FAQs: What You Need to Know Before Visiting Cuba
Tourist Entry Requirements*
- Passport with a minimum validity of six months after arriving in Cuba
- A visa or tourist card is required by all visitors except those nationals whose countries have signed visa-exemption agreements with Cuba (contact your nearest Cuban Consulate for further information)
- To declare whereabouts while in Cuba, at immigration control
- Return or continuation ticket
- Health or travel insurance with coverage for medical expenses
Airport Customs Regulations
For all import and export regulations, please check the Cuban Customs website: http://www.aduana.co.cu
The Tourist Card, valid for single entry to Cuba within 180 days of issue, is for an up to 30 day stay, with one to two 30 day extensions available in Cuba, depending upon your citizenship. It can be purchased in advance of your trip, or in many cases at the airline counter when checking in for or prior to boarding your flight to Cuba.
Citizens of the following countries are ineligible to obtain a tourist card and must obtain a Cuban visa (However, they are eligible to travel to Cuba with a tourist card if they also hold a valid visa or permanent residence permit issued by Canada, the United States or an EU member state):
- India (Nationals of other countries traveling to Cuba from India also require a Visa)
- Sierra Leone
- Sri Lanka
Passengers in transit are exempt from visa or tourist card requirements if their transit time does not exceed 72 hours. They are allowed to enter Cuba.
Admission and transit is refused to nationals of Kosovo
Citizens of the following countries can visit Cuba without a visa:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
Health Care & Medical Insurance*
Cuba requires a health travel insurance policy to cover medical expenses for all travelers, foreign and Cuban, living abroad, in order to enter the country. The resolution states that the insurers issuing the policies should be recognized on the island. The policy must be shown upon request and be issued by an insurer authorized by Cuba. Cuban insurance policies are for sale at points of entry into the country for those unable to present an appropriate insurance policy. When traveling from the US, insurance is included with your flight purchase, valid for up to 30 days.
In most hotels, a doctor is present to provide primary care to patients. Additionally, there are eight international clinics offering specialized treatment. These facilities have excellent medical staff and high standards of care.
Traveling to Cuba is legal now for Americans, right?
Due to recent changes in American regulations, travel restrictions to Cuba have been loosened, but a specific reason is still required to travel. There are many different categories under which Americans can travel to Cuba, however the most popular for non-business travelers to the island is for an educational visit, also known as a People-to-People program.
What is a People-to-People travel program?
A People-to-People program requires interactions with Cuban people and cultural experiences in your itinerary. The idea is you are helping build positive relationships between Americans and Cubans while traveling. Individual People-to-people trips have been restricted, therefore People-to-People travelers must travel with an organization that puts together full-time programs for them.
It’s important to note that there is no minimum group size for “group” People-to-People travel. The key is having a US-based organization taking responsibility for your itinerary and stay. Four Wives is happy to take on this responsibility and ensure you fully comply with US laws. We can take care of your program, arranging an itinerary for only you and your travel partners that is fully catered to your interests. Rather than feel like you’re on a “tour”, you’ll be on an enjoyable vacation while experiencing the beauty Cuba has to offer.
Do non-Americans have any restrictions regarding travel to Cuba?
Only non-Americans who are US residents are subject to US laws regarding Cuba travel. The same goes for those who hold a US passport in addition to their non-US passport.
Where can I stay?
There are a variety of high end hotels, luxury B&Bs/Boutique Hotels, and villas that we highly recommend. We are also happy to look into other options for you based on your interests and budget.
US citizens and residents are unable to stay in some state-owned hotels due to the new directive instituted by the Trump Administration, however do not see this as a limitation. We offer a large variety of excellent options to ensure you access to top accommodation during your stay.
What form of currency is used in Cuba? What do I need to know about exchange rates?
Cuban residents use two types of currency, the peso (CUP) and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). Visitors pay mostly in CUC, which can be exchanged for a number of foreign currencies (and vice versa), including the Euro, Swiss Franc, English Pound and US Dollar. Only notes can be changed – coins are not accepted. The current exchange ratio from USD to CUC is technically 1:1, but because of high exchange fees from the USD, you’re left with the equivalent of 87 cents in CUC to each dollar (this rate does not change depending upon the market). Other currencies are subject to daily exchange rates. It’s important to note that the CUC is not an internationally circulating currency. Therefore, you must change all your remaining CUCs back to USD/other currency before leaving the country, as you won’t be able to change them abroad. Travelers Checks, as long as they are payable against banks that are not based in the United States, are accepted, although not recommended as they are subject to a commission and in case of loss, they cannot be substituted in Cuba.
