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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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