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Frequently Asked Questions

Latest Updates on Traveling to Cuba
When will I be able to travel to Cuba again?

As of November 2020, the Ministry of Tourism in Cuba has confirmed the reopening of the Havana International Airport. Airlines are now flying into Havana such as American Airlines (Miami International Airport) and Southwest (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport). To book flights click here.

How is Cuba responding to COVID-19?

Cuba has proactively implemented contact-tracing and testing along with COVID-19 precautionary measures recommended by the WTO. This has significantly decreased reported active cases of COVID-19 and is expected to continue seeing numbers of active cases decrease. Please note protocols are subject to change. Get COVID-19 updates here.

Are there going to be restrictions on group excursions/experiences when I visit Cuba?

Once international travel restrictions are lifted, tours and experiences operated by Cuba Travel Services will be done in small private groups following recommended COVID-19 hygiene and safety practices. Large group gatherings such as festivals, concerts and other events are cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

Face masks are currently mandatory in all public area including transport. To protect yourself and others, we strongly advise to wash your hands with soap and dry with clean paper towel frequently as possible. You can also use an alcohol based hand sanitizer when outside. Avoid touching your face and keep 6ft distance from others. If you are using a reusable face mask, ensure to wash your face mask with soap between uses. Bring plenty of soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes with you as these supplies may be limited in Cuba.

Are visitors from the U.S. allowed to stay at hotels?

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced regulatory changes [on September 23, 2020] to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) restricting certain transactions related to lodging at properties identified on the CPA List. Authorized travelers should therefore instead of staying at hotels, stay in private accommodations, or casas particulares, owned and operated by legitimately independent entrepreneurs. If you already have a hotel booking in Cuba, made prior to September 23, 2020, your booking is still valid. If you have any further questions in regards to accommodation in Cuba, please contact us directly on 1-800-963-2822.

How do I know which hotels or casas particulares are executing additional hygienic practices recommended for COVID-19?

We are working with our local partners to implement vigilant hygiene and safety practices in line with COVID-19 regulation to ensure the best and safest experience for all our travelers. We will be providing more information about our Travel Safe certified hotel and transport partners in the coming weeks.

Do you offer Travel Insurance?

Yes, insurance for a trip to Cuba may differ from previous insurance purchases and follows a different process given the destination. This process is regulated by the Office of Foreign Asset Control for any travel to Cuba. To learn more on what information you will need to provide when purchasing a policy please click here. For your convenience, we offer travel protection through Travelex Insurance Services. Please call Travelex Customer Solutions at 800-228-9792, advise that you are traveling with Cuba Travel Services, and reference location number 05-1544 to receive a quote or purchase a policy for your trip to Cuba.

Travelex Insurance Services, Inc CA Agency License #0D10209. Travel Insurance is underwritten by Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. VRF

Requirements for Travel to Cuba
What documents do I need to travel to Cuba?
  • Passport
  • OFAC license affidavit
  • Visa
  • (See 12 OFAC Categories and Visa for more information on both)
  • Each must be filled out correctly and signed by the client accordingly.

 

Any other requirements I should be aware of? Tips?
  • Keep your day-to-day activity itinerary to avoid any issues with the United States Government upon your return to the United States.
  • Keep a copy of your passport as a form of ID and leave your actual passport in a safety box in your hotel. You will only need it in Cuba if you need to exchange money or accept money wire transfers.

 

Is there a departure tax on my return flight back to the United States?

There is a Cuba departure tax but it is INCLUDED in the ticket price when purchased before you travel to Cuba.

 

I was born in Cuba. Can I go to Cuba and what kind of visa do I apply for?

Yes, you can go to Cuba. Cuba considers all people born in Cuba to be Cuban citizens, regardless of current nationality.

If you were born in Cuba and left before December 31, 1970, you will need either a valid Cuban passport or HE-11 visa prior to entering Cuba. For more information about the HE-11 visa, contact us at [email protected]

If you were born in Cuba and left Cuba after January 1, 1971, you will need to obtain a Cuban passport regardless of holding United States citizenship and passport. You don’t have the option of applying for an HE-11 visa.

