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In order to travel to Cuba, most foreign nationals need to have a Cuba visa. The visa for Cuba is known as a Cuba Tourist Card, and every visa-required national must be in possession of one before traveling to Cuba.
Cuba is a country located in the northern Caribbean, at the point where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. Cuba consists of the island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and other smaller archipelagos. It is a popular travel destination for tourists seeking to enjoy its warm climate and golden beaches, but also for those interested in Cuba’s history and colonial architecture. If you are wondering: “Can I travel to Cuba?
” ”, the answer is: “Yes, you can but you will have to comply with the Cuban visa requirements”.
However, there are additional restrictions on travel from the United States to Cuba due to the difficult relationship between the two countries. This article provides guidance on Cuba visa requirements, applications, and other frequently asked questions.
Most people coming to Cuba must first apply for a Cuban visa (tourist card).
However, there are a number of countries whose citizens benefit from visa-free travel to Cuba, provided they have a visa-free agreement.
Visas to Cuba are divided depending on the purpose of your trip. So, the most common types of visas for Cuba are:
When applying for a Cuba visa, you must have several documents supporting your application, such as:
The Cuban tourist card (tarjeta turista), also known as the Cuban tourist visa, is issued to all foreign citizens requiring a visa who wish to enter the country for tourism purposes. In many cases, you will see the process of applying for a tourist visa to Cuba referred to as “purchasing a travel card”. This can be confusing, but it simply means that you apply for a tourist visa and receive it, regardless of the method (at the consulate, online, at the airport, or at the application agency).
A Cuba tourist card is issued in a light green color to all countries except the USA.
If you are from the US, you will receive a pink Tourist Card when you travel to Cuba. This is done due to the not-so-great relationship between Cuba and the USA (read more about traveling to Cuba from the US below).
So the difference between the green and pink Tourist Card is this Pink:
Visas to Cuba are valid for a maximum of 30 days after entering the country. You can only enter this country once.
Yes, after your 30 days in Cuba have expired, you can request to renew your tourist card from the hotel you are staying at or from the Cuban immigration authorities.
If approved, an extension will be granted for an additional 30 days, meaning you can stay in Cuba for up to 60 days on a visa.
Cuba visa processing time depends on several factors, such as the consulate where you apply, the time of year, and your specific circumstances. However, Cuban visas are processed within 30 days, more or less. Therefore, you should apply for a visa 1 to 2 months before your intended date of departure to Cuba.
If you apply through the application receiving agencies, you can reduce this time but it will also cost more.
The requirements for applying for a long-term Cuba visa differ from country to country. As such, if you want to travel to Cuba for employment or studying purposes, you must contact the nearest Cuban consulate and request information on how to proceed. To receive a long-stay Cuba visa, you must have the following documents when applying to the Cuba consulate:
Foreign family members (spouse and/or children) of Cuban citizens are eligible for permanent residence in Cuba. All other types (employment, study) are subject to temporary residence.
Yes, anyone applying for a Cuba visa must pay a non-refundable Cuba visa fee in advance. Costs vary depending on the method applied. If you apply in person at the Cuban consulate office, you only need to pay the fee, which can range from $25 to $75.
If you apply by post, you must pay additional postage fees. If you apply online through a visa agency, you must also pay a service fee in addition to the visa fee.
Yes, you do. If you normally need to have a visa to enter Cuba, you must apply for one regardless of the method through which you are entering.
Yes, they can. However, travel to Cuba is much more restricted for US citizens than for the rest of the world. If you are a US citizen, you cannot technically visit Cuba solely for tourism purposes. The reason for your trip must fall within one of the 12 types of travel permitted to Cuba (see below).
This was a result of the trade ban the United States imposed on Cuba in the 1960s because the United States nationalized American oil refineries and did not pay compensation. Since then, this ban has not been lifted, but only modified. So when American citizens go to Cuba, they get a pink tourist card instead of a green card.
Additionally, a pink travel card costs more than a regular green card, even though both are of equal value. Another method used by US citizens to travel to Cuba is to first go to another country and obtain a travel card from there.
In fact, the color of the card changes depending on the country you come from, not your nationality. That means that even if you are not a citizen of the US, you will still get a pink Tourist Card if you travel to Cuba from the US.
The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are now the 11 categories of authorized travel, after the Trump administration removed the People to People category in June 2019.
Now, US citizens may only travel to Cuba if their reason of travel falls under one of these 11 categories:
If your reason for travel is one of those aforementioned ones, then you will have a general license to travel to Cuba – which is nothing more than you declaring that your purpose of travel falls under one of those categories. There is no actual physical “license” that you receive.
Previously, the People to People category served as a loophole for Americans to travel to Cuba. However, as of June 5th, 2019, that category was removed. Only People to People trips booked before June 5, 2019 will be allowed to proceed.
The types of travel permitted to Cuba from the United States are imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).