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Before You Go: The Complete Guide to the Cuban Visa Process

If you are in the process of trying to plan a trip to Cuba, chances are you have some questions.

  1. What is the difference between a Cuban visa and a tourist card?
  2. Can I apply for a Cuban visa with a U.S. passport?
  3. Will I need to travel to Cuba with a different visa if I’m flying from the U.S. or somewhere else?
  4. What is the difference between a pink card and a green card?

Though it may feel a bit overwhelming, obtaining your Cuban visa is not that difficult, as long as you have the right resources to help you through it.

Key Takeaway
  • Most travelers can visit Cuba with a Tourist Card, which can be obtained online.
  • Americans visiting Cuba (or anyone traveling from the U.S.) need a Pink tourist Card.
  • Travelers visiting Cuba from elsewhere (who are not starting from the United States) need a Green tourist Card.
  • All travelers need to have a valid passport, insurance and a Tourist Card to visit Cuba.
  • Travel to Cuba from the US is allowed when traveling under one of the 12 OFAC reasons.

Planning a trip to Cuba involves understanding the intricacies of the Cuban visa process, which can be a bit confusing for travelers, especially if you've never gone through the process before.

From understanding the distinction between the different types of visa documents to navigating the application process, it can be helpful to work with an organization that is well-versed in Cuban travel requirements.

Let's dive into some of the key aspects of the Cuban travel visa process and help you create a clear roadmap to this vibrant Caribbean destination.

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

First things first, let's clarify the terminology.

A Cuban Visa and a Tourist Card are often used interchangeably, but there are distinctions to be aware of.

The Cuban Visa is the official travel document issued by the Cuban government, while the Tourist Card is a specific type of Cuban Visa designed for tourists called a Cuban Tourist Visa

Almost everyone traveling to Cuba for tourism needs a Cuba Tourist Card (“Tarjeta del Turista”).

If you hold a European, North American, South American, or Central American passport you can apply for a Cuba tourist card either through the Cuban consulate in your country of residence, the Cuban Embassy, or through us here actively Easy Tourist Card. →

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Who Can Use a Tourist Card?

Let's look at the requirements for obtaining a Tourist Card for Cuba and the specific purposes of travel associated with it:

For visitors traveling from outside the United States:

Tourism: For all visitors traveling from outside the United States, the primary purpose of obtaining a Tourist Card is tourism.

For visitors traveling from United States:

Traveling to Cuba from the United States is subject to specific regulations outlined by the U.S. government. U.S. and foreign citizens traveling from the U.S must have a valid reason for their visit under one of the 12 categories of permitted reasons for travel to Cuba, as defined by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This may require them getting Cuban Visitors Visa.

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These categories include:

   Family Visits: Traveling to reunite with close relatives in Cuba.
   Official Government Business: Engaging in official government-related activities.
   Journalistic Activity: Conducting journalistic work or reporting.
   Professional Research or Meetings: Pursuing professional research or attending meetings in Cuba.
   Professional Research or Meetings: Pursuing professional research or attending meetings in Cuba.
   Religious Activities: Engaging in religious activities and interactions.
   Sports and Public Events: Participating in sports and public events.
   Support for the Cuban People: Involvement in activities that support the Cuban civil society's interests.
   Humanitarian Projects: Contributing to humanitarian projects, including medical care, environmental initiatives, and more.
   Research: Undertaking research activities in Cuba.
   Informational Materials: Engaging in activities related to publishing, music, film, and more.
   Authorized Export Activities: Conducting authorized export transactions.
   Non-immigrant Cuban Nationals: This category primarily applies to Cuban citizens and Cuban passport holders.

U.S. citizens selecting the "Support for the Cuban People" category often find it suitable, which involves engaging with local Cubans and actively participating in activities that promote a rapid and peaceful transition to democracy.

Remember that regulations may change, and it's crucial to stay informed about the latest requirements when traveling from the United States to Cuba. You can do that here on our website, where we always have the most up-to-date information available, regardless of your nationality.

Can You Apply for a Cuban Visa with a U.S. Passport?

If you are a U.S. passport holder, you can certainly apply for a Cuba Visa.

That said, to enter Cuba, a U.S. passport holder will need to be aware of a few unique regulations.

The Green Card:

The Green Cuba Tourist Card is the Cuban Tourist Card intended for travelers departing from countries other than the United States.

If you hold a passport from anywhere other than the U.S. and are flying to Cuba from a location outside the United States, this is the card you'll need. It is available for tourists and visitors from various nationalities worldwide.

Green Card

The Pink Card:

For U.S. passport holders and foreign nationals originating their journey from the United States, the Pink Cuba Tourist Card is the essential document.

This pink-hued Tourist Card is specifically designed for travelers (U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens) that are coming from the U.S. or anywhere else in the world.

Please Note: While the rules around Americans traveling to Cuba can sometimes change, we at Easy Tourist Card highly recommend that ALL Americans travel to Cuba with a Pink Tourist Card. It may cost a bit more upfront, but will save you hassle and possible disappointment upon arrival in Cuba.

Pink Card

Understanding the 12 OFAC Reasons

Navigating the 12 OFAC reasons can be a puzzle for U.S. travelers.

When returning to the United States, any person who holds a U.S. passport may be asked for proof of compliance with one of the following reasons, so it's essential to keep relevant documentation handy.