 

If I have a Cuban passport, do I need to apply for a visa?

No, if you have a valid passport and valid prorroga, you won’t need to obtain a visa prior to entering Cuba.

Your Cuban passport has a validity of six (6) years, but a prorroga must be obtained every two (2) years in order to keep it valid until the expiration date.

 

What is a prorroga?

A prorroga is a passport extension and must be obtained every two (2) years in order to keep your passport valid until the passport expires.

 

Can I use my Global Entry benefits with my Cuba flight?

Yes, Global Entry may be used at equipped international terminals regardless of which country you are coming from.

Please note this doesn’t apply to airports in Cuba.

 

Do I have to arrive 4 hours prior to departure for check- in?

It is requested and highly recommended for check-in for international flights. Security and customs can have long lines and you may run into issues. Gates close 1 hour prior to departure.

Can I use my Advantage Program membership when travelling to Cuba?

Yes, if you are booked on a commercial flight, you can enter your Advantage Member number during check-in before departure.

Visa
How do I fill out my visa?

Go here for a step-by-step tutorial.

 

Where can I purchase a visa?

Cuba Visa Services can help you purchase a visa online here.

 

Can I purchase my visa at the airport on the day of my flight?

We recommend purchasing your visa prior to your travel date in order to ensure you have all required travel documents and to avoid any delays.

You may purchase your visa at our Cuba Travel Services kiosk on the day of your flight depending on departing city.

Check with your airline to see if visas are available for purchase on the day of your flight. Price and availability may vary.

 

I am an international citizen residing/flying out from the United States. Do I also need to register under one of the OFAC categories and purchase a visa?

Everyone traveling from the United States to Cuba, including international citizens residing in/flying out of the United States must self-qualify under one of the OFAC categories of authorized travel and have a visa.

 

Additional Visa Tips

A visa is only valid for 30 days from the day our your entry in Cuba.

Safety
How safe is Cuba?

Cuba is generally a very safe place to travel. However, with all travel, it is always best to watch your belongings and beware of pickpockets and purse-snatchers.

 

We recommend leaving your valuables, including your passport**, in the safe at your hotel and only carry what you need for that day.

Contact your hotel about safety deposit boxes they may provide (there may be a daily fee). It is also recommended to have a TSA-approved lock on your luggage.

 

In smaller provinces and cities, you may see some people on the streets asking for soap, pens, or other things, though a nuisance, this is not considered to be dangerous. They would greatly appreciate any extras you may have.

 

**Note: You do not need to carry your passport everywhere with you; a copy of the passport should suffice for ID purposes. You will, however, need your passport to exchange currency.

Money
System of monetary relations.

The foreign currencies that CADECA (Casas de Cambio) accepts in all its offices are:
CAD – Canadian Dollar
EUR – Euros
CHF – Swiss Francs
GBP – Pound sterling
JPY – Japanese Yen
MXN – Mexican peso

The US dollar is only accepted through transfers.

The Exchange Houses (CADECA) have a wide network of 173 commercial offices, duly located in:
• All international airports in Cuba, both in the passenger arrival lounges and in the departure lounges, prior to immigration control.
• All ports where international cruise ships operate.
• In 60 of the main hotels in all tourist areas.
• In the areas with the greatest influx or access of tourists.

 

Prepaid Cards in MLC.

It is encouraged to eliminate the circulation of cash and that the transactions of funds, including the payment of products and services are carried out using bank cards, which reduces the risk of transmission of diseases.

Cuba has worked in the last two years to increase electronic commerce and the infrastructure that guarantees it.

At the request of MINTUR, the Central Bank of Cuba has designed a new service, which has been in operation for months, the sale of Prepaid Cards.

Prepaid cards are issued by Banco de Crédito y Comercio (BANDEC) for values of: 200, 500 and 1000 US dollars, which are marketed by CADECA, in any currency, of which its commercial network is currently listed.

It is expected to extend its commercialization in tourist facilities in the country to facilitate acquisition by customers.
This Card is not personalized, so it can be operated by those who have their PIN.

