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Comprehensive guide to obtaining a Tourist Card for Cuba

Anyone who travels to Cuba for tourism purposes has to get a Cuba Tourist Visa, which is also known as a Cuba Tourist Card.

As the name suggests, the Cuban Tourist Card (Tarjeta de Turismo) is a document which is separate from your passport. It is not affixed in your passport – it actually comes in the form of a card, either in a light green or pink color. It allows the holder to enter the country for tourism purposes.

What is the Difference Between a Cuba Tourist Card and a Cuba Tourist Visa?

In most cases, the terms Cuba Tourist Card and Cuba Tourist Visa are interchangable. However, there’s a difference between the two in one specific case.

The Tourist Card for Cuba can be obtained in a manner of ways, as explained above, including online or through travel agencies.

Who Needs a Cuba Tourist Card?

Nationals of most countries have to obtain a Tourist Card before travelling to Cuba. However, Cuba has a visa-waiver agreement with certain countries which allows citizens of those countries to enter Cuba without a Tourist Card.

Additionally, some countries cannot enter Cuba on a Tourist Card – they need to obtain a Tourist Visa from a Cuban consulate instead (see below).

Click here for a more detailed explanation of who needs a Cuba visa.

Do You Need a Cuba Tourist Visa?

There are certain countries, however, that only allow applicants to get a Cuba Tourist Visa from the Cuban consulate in their country – not a Tourist Card. Those countries are:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Cameroon
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen

Therefore, if you are from one of the above-mentioned countries, you must get a Tourist Visa from the nearest Cuban consulate.

In all other cases, other than this one, when someone says “Cuba tourist visa” they likely mean “Cuba Tourist Card” and vice-versa.

How can I get a Cuba Tourist Card?

You can get a Cuba Tourist Card in one of the following ways:

  • By applying for one at the Cuban consulate in your country in person.
    • If there is no Cuban representation in your country, you can travel to the nearest one, for example in a neighboring country.
    • Check the consulate’s opening hours and working days beforehand on the consulate’s website. Also check whether you have to make an appointment.
  • By sending the application and required documents at the Cuban consulate by post.
    • If you will send the application by post, include a pre-paid envelope with sufficient stamps and an address where the consulate can return your documents.
    • Check with the consulate’s website to see whether you need to send copies of your documents or the originals, as different consulates have different requirements.
  • By appointing a representative to apply on your behalf.
  • Online, through an authorized visa application agency. Research the agency to make sure it is legitimate.
  • Through a travel agency or tour group, who have organized a trip to Cuba.
  • At the airport through which you’re travelling to Cuba. However, not all airports offer Cuba Tourist Visas to their passengers, so contact them to make sure.

What is the Cuba Tourist Card Fee?

The fee which you must pay for a Cuba tourist visa (card) depends on the method through which you’re getting it.

If you apply at a Cuban consulate, the Cuba visa fees tend to range from $20-$75. You must pay either in cash or through bank transfer. However, check the consulate’s website to be sure of their required payment method.

Private companies which offer Cuba visas will have additional fees for the service, as do airports. Additionally, if you need to have your Tourist Card available faster, it will cost you extra.

There is no standard set of Cuba tourist card fees – you must check with the Cuban consulate, travel agency, or visa application agency, accordingly.

What are the Requirements for a Cuba Tourist Card?

When you apply for a Cuba Tourist Card, you must have the following:

  • A Cuba Visa application form.
  • A recognized passport/travel document which is valid for at least two more months from the date you intend to leave Cuba.
  • Two passport-size pictures of yourself.
  • Flight ticket which includes the arrival and departure date.
  • Travel health insurance. The Cuba travel insurance requirements state that the insurance plan must cover sudden illness, accidents, and repatriation for the duration of your stay.
  • Proof of accommodation in Cuba, such as a hotel.
  • If you apply by mail, include a pre-paid envelope with sufficient stamps and an address where the consulate can return your documents.
    • Find out whether you must send photocopies of the required documents or the originals.
  • Payment of the Cuba Tourist Visa.

How long does it take to process a Cuba Tourist Visa (Tourist Card)?

The processing time for a Cuba Tourist Visa depends on the consulate through which you’re applying. Some may take between 7-14 working days, while others may take longer or up to a month.

If you apply online or through another method, you may be able to receive the Cuba Tourist Card quicker. At some airports, you may be able to get it on the very same day.

Do I need a Cuba Tourist Card if I am Travelling by Sea?

Yes, you do. If you normally need to have a Tourist Card to enter Cuba, you must apply for one regardless of the method through which you are entering.

How Long Can I Stay in Cuba With a Tourist Visa?

A Cuba Tourist Card is valid for a maximum of 30 days, except for Canadian nationals for whom it is valid for 90 days.

You can enter Cuba within 180 days starting from when the Cuban Tourist Card is issued. You can only enter once – it is a single-entry visa.

Can you Extend a Cuba Tourist Card?

Yes, you can. You can apply for a Cuba Tourist Card extension for an additional 30 days from the Cuba immigration authorities, meaning you can stay in Cuba for a maximum of 60 days.

If you are from Canada, you can extend your Cuban tourist visa for an additional 90 days, getting permission to stay in Cuba for up to six months (180 days).

Can US Citizens Travel to Cuba?

Yes they can. However, since the US has a long-standing trade ban on Cuba, US citizens cannot travel to Cuba simply for tourism purposes. Technically, they can obtain a so-called “Tourist Card” but that’s only because it is an entry requirement for Cuba – it does not allow them to enter Cuba simply for recreational purposes or vacation.

Additionally, as of June 4, 2019 the US government has banned cruise ships from stopping in Cuba and removed the “People to People” category from the 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba (see them below).

As a US national, in order to obtain a pink tourist card for Cuba, you must state and be able to prove that you are travelling for one of the following reasons:

  1. Support for the Cuban people
  2. Humanitarian activities/projects
  3. Educational activities (teachers, students, etc)
  4. Family visits
  5. Journalism
  6. Professional research and professional meetings
  7. Certain authorized export transactions
  8. Activities of private foundations/research/educational institutes
  9. Public performances, workshops, clinics, athletic competitions, and exhibitions
  10. Religious activities
  11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informative materials

If your reason for travel is mentioned above, 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.

What is the Difference Between a Pink Cuba Tourist Card and a Green Cuba Tourist Card?

The only difference between the green and pink Cuba Tourist Card is this:

  • Pink: for US nationals or anyone travelling from the US. The price for a pink Cuba Tourist Card is also higher than for the green one.
  • Green: for all other nationals who are not travelling from the US.

The color of the Cuba tourist card depends on the place you are travelling from, so many US citizens travel to another country and get a green Tourist Card there.

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