a Cuban policy at the airport for US$30. 2.

  18. New Requirements for Travelers to Cuba as of Jan. 23

    By El Toque. HAVANA TIMES - The Cuban government will require, as of January 23, 2023, a digital customs declaration for travelers entering the country. The declaration is part of a more extensive digital form (which also contains immigration and health information) that will be mandatory for visitors, both Cubans and foreigners.st.

  19. Cuba − Travel information − American Airlines

    U.S. to Cuba travel policy. Flying to Cuba from or through the U.S. for tourism is not allowed. There are 13 permitted reasons for travel: People-to-people exchanges (for travel related transactions purchased prior to June 5, 2019) If you aren't traveling for one of the 13 reasons, there are 2 other ways to enter Cuba: With a license issued by ...

  20. Cuba Visa

    Flying via Latin America. If you are flying from Latin America or the Caribbean (e.g. Mexico, Panama, Cayman) to Cuba you can purchase your visa at the airport during check-in for your flight to Cuba, it takes only a few minutes. The cost is approximately US$25-30 and can sometimes be paid with credit card in addition to the local currency.

  21. Entry requirements

    Visa requirements. If you're visiting Cuba as a tourist, you need to get a tourist card before you travel. Apply through the Cuban Embassy in the UK or check with your travel agent or tour operator.

  22. Cuba Travel Advice & Safety

    You need a visa to enter Cuba. If your visit is for tourism, you can get a 'tourist card' through your travel agent, airline or embassy or consulate of Cuba. The tourist card includes a tourist visa. You're required to fill in an online declaration form. If you've travelled to Cuba since January 2021, you won't be eligible to participate in the ...

  23. What You Need To Be Aware Of As A Tourist Visiting Cuba

    Cuba is just 103 miles from the tip of Florida making it the ideal winter getaway for sun-seeking Americans. However, the U.S. imposed restrictions on travel to Cuba in 1963 and while the level of ...

  24. Travel advice and advisories for Cuba

    Tourist visa: required Family visa: required Business visa: required. Tourist card. Canadian tourists travelling to Cuba need a visa, known as tourist card. The tourist card allows you to stay in Cuba for up to 90 days. The tourist card is generally included in holiday packages provided by tour operators or airlines providing direct flights ...

  25. Can Brits travel to Cuba?

    Yes, UK passport holders can obtain a visa to visit Cuba either from the Cuban Consulate in London or purchase it from visacuba.com and have it delivered to their address. ... The cheapest months to go to Cuba are May to early June and mid-September to October. Prices rise during the school holiday periods of Christmas, Easter, and July to ...

  26. The best places to visit in Cuba and where to stay

    7 of the best places to visit on a Cuba holiday - and where to stay. You'll take a step back in time when you visit this Caribbean island . Chris Wilson. Wednesday 17 January 2024 15:22.