If you’re thinking about visiting Cuba, you’ve probably heard words like “Cuban tourist card” and “Cuba visa” floating around. It’s true that visiting Cuba requires a bit more paperwork than visiting most other countries, but that shouldn’t put a halt to your Cuba plans. In fact, getting a tourist card for Cuba isn’t too challenging if you know what to do.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to get a tourist card for Cuba, including what documents you need, how to apply, and where to pick it up.
Do You Need a Tourist Card or a Visa to Go to Cuba?
Despite having similar names, the Cuban Tourist Card and the Cuban Visa are actually two totally different documents. Travelers from most countries will only need a Cuban Tourist Card. However, citizens of certain countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia will need a Cuban Visa. To top things off, there are a few countries that don’t require a Tourist Card or Visa to enter Cuba.
Since the Cuban Tourist Card is by far the more common of the two, let’s break it down so you understand what you need. To put it simply, the Cuban Tourist Card (Tarjeta del Turista) gives you permission to visit Cuba on a temporary basis. A standard Cuban Tourist Card grants you a maximum stay of 30 days in Cuba unless you’re Canadian – then you get 90 days!
Who needs a Cuban Tourist Card to visit Cuba?
Everyone traveling to Cuba, regardless of country of origin, needs a Cuban Tourist Card. The only countries exempt from the Cuban Tourist Card or Cuban Visa 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.
Who needs a Cuban Visa to visit Cuba?
The Cuban 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.
Pink or Green: What Cuban Tourist Card Should You Get?
Cuban 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 US Citizens Need a Special Visa to Cuba from USA?
Nope! Americans get the same Cuban 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 Cuban 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. Before you head to Cuba, you’ll need to declare a category of travel, 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 Cuban 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 Cuban Tourist Card Cost?
You can expect the Cuban Tourist Card to cost anywhere between $25 and $85, 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 Cuban Tourist Card?
You can get the Cuban 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 Cuban Tourist Card for your upcoming trip:
1. Buy it Online
This is by far the easiest way to get your Cuban 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 Cuban 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 in case there’s a line.
The cost of the Cuban Tourist Card is usually bundled in with your flight, but the price itself 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 at 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
This is the hardest way to buy the Cuban 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 Cuban Tourist Card into their existing Cuba travel packages.
Can You Get the Cuban Tourist Card on Arrival?
Technically, you can get the Cuban Tourist Card at Havana Airport, or any other Cuban airport, for about 25 CUC (a.k.a. the Cuban Convertible Peso used by tourists). However, in most cases, you can’t even board your flight if you don’t have a Cuban Tourist Card.
If somehow you do 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 in the near future and wondering how to get a Tourist Card for Cuba?
We hope this guide to getting the Cuban Tourist Card makes the process as smooth as stress-free as possible. Let us know in the comments!