Some exotic destinations require a bit of extra planning, and there are an abundance of different rules depending on where you come from. It’s not as though you can just book a holiday in North Korea and jump straight on the next plane. China has some rather severe restrictions on who can come without applying for a visa in advance, and just how long they can stay. And then there is the weirdness of Europe’s borderless schengen zone, where sometimes the only indicator that you’ve crossed into another country is that the street signs and advertising are suddenly in a different language. But what about an island paradise that might be on your travel bucket list?
So… can anyone go to Cuba now?
In a word, yes. OK, if that was all there is to it, this would be a very short article indeed. Naturally there is more to it than that, and the ease with which you can enter Cuba will depend on your passport and where you’re actually travelling from. Let’s look at all the things you need to know to make sure your entry to Cuba is as easy and straightforward as it can be. Don’t worry, because it’s really not all that complicated.
Tourist Cards and Visas and More
In order to travel to Cuba, you will need a visa (known as a tourist card). You will also need to have a return ticket as your tourist card will only be valid for 30 days (but 90 days for Canadian citizens).
Almost everyone coming to Cuba will need a Cuba Visitor Visa to enter the country but there are some notable exceptions (such as Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, amongst others).
For the full list, please click here.
On entry into Cuba the left side of your Cuba Visitor Visa will be retained by immigration. The right side of the Visa will remain with you, and you will need to hold onto this until you visit Cuban immigration at the airport when you leave.
It is important that you do not lose your Cuba Visitor Visa as it will then need to get replaced, which will result in extra costs, delays, and you could miss your flight home.
Processing Times (Which Can Vary… A Lot)
The travel requirements to Cuba vary so much depending on which country issued your passport, so enquire with the Cuban embassy or consulate in your home country. You should allow as much time as possible to obtain the tourist card. Processing times will depend on the country where the visa is issued, and the number of visas being applied for.
The Cuba Visitor Visa does not necessarily need to be obtained through your local Cuban embassy, but this might be your best option.
As a rule of thumb, anyone traveling to Cuba from North, Central or South America, can purchase their Cuba Visitor Visa at the airport through the airline they are traveling with. There can of course be exceptions to this rule, so you should always check with your airline first before assuming you will be able to purchase your Visa at the airport.
There are also various websites that you might be able to purchase your Cuba Visitor Visa through, depending on your location i.e. cubavisas.com
Can Anyone Go to Cuba Now? 12 “Reasons” Why Americans Can Travel to Cuba
Remember that anyone traveling to Cuba from the US (regardless of nationality) is only entitled to travel to Cuba for one of twelve official reasons. Courtesy of the US Embassy in Havana, these reasons are as follows:
1. Family visits
2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
3. Journalistic activity
4. Professional research and professional meetings
5. Educational activities
6. Religious activities
7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions.
8. Support for the Cuban people
8. Humanitarian projects
9. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
10. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
11. Certain authorized export transactions
If you have any questions surrounding travel to Cuba from the US, we recommend that you contact the Educational Adventures Company, as they are experts in this field.
Please remember that the Cuba Visitor Visa that you will need traveling from the US, is a different colour (pink) to the one you will use traveling to Cuba from anywhere else in the world (green).
And Don’t Forget This Vital Part of Travel
It’s also important to be aware of the fact that there can be additional checks at the airport before you are formally granted entry onto Cuban soil. This might sound sinister, but it’s just common sense when travelling, regardless of your destination. You are required to hold comprehensive travel insurance when you travel to Cuba, and this is something that you should possess for any destination you travel to, even when it’s not a legal requirement.
You might be asked to prove that you hold this insurance by immigration officials upon arrival, so it can be very wise to print out a copy of the policy and keep it handy. Pack it with your passport so that it’s easy to access.
If for any reason you opt to try to get around this requirement, it’s not necessarily the end of your stay (so it’s not over before it begins). You will simply be forced to buy insurance from a Cuban provider at a kiosk in the airport. This will be mandatory if you want to be granted entry into Cuba. Sure, there’s a chance that you won’t be checked, but it’s really not worth the risk… and this is not even accounting for the fact that you might encounter some issue where the insurance is needed.