Cuba Travel Tips for 2022

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Cuban visa

This island nation might not boast the same reputation of being a tourist hotspot as other Caribbean countries, but that does not mean Cuba isn’t a charming country worth traveling to. If you’ve been dreaming of traveling to Cuba, here are some tips you should keep in mind to make sure that your plan goes smoothly.

Check your passport validity

This one might be a no-brainer since you do need a passport to travel internationally anyway. But passport validity is not just about whether your passport is still valid today. To apply for a Cuban visa or tourist card, your passport needs to still be valid for at least another six months.

Cuba is a Caribbean country and it shares a sea border with the US. If you are a US citizen with a US passport card, you might be wondering if you can enter Cuba with your card. The answer, unfortunately, is no. Some Caribbean countries actually do not grant entry to US passport cardholders and require passport books.

Do you need a visa?

If you are traveling to Cuba as a tourist, you do not need to apply for a Cuban visa. The immigration document you will need is named aptly: tourist card. However, if you are a citizen of certain countries looking to travel to Cuba as a tourist, you will need a visa. These countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sri Lanka.

Obviously, there are other ways you can enter Cuba aside from being a tourist. To travel there for business, study, or other purposes, you will need to apply for a Cuban visa.

What are tourist cards?

Unlike visas, tourist cards are, well, cards. They are not pasted into your passport. It consists of two identical parts. Upon arrival, the immigration officer will tear them apart and give you one part, signifying your legal stay in Cuba.

Cuba tourist cards are usually valid for 30 days but can be renewed at immigration offices in Cuba. If you’re Canadian, though, you’re in luck! Cuban tourist cards are valid for 90 days for Canadians.

Fun fact: the Cuba tourist cards come in two colors: green and pink. The USA is the only country for which green tourist cards are issued. Every other country gets pink ones. However, it does not depend on your nationality or citizenship. It depends on the port of your last departure.

So if you are a US citizen flying to Cuba from Mexico, for example, you will need to get a pink tourist card. And vice versa: if for example, you are a Mexican citizen who just visited some family in the US and decided to fly to Cuba from there, you will need to enter with a green visa. Remember, what matters is from where you’re entering Cuba.

Traveling to Cuba from the US

It is no secret that US-Cuban diplomatic relations, and therefore immigration policies are more complicated than the difference in tourist card colors. For example, US citizens must specify their purpose of travel to Cuba. These accepted purposes, generally, are ones deemed productive and/or necessary, and tourism, unfortunately, might not suffice.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) grants entry under several grounds, including family visits, professional research, professional meetings, as well as educational and humanitarian projects.

One particular ground for travel, “support for the Cuban people”, can be chosen if you are looking to explore the country as a tourist. The reason for that is that tourists can take part in cultural exchanges and give input to the Cuban economy by purchasing and consuming local goods.

In general, there are various nuances you need to take in mind if you are a US citizen planning to travel to Cuba, so do keep them in mind so as to not cause legal trouble.

Tourist card requirements

With all the nuances surrounding travel to Cuba, at least one thing is no different: it all starts with a package of documents. Here are the documents you need to apply for a tourist card:

  • Passport valid for at least six months
  • Application form
  • Travel itinerary: proof of airline and accommodation booking
  • Travel insurance

Other than those documents, photos with specific requirements may be needed for a successful Cuba tourist visa application.

Ready? Contact your local representative of the Cuban government or look up trusted visa agencies that can help you. Good luck with your travels!