At the request of the client, the balance of the Card is reimbursed by CADECA to the tourist in freely convertible currency, when he leaves the country, at international airports, in one of the foreign currencies of which they are quoted.

Emergency
Who do I contact in case of an emergency?

If you have an emergency and need assistance, and you are a United States citizen or resident, you may contact the United States Embassy.

 

Otherwise, please contact your corresponding embassy or consulate.

 

If you need to call the police, dial 106 from a local telephone for any emergency. You can also dial 104 for an ambulance and 105 for the fire department.

 

Note: You may not reach an English-speaking person.

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

 

If you get into trouble in Cuba (financial, medical etc.) or are in dire need, then we suggest you contact Asistur (Assistance to Tourists).  Office locations, phone numbers, and fees for this company can be found here.

We suggest printing out a list of all emergency numbers, hotel numbers, addresses, and Embassy contact information in case of emergency. Cuba does not have WiFi throughout the whole country and cannot be relied on in case of an emergency.

Cuban Goods
Can I bring stuff back from Cuba to the United States?

Americans are allowed to bring back items such as artwork, music, or informational material if purchased from independent Cuban entrepreneurs that have obtained a license from the Cuban government to operate as an independent Cuban entrepreneur.

 

What are the typical things to purchase as gifts to bring back?

Cuban rum:

  • Some famous brands include:
    • Havana Club
    • Santiago
    • Legendario Ron Dorado

Cuban cigars:

  • Some famous brands include:
    • Cohiba
    • Romeo y Julieta
    • Montecristo

Hand-made art and crafts

 

Can I bring back cigars and rum? Is there a limit as to how much I can bring back?

Yes, Americans traveling abroad can bring back Cuban cigars and rum as long as it is for personal consumption only.

Normal limits on duty and tax exemptions will apply.

Go here for more information on limits on duty and tax exemptions.

Food
Restaurant Recommendations/Dish Recommendations

We’ve put together a great list of restaurants in all the major cities we travel to. Check out our Discover More page, select the city, and find some good eats.

 

Is it safe to eat food from street vendors?

It is not recommended to order from street vendors due to hygienic reasons. However, tour guides can recommend on site accordingly.

 

Common foods found in Cuba

The most iconic Cuban dish is rice, black beans, and chicken. However, Cuba is known for its colorful foods and amazing flavors. Try paella, chicharrones, picadillo cua cua, and more in Cuba.

 

Is the water safe to drink in Cuba?

It is best to drink bottled water. Regular and sparkling water is available.

Water is purified at hotels that are included or recommended by Cuba Travel Services. It is safe to brush your teeth with tap water from these hotels.

Water is also purified at restaurants included in tours or recommended by Cuba Travel Services. It is safe to drink water with ice and eat salads and fruits from the restaurants we take you to on tours.

 

I am vegan/vegetarian/have allergies/have special dietary needs. What is the best way to assure I will not ingest something I shouldn’t?

Please inform Cuba Travel Services in advance of any dietary restrictions so all parties involved are informed. Always remind tour guide to advise every restaurant on this issue.

OFAC Categories
What are the OFAC Categories?

The licensed categories include:

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

 

How do I know which category to apply under?

The general licenses are self-qualifying. Familiarize yourself with the categories from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and determine which category best fits with your purpose of travel.

 

All visas are authorized by OFAC. If you are unsure of which category you should be traveling under please contact OFAC at 1-202-622-2480 or visit their website.

 

Please note: A visa is a completely different document from the Affidavit for Travel. This form is provided by your airline.

When to Go
When is the best time to visit?

To get the best of the tropical weather that Cuba offers, visit between November and April. It is generally warm, humid and sunny but mild compared to the summer months.

 

Peak tourist season runs mid-December to mid-March, and all of July and August. Hotels tend to book quickly and require advance booking during peak season so we advise to book well in advance.

 

Be aware that there is a risk of hurricanes from June to November with September and October being the most threatening months. Some resorts may only be partially open or shutdown due to hurricane risk.

What To Pack
What should I bring?

