Essential Vaccination & Visa Info for Travelers to Cuba

All travelers on vacation to Cuba require a Tourist Card to enter the country, and must take out health insurance for their trip. But what about vaccinations, and how should you go about acquiring a visa?

All travelers to Cuba must have a Tourist Card (aka a Tourist Visa) to enter Cuba. US citizens are allowed to visit Cuba if their trip fits into one of the 12 categories of the General License for Travel issued by the US Department of Treasury.

Visa Requirements for Travelers to Cuba (Not US)

Travelers flying to Cuba (not via the US) can purchase a green Cuba Tourist Card from their Cuban consulate, or a travel agent authorized to sell Cards.

Shop around as prices vary, and some airlines include the Tourist Card in the price of the flight.

US Residents Visa Requirements for Travel to Cuba

Since Barack Obama relaxed travel rules for American citizens visiting Cuba in 2016, it means travelers can self-certify for one of the 12 permitted categories for travel.

Most travelers tick the People-to-People category, which requires a full-time schedule of educational activities. In reality, nobody appears to be checking. US law requires travelers keep records of their trip.

Travel for pure tourism is still prohibited under the 1960s US Trade Embargo against Cuba. US Travelers, having ticked the appropriate category on an airline’s booking engine, can purchase a direct flight to the island and buy their pink Cuba Tourist Card through the Cuban Consulate, an airline, or at the airport.

US airlines charge different prices for the Tourist Cards; all offer complete instructions on their websites.

Foreigners on a direct flight from the US to Cuba must also abide by US law, and follow the same procedures.

Note that US citizens and foreign citizens must buy a US-issued pink Tourist Card for their direct flight to Cuba from the USA.

A Tourist Card bought elsewhere is not valid for this journey.  

Other Types of Visas for Travelers to Cuba

Other types of travel to Cuba, which require the purchase of a visa, include Journalism, Business, Event, Diplomatic, or Family.

Check your country’s requirements here.

Tourist Cards are generally issued for 30 days, and can be extended in-country for another 30 days.

Different rules and different extension prices apply for different nationalities. The extension requires the purchase of a bank stamp before attending an immigration office. 

Health Insurance Documentation for Travel to Cuba

All travelers who enter Cuba must have insurance documentation. Health insurance has been mandatory since May 2010.

Random checks made me made on entry; a definite check is made when you request to extend your stay (prorrogar) at an immigration office in Cuba.

Vaccinations for Travelers to Cuba

  • Standard vaccinations are required; protection from some mosquito-transmitted infections is essential.
  • Ensure you are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and polio.
  • Take advice on rabies, and Hepatitis A protection.
  • Carry a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate if you have recently been to a country affected by Yellow Fever.
  • Malaria is generally unknown in Cuba, but Cuba has had outbreaks of mosquito-borne Dengue, and a few confirmed cases of mosquito-transmitted Zika (187 cases were reported in 2016).
  • Cuba has also had outbreaks of Cholera; a vaccine is available.

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1 Comment

  • Philip said

    "Take advice on rabies, and Hepatitis A protection."
    Does this mean Yes it's compulsory or No it's not compulsory , for a bog standard no risk taking holiday.

    I'm asking this because 1 ) Rabies jabs are horrendously priced. From your Doctor £40 for each for 3 ( and you do have to have them in 3's right up to British Airways who'll charge you £200 for 3.

    I can't get a straight answer from Cuba embassy
    Holiday Companies ( Tui in my case ) don't know , But have said no one has ever been turned away. and I've never heard of anyone taking them.

    Someone out there must know.

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