If you’re thinking about visiting Cuba, you’ve probably seen people online using the words “Cuba tourist card” and “Cuba visa” interchangeably. However, despite having similar names, the Cuba Tourist Card and the Cuba Visa are actually two totally different documents. To top things off, a few countries don’t require a Tourist Card or Visa to enter Cuba.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the difference between the Cuba Tourist Card and the Cuba Visa. Most importantly, we will show you how to get the Cuba Tourist Card, which is probably the one you will need if you’re traveling to Cuba for tourism.
Do You Need a Visa to Go to Cuba?
Only citizens of certain countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia will need a Cuba Visa. A Cuba Visa is required if you’re traveling from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka.
Additionally, you may need a visa if you are traveling to Cuba for business, journalism, and family purposes. In other special cases, such as when traveling as a student or to hold events, the Cuban government may require you to apply for a visa.
If you are not on this list, you likely need a Cuba Tourist Card, and you can skip this section.
How to Get a Visa for Cuba?
If you are a citizen of one of the countries mentioned above, or you are traveling for purposes other than tourism, you will need to contact the Consulate or Embassy of Cuba in your country to apply for a visa for Cuba.
Do You Need a Cuba Tourist Card?
Almost everyone traveling to Cuba for tourism purposes needs a Cuba Tourist Card, also known as Cuba Tourist Visa. The only countries exempt from the Cuba Tourist Card are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bosnia, China, Dominica, Grenada, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Mongolia, Namibia, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Serbia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
To put it simply, the Cuba Tourist Card (“Tarjeta del Turista”) permits you to visit Cuba temporarily. A standard Cuba Tourist Card grants you a maximum stay of 30 days in Cuba unless you’re Canadian – then you get 90 days! You can also use it within 180 days of issuance.
Pink or Green: What Cuba Tourist Card Should You Get?
Cuban Tourist Cards come in two colors: pink and green. The color depends on the country of origin you’re traveling from. If you travel directly from the U.S. to Cuba, you’ll need a pink Cuban Tourist Card. Green Cuban Tourist Cards are used for travelers who make a pit stop in a non-U.S. country before arriving in Cuba.
Knowing the distinction between the two colors is easy, but knowing which one to buy can be a little trickier, especially if you’re taking a multi-leg flight. Before you buy your card online, take a look at your itinerary and check the last airport you depart from: this is the airport that determines which color card you need.
FYI: pink cards are pricier than green cards because of the rocky relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.
Do You Need a Special Visa to Cuba from the USA?
Nope! Americans get the same Cuba Tourist Card as travelers from Canada or Europe.
If you fly to Cuba from the U.S., you’ll need a pink version of the Cuba Tourist Card. If you fly from a different country, you’ll need the green Tourist Card, even if you’re an American citizen.
Keep in mind that the U.S. government has a few other stipulations for American travelers. For example, before you head to Cuba, you’ll need to declare a travel category, like Support for the Cuban People. It sounds tricky, but we promise that our article for Americans traveling to Cuba makes it easy.
What Are the Cuba Tourist Card Requirements?
The application process is easy, and you only need a few requirements. Here’s what you need to get a Cuba Tourist Card:
- Valid passport
- Application form
- Travel itinerary
- Travel insurance (we recommend RoamRight for comprehensive Cuba insurance)
If you only have the first two, you can still get started with your application. You’ll only need your itinerary and travel insurance in hand when you arrive at the airport in Cuba.
How Much Does the Cuba Tourist Card Cost?
You can expect the Cuba Tourist Card to cost anywhere between 25 USD and 85 USD, depending on how you apply for it. While the price of the card itself isn’t high, you may have to pay additional fees from airlines or shipping costs if you order it online.
Take a look at the section below to see a more detailed price breakdown for each option.
How to Get a Cuba Tourist Card?
You can get the Cuba Tourist Card online, from your airline or travel agency, or at the Cuban embassy in your country. There’s no right or wrong way, but you’ll probably find that some methods are easier or less expensive than others.
Here are the four ways to get a Cuba Tourist Card for your upcoming trip:
1. Buy it Online
This is by far the easiest way to get your Cuba Tourist Card. Sites like EasyTouristCard make it quick and convenient to order it from the comfort of your home. Plus, you can purchase it well ahead of time and have it mailed to your address, so you don’t need to stress about picking it up at the last minute. You’ll also be able to skip the Tourist Card line at the airport, which means one less line you have to stand in before you arrive in sunny Cuba.
2. Buy it From Your Airline
Some airlines allow you to purchase the Cuba Tourist Card directly from them. Every airline handles the Tourist Card process differently, so we recommend checking in with your airline of choice to make sure you’re on the same page.
Some airlines have you pick up your tourist card at the gate before boarding your flight, while others hand out the card mid-flight. If you need to pick up your card in person, be sure to pad in some extra time if there’s a line.
The cost of the Cuba Tourist Card is usually bundled in with your flight, but the price itself (shown in USD) varies from airline to airline.
American Airlines: $85.00 ($50.00 visa price + $35.00 processing fee). Buy your card online or at the gate in Miami before departure.
Southwest: $75.00 ($50.00 visa price: + $25.00 processing fee). Order online or via phone and pick up your card inside the Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) or Tampa (TPA) airport at check-in or your departure gate.
Delta: $50.00. Purchased at the gate.
Jet Blue: $50.00. Purchased from JetBlue at gateway airport.
Air Canada: Passed out during the flight.
United Airlines: $75.00 ($50 Visa price + $25 processing fee).
3. Buy it From Your Country’s Cuban Embassy or Consulate
This is the hardest way to buy the Cuba Tourist Card since you have to go in person with the necessary paperwork. Price varies depending on the embassy, but you can expect to pay between $20 to $75 for the card.
4. Buy it from your travel agency
Traveling through an agency or tour company can be extremely helpful since they’ll take care of most of the details for you – as long as they’re reputable. Most travel agencies will bundle the Cuba Tourist Card into their existing Cuba travel packages.
Can You Get the Tourist Card for Cuba on Arrival?
Technically, you can get the Cuba Tourist Card at Havana Airport, or any other Cuban airport, for the equivalent of about 25 USD (you won’t be able to buy it in Cuban currency or US dollars). However, in most cases, you can’t even board your flight if you don’t have a Cuba Tourist Card.
If somehow you manage to get to Cuba without a card, prepare yourself for the experience of navigating the Cuban infrastructure, which could entail long lines, empty booths, and slow service. This will be a true test of your patience since you won’t be able to leave the airport until your Tourist Card is in hand.
Have you recently traveled to Cuba with a Tourist Card? Are you planning to visit Cuba shortly and wondering how to get a Tourist Card for Cuba?
We hope this guide to getting the Cuba Tourist Card makes the process as smooth as stress-free as possible. Let us know in the comments!