Where can I exchange money in Cuba?
Exchanging money in Cuba is easy. You can change money at the airport, hotels, Change houses (Casas de Cambio / CADECA) and local banks. Our concierges are also happy to help you with the exchange so you can avoid waiting in line at any of these locations.
Will my debit and credit cards work in Cuba? Are there ATMs?
Most locations do not yet accept cards of any kind. Those that do (state-owned hotels, car rental companies, some state-owned shops and supermarkets) accept most debit and credit cards (Visas and MasterCards) from non-US banks. The same goes for ATM machines. When withdrawing cash with a debit or credit card, the CUC will be first be converted to the US Dollar, and the amount in USD will be deducted from your account – plus 3%. Example: if you want to withdraw CUC 100.00 cash with your credit card, USD 103.00 will be debited. Even though your non-US card may work in Cuba, we highly recommend that travelers bring enough cash for their trip, as it is extremely difficult to get cash once in Cuba should your cards not work in local ATMs. We are happy to assist you in assessing how much cash would be wise to bring for your time on the island.
May I purchase items in Cuba and bring them back home with me?
There is no limit on how much money you can spend, but there is a limit on the amount of alcohol or tobacco products, like cigars, for example. As there generally is a limit to the amount of alcohol and cigarettes/cigars you can bring into your home country from any country (not just Cuba). Those traveling to the US from abroad can bring in 100 cigars or 200 cigarettes and 2 liters of alcohol.
Cuba allows export of 50 loose cigars or 200 cigarettes without proof of purchase. More than 50 cigars can be exported as long as they are not intended for resale, and they are accompanied by a receipt from an official store. Travelers over 18 years old may export five bottles of alcoholic beverages, as long as they are accompanied by a receipt from an official store.
How does the cost of goods in Cuba compare to the U.S. and Europe?
Cuba is not a cheap country! Nice restaurants’ prices compare with mid-range prices in the US and Europe, and taxi prices compare to those in NYC. Hotels and high-end B&Bs compare to nice hotels abroad. While you’re not going to spend $50 for a cigar in Cuba like you would in the U.S or Europe, cigar prices range from 3 to 30 CUC depending on the brand, and art is pretty standard — you can get street art for 10 or 15 CUC and high end art for upwards of 15,000 CUC. As far as souvenirs, it’s like any Caribbean Island.
Most electricity in Cuba is 110V/60Hz, although 220V is available in many hotels. Power outlets are mostly of the flat two-pronged type used in the U.S. (Type A). Hotels, however, often have power outlets for the European-style round, two-pronged variety (Type C).
Will my cell phone or smart device work in Cuba?
As of right now AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint may offer very expensive roaming capabilities, but for the most part, you can expect to be disconnected. We can provide a local cell phone if you need one, but it will not have any data capability (only calls and texts). Another option is to connect to local Wi-Fi spots and use internet calling such as WhatsApp, imo, and Messenger.
Will I have access to the Internet in Cuba?
While Wi-Fi is not widely available everywhere on the island, hotels and some high-end B&Bs will have it available for you. Our staff can also assist you in purchasing a card that will give you access to Wi-Fi in designated hotspot locations throughout the island. One hour generally costs from 1 to 3 CUC. Most hotspot locations are in hotels or public squares throughout the city. While your cell phone’s data may work in Cuba, we recommend turning the roaming feature off to avoid incurring exorbitant roaming fees during your stay.
Cuba’s warm and mostly consistent climate allows one to visit the country year-round. It is a sub-tropical, seasonally wet climate. Cuba has two seasons: the dry “winter” season from November through April, with average day temperatures of 21 to 28ºC (70 to 82ºF) during the day and average night temperatures around 18 to 20ºC (64 to 68ºF). The rainy “summer” period is from May through October, when average daily temperatures are around 30°C (86ºF). This does not mean that it rains all day, but typically there will be refreshing tropical showers in late afternoon during this season, which is also characterized by high humidity. The hurricane season is between June and November, with the most active storm months (when they occur) being September and October).
* Based on our most recently obtained information. Please note that this information is subject to change.