Who can travel to Cuba?

In order to travel to Cuba you must travel under one of the 12 licensed categories.  

The 12 licensed categories include:

  1. Visiting family
  2. Humanitarian projects or to provide support to the Cuban people
  3. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations
  4. Journalistic activities
  5. Professional research
  6. Educational activities by persons at academic institutions
  7. People to people travel
  8. Religious activities
  9. Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions and exhibitions
  10. Authorization to provide travel services, carrier services and remittance forwarding services
  11. Activities of private foundations, research or educational institutes
  12. Exportation of certain Internet-based services

What documentation is needed to travel to Cuba?

Upon entry into Cuba, tourists must have a return air ticket, a valid visa, and proof of travel health insurance. The travel medical insurance plan must include coverage for medical evacuation by air, medical emergencies, and repatriation.

In addition, a visitor passport must be valid for at least six month beyond their expected date of departure.

The Cuban government requires all US Citizens traveling to Cuba to obtain a Cuban visa prior to their arrival into Cuba. A Cuban visa is also known as a "tourist card.” The Cuban visa is valid for a single entry and allows the holder to stay in Cuba for 30 days.

How do exchange money in Cuba?

Credit & debit cards issued by American banks still don’t work in Cuba. So a trip to the island involves bringing lots of cash. You can exchange USD for CUC at any airport, hotel, exchange bureau in town centers and some banks. The exchange rate will be the same no matter the place you decide to go.

Cuba actually has two different currencies. The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the “tourist” currency, pegged to the American dollar. The Cuban Peso (CUP) is what locals use, and worth a lot less. So when you exchange money as a tourist, you’ll receive CUC.

$1 USD = 1 CUC = 24 CUP

You can exchange US dollars for CUC. There is a special 10% penalty fee for this service, plus a 3% for Service charge. The 10% is only applicable to US dollars. Euros, Canadian Dollars, Pound Sterling are not subject to this penalty. But, you will nee to pay the 3% service charge

Does Cell phones work in Cuba?

US cell phones do not work in Cuba, even if you have an international plan.

BUT you can rent a temporary cell while you are in the island, this is what you should do:

Visit one of the commercial Etecsa offices at the airport. Terminal 2 or 3 or visit the Center in Miramar 3era y 76 "Centro de Negocios". The person who is picking you up at the airport can assist you with this.

It is possible to call home from your hotel by visiting the business center or dialing direct from your room. If you wish to use the phone in your room, you will need to leave a cash-deposit at the front desk, so that they activate your line. It can be expensive to call home, sometimes more than 2.50 CUC per minute, and connection charges may also apply. You can also purchase local calling cards to use at pay phones or landlines

How can I call home from Cuba?

Wi-Fi is not available throughout Cuba except at some hotels. Most hotels also have a business center with computer, with limited hours, where Internet service is available.

Do I have access to Internet in Cuba?

Usually you will find 110 volts outlets in Cuba; so American appliances will work there without needing to use a converter.   There are few places that use 220 volts outlets in Cuba, especially old hotels owned by Europeans. I will recommend you bring a converter with you, just in case.

What is the electric capability in Cuba?

Taxis are available throughout and are quite safe. Payment will most likely be in CUC, though there are different types of taxis including those that charge in local pesos. Buses are also available in Havana and to get between cities and towns, but are sometimes a bit more challenging to figure out.

How reliable are taxis and public transportation in Cuba?

It is best to drink bottled water while in Cuba. You will find that both still and sparkling water are available. Water is purified in the hotels and restaurants, and it is ok to drink beverages with ice wherever we take you on the tour. It is also not necessary to use bottled water to brush your teeth, as the tap water has also been purified. Also, bottled water is sold in all mini markets, gas stations and so on.

Is the water safe to drink in Cuba?

Though Cuba is generally a very safe place to travel (more than other parts of the world), it is always best to watch your belongings and beware of pick-pockets and purse snatchers. Leave expensive jewelry in the safe and only carry what you need for that day. You may see some kids or older adults begging on the streets, sometimes asking for soap, pens, etc. Though a nuisance, this is not considered to be dangerous.

Is it safe to travel to Cuba?

Due to the U.S. embargo on Cuba, there are very specific guidelines as to what can and cannot be brought into the U.S. With President Obama's December 17, 2014 announcement to normalize relations with Cuba, Americans are now allowed to bring back up to $400 worth of Cuban goods of any kind, with a maximum of $100 worth of cigar or alcohol purchases. The $400 limitation does not include artwork, music, or informational materials, which are allowed in unlimited quantities. Artwork, Cuban coffee, cigars, music and rum are the most common items guests bring back to the U.S.

What good can I bring back into The US?

Seasons in Cuba correspond to the seasons in the United States. Weather is similar to Florida. During the summer months (May through September), pack light clothes, as it will be very hot. During the rest of the year, it’s advisable to bring a long sleeved shirt or light sweater for the evenings. Casual walking shoes or sneakers are recommended, as you’ll be walking from place to place throughout your stay. Dress can be casual, but should be presentable. You may also want to pack a nicer outfit for evening dining if you choose. Reasonable laundry and dry-cleaning services are often available at hotels in Havana, Varadero and Santiago de Cuba. Bringing a bathing suit is wise if you want to go swimming, as some hotels feature pools.

How should I dress in Cuba?

If you have an emergency and need assistance, and you are a US Citizen or resident, you may contact the US Embassy while there. Otherwise, please contact your corresponding embassy or consulate. If you need to call the police while there, you will want to dial 106 from a local telephone for any emergency. Otherwise, you can also dial 104 for an ambulance and 105 for the fire department. Note that you will not find an English-speaking person that answers.

U.S. Embassy contact information:
Calzada between L & M Streets, Vedado, Havana
Main switchboard (53) (7) 839-4100
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed on U.S. and Cuban Holidays)

Emergencies/After Hours: call main switchboard at (+53) (7)-831-4100, dial 1 to speak with emergency operator.

Who do I contact in case of emergency?