We recommend bringing the following items:

  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Medications
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Band aids
  • Ibuprofen
  • Cash
  • Small gifts for kids and locals
  • Art supplies
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wash cloths (not provided at most hotels)
  • Toilet paper (good to have your own at public restrooms)

 

Clothing

Cuba generally ranges from warm to hot weather. We recommend lightweight clothing. It is advisable that visitors bring cotton and similar type fabric clothing.

We also suggest bringing lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. Many Cuban streets are made of cobblestone.

During the winter and rainy months, sweaters and jackets are suggested.

More formal clothing is required for theaters, concert halls, nightclubs, and formal venues.

The style in Cuba for both men and women is to dress in colorful clothing, often displaying a confident and bold appearance.

 

Can I bring donations?

It is recommended to use the word gifts instead of donations as donations require other customs procedures when entering Cuba.

Donations in small amounts are acceptable while visiting Cuba.

Bring limited quantities of small items because too many of one item may cause delays upon entry.

If you plan to bring donations, please inform your tour guide and they can direct you to the correct place to make the donation.

Weather in Cuba

Cuba offers a hot and sunny tropical climate with two distinct seasons. The dry season runs from November to April. The wet season begins in May and runs until November. Keep in mind that it may however rain at any time, so it is wise to always have rain gear when traveling to Cuba. The temperatures in Cuba can range from the 60’s during the wet season (though not very common) to the 90’s during the dry season. It is common to have AC in restaurants, hotels, and other indoor facilities.  Keep in mind that not all places have AC in Cuba. Bring insect repellent as the tropical weather also means a lot of mosquitos at dusk and at dawn. Be aware that there is a risk of hurricanes from June to November with September and October being the most threatening months.

Who Can Travel

In order to travel to Cuba, you must travel under one of the OFAC categories.

The categories include:

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

Some categories might require specific visas to enter Cuba.  Take time to go over your travel plans with your agent to identify what type of visa is right for you.

Airport Customs in Cuba
Do I need to declare how much money I am bringing into Cuba?

Travelers must declare how much cash they are carrying if it exceeds $5,000 USD per person.

 

Can I bring donations?

It is recommended to use the word gifts instead of donations as donations require other customs procedures when entering Cuba.

Donations in small amounts are acceptable while visiting Cuba.

Bring limited quantities of small items because too many of one item may cause delays upon entry.

If you plan to bring donations, please inform your tour guide and they can direct you to the correct place to make the donation.

 

Can I bring my dog or cat with me on our trip?

According to Cuban customs regulations, dogs and cats are allowed to enter the country. Each pet must be accompanied by a health and vaccination certificate issued by a veterinarian stating that the animal is healthy and up to date on their vaccinations. It is mandatory their rabies vaccination is up to date. Upon entering the country, health certificates, vaccination records, and the pet will be inspected by the official in charge of sanitary and phytosanitary regulations.

Electronics and Internet
Is there internet access in Cuba?

WiFi is not available all throughout Cuba.

Some hotels have a business center with a computer and limited hours that the Internet is available. Hotels usually charge for Internet time and can be upwards of 12 CUC per hour.

There are some WiFi hot spots throughout the larger cities where Internet cards can be purchased for access.

 

Will my cell phone, smart phone, or PDA device work in Cuba?

Generally, your United States cell phone will not work in Cuba unless attached to WiFi.

Phone calls may be placed from your guest room in your hotel. Inquire about rates before placing calls as they are can be very expensive and must be paid for in cash.

Note: Satellite phones and GPS devices are not allowed in Cuba. This restriction does not apply to the GPS on your cell phone as it won’t work while in Cuba.

 

What is the electric capability in Cuba?

Electrical outlets:

The electric standard is the 110V outlet, which is the same as the United States. It is common to find both 110V outlet and 220V outlet in the more modern hotels. It is advisable to bring a converter (105-240V) if your electronics are not travel-ready.

Outages:

Though many hotels are well equipped, it is possible to experience temporary power outages in Cuba.

Exploring/Getting Around
Do I need a Cuba tour guide?

Not necessarily, but it is highly recommended as tour guides are very resourceful.