  1. Family visits: Travel for family-related reasons, including visiting close relatives, as long as there are no more than three generations removed from you or a common ancestor.
  2. Official government business: For contractors, employees, and grantees of the U.S. government, foreign governments, or intergovernmental organizations.
  3. Journalistic activity: Engaging in journalistic activities, including reporting, writing, and supporting technical personnel or freelance journalists with experience in the field.
  4. Professional research or meetings: Travel for research or attending professional meetings and conferences in your respective field.
  5. Religious activities: Participation in religious activities conducted by religious organizations, along with their staff and members, with a full-time schedule of religious activities.
  6. Sports and public events: Travel for participation in sports events and public performances, workshops, clinics, and exhibits.
  7. Support for the Cuban people: Involvement with independent organizations that promote a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba, or individuals and non-governmental organizations supporting the Cuban civil society.
  8. Humanitarian projects: Engagement in various humanitarian projects, such as medical care, environmental initiatives, educational training, and small-scale enterprise development.
  9. Research: Conducting research in Cuba for non-commercial purposes.
  10. Informational materials: Activities related to the publishing, music, and film industries, such as the exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials.
  11. Authorized export activities: Engaging in authorized export transactions that directly support the Cuban people.
  12. Non-immigrant Cuban Nationals: Travel for Cuban citizens and Cuban passport holders residing in the U.S., allowing them to visit their home country.

These OFAC categories provide U.S. citizens with specific purposes for traveling to Cuba while adhering to legal requirements and regulations.

For instance, most U.S. citizens travel under the "Support for the Cuban People" category, engaging with local Cubans and supporting their businesses can help fulfill this requirement. Those traveling for business purposes may qualify under certain OFAC categories, which would serve as their Cuban business visa.

In a situation like this, it would be important to keep hotel and taxi receipts and proof of purchases that will all help to make your intent clear.

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How Do I Apply for a Cuban Visa from Countries Other Than the U.S.?

If you're not traveling from the U.S., you'll typically require a Green Tourist Card, which is the standard Tourist Card issued to non-U.S. citizens flying from countries outside the United States.

You can easily obtain a Green Tourist Card online with us. We will ship it to your house in 3-7 business days.

If you prefer to visit an embassy in order to obtain a Green Tourist Card, the process is pretty straightforward.

  1. Check Eligibility: Ensure your eligibility based on nationality and travel purposes.
  2. Locate the Cuban Embassy or Consulate: Find the nearest Cuban diplomatic mission for visa applications.
  3. Gather Required Documents: Prepare essentials—valid passport, proof of travel insurance, and application fee.
  4. Visit Embassy/Consulate: Schedule an appointment or visit during business hours, bearing in mind potential queues.
  5. Pay the Tourist Card fee: Many embassies/consulates only accept cash, so bear in mind to bring cash.
  6. Receive Your Green Card: Upon payment, receive your Green Tourist Card for a “hassle-free” Cuban adventure.

By adhering to these steps and meeting eligibility criteria, you'll successfully secure a Green Tourist Card for exploring Cuba from countries other than the U.S.

Visa Application

Differences Between the Pink Cuba Tourist Card and the Green Cuba Tourist Card

The primary distinction between the Pink Tourist Card and the Green Tourist Card is the traveler's origin.

U.S. citizens and travelers departing from the U.S. need a Pink Tourist Card, travelers flying from countries other than the U.S. are issued the Green Tourist Card.

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Cuba Pink Tourist Card

For US nationals or those departing from a US airport. Explore Cuba for up to 90 days within 180 days of issuance. Extend your Cuban escape by 30 days (90 for Canadians) for €95.00. Your journey to Cuba begins here

What is the Validity of the Cuban Tourist Card?

The validity of the Cuban Tourist Card is an important aspect to understand before traveling to Cuba.

It typically allows for a stay of up to 90 days and is valid for a single entry into the country.

Here's an example: Let's say you enter Cuba on January 1st. In this case, your Cuban Tourist Card would be valid until March 31st, allowing you to stay for the full 90 days.

Another example: Let's say you plan to leave Cuba temporarily (e.g., for a day trip to a nearby destination) and return. In this case, you would need a new Cuban Tourist Card.

Is Insurance Needed to Enter Cuba?

Yes, Cuba requires all travelers to have travel medical insurance.

Cuban local authorities require all travelers to have valid travel health insurance that covers any potential medical expenses or medical evacuation during their stay in Cuba.

This requirement is strictly enforced, so make sure to carry proof of your insurance coverage, which may be requested upon arrival.

If you are in need of travel insurance valid for Cuban travel, you can purchase this when applying for your Cuban Tourist Card through our website at Easy Tourist Card when you are checking out.

Note: “While Cuba mandates that all travelers to the country possess travel medical insurance, all U.S. airlines automatically include the required level of travel medical insurance in your ticket. If your stay in Cuba extends beyond 30 days, or you aren't flying on a U.S. airline, you may need to acquire additional insurance to ensure coverage for the remaining duration of your visit. It's best to check with your airline for more detailed information”

How to Apply for a Cuban Tourist Card?

Applying for a Cuban Tourist Card can be a daunting task when done through embassies or airline counters, involving queues, cash payments, and uncertainty.

Companies of all sizes and shapes now use Step and Repeat Banners to promote their brands at all sorts of various events.

However, using an Easy Tourist Card (ETC) simplifies the process.

ETC offers online applications, expedited delivery, worldwide shipping, and even provides insurance if needed. We are experts in this field, ensuring your Cuban adventure starts hassle-free.

How to Apply

Easy Tourist Card: Your Best Option for the Best Trip to Cuba

When you are ready to apply for your Cuba visa, we encourage you to start here.

At Easy Tourist Card, we understand the requirements of the Cuban visa for travel and have helped thousands of people obtain it.

Travelers who use the Cuba Tourist Card program will first fill out the application, pay the fee online, and then complete their cards upon receiving them.

It's that quick and easy!

Explore Cuba Hassle Free

Green Tourist Cards for all non-US airport travelers. 90 days' adventure within 180 days of issuance. Extendable for extra fun! Canadian citizens get up to 120 days! Your Cuban journey awaits

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