A tour guide is bilingual and can help translate with restaurants, street vendors, and local craft markets. They are local and can provide cultural insights on the island. They can also assist with any changes to the program or last-minute issues while in Cuba.

Our company can provide you with outstanding Tour Manager service if requested prior to your trip.

 

Time from Airport to hotel?

Depends on the location of your hotel. Typically, a car ride from Havana Airport to Old Havana is approximately 40 minutes.

Pre-planning your transfer can remove most of the hassle. Here you can pre-book your transfer from the airport or between cities.

Fees
What is the $35 visa processing fee for?

The $35 processing fee covers the administration and processing of ordering and receiving visas directly from the CUBAN Embassy in Washington D.C. If you have any additional questions feel free to contact us.

 

Administrative Fees / Booking Fees:

Administrative Fees and Booking Fees if applicable will be clearly marked on your invoice or itemized at the time of your final booking payment. Administrative and booking fees are applied to help cover the administrational costs devoted to the operation and as such they are non-refundable regardless of cancellation of services.

How Do I Get There?
How do I get there?

Contact one of our customer service representatives at 1-800-963-CUBA (2822) to book your flight.

Flight reservations booked with commercial air carriers can be paid with any major credit card. Confirmation for your flight reservation will be sent via email.

You will need a visa* to enter Cuba. Once you have your flight reservation booked for Cuba, you can purchase your visa on online here.

If you are traveling to the Havana Airport, we offer here from the airport to hotels and casas particulares in Havana city for $30.00.

*Note: Visas purchased on our site can only be issued for direct departures out of the United States to Cuba.

Services Offered
Do you offer tours or travel packages to Cuba?

Visit Cuba Tour Planner for current excellent and attractive packages available on a Support for Cuban people program or contact one of our Customer Service Representatives for a more customized program.

 

Do you arrange group travel?

Yes please contact one of our Customer Service Representatives for additional information. We work on multiple types of group programs on the various licenses and have a dedicated group department to service your requests.

Additional Tips
Additional Tips for Travel
  • Write down all relevant information about where you’re staying. Googling the address to your hotel so you can tell your driver where to take you, is not a thing in Cuba
  • All visitors must hold a valid passport in their name with a corresponding travel visa or travel card. Travel visas must be issued by the Cuban Embassy in the U.S. not from an outside country.
  • The following are exempt from taxes: objects for personal use, personal jewelry, photographic or video cameras, sports items, fishing tackle, 2 bottles of spirits, one carton of cigarettes, and up to 10 kilos of medications.
  • Items that are prohibited in Cuba are narcotics and firearms, except for duly authorized hunting weapons.
  • In order to export works of art or antiques, the corresponding authorization should be sought from the National Register of Cultural Items of the Heritage Department in the Ministry of Culture.
  • It is advisable that visitors bring cotton and similar type fabric clothing. It is recommended that fine woolen and gabardine clothing be brought for use during the winter months and for air-conditioned environments. During the rainy season, a light water proof jacket is recommended. More formal clothing is required for theaters, concert halls, night clubs and formal venues.
  • Photos and video footage maybe freely taken, except in restricted and designated areas that are of a military nature. Museums have their own specific regulations.
  • Wi-Fi is not available in most places; however, larger hotel chains and restaurants may have it for a small fee or complementary.
  • Bring cash and exchange currency prior to arriving to Cuba
Taxi and Shuttle
How to get from the airport to my hotel?
  • If you are traveling to the Havana Airport we offer here from the airport to hotels and casas particulares (private homes) in Havana city for $30.00
  • For all other airports you may book a taxi/transfer here or call us at 1-800-963-CUBA (2822)

 

Can I prepay my taxi/transfer?
  • Yes! You can prepay in US dollars for rides from the airport and for rides to get around Cuba. Click here for more details.
  • We also offer transfers from city to another. Click here for more details.

 

Can I take a taxi/transfer from one city to another?
  • Yes! We offer transfers for all cities in Cuba. Click here or call us at 1-800-963-CUBA (2822)

Still Have a Question?

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