Tips for traveling to Cuba
1-» All visitors must hold a valid passport in their name with a corresponding travel
visa or travel card. Travel visas must be issued by the Cuban Embassy in the U.S.
not from an outside country.
2-» The following are exempt from taxes: objects for personal use, personal jewelry,
photographic or video cameras, sports items, fishing tackle, 2 bottles of spirits,
one carton of cigarettes, and up to 10 kilos of medications.
3-» Items that are prohibited in Cuba are narcotics and firearms, except for duly
authorized hunting weapons.
4-» In order to export works of art or antiques, the corresponding authorization
should be sought from the National Register of Cultural Items of the Heritage
Department in the Ministry of Culture.
5-» It is advisable that visitors bring cotton and similar type fabric clothing. It is
recommended that fine woolen and gabardine clothing be brought for use
during the winter months and for air-conditioned environments. During the rainy
season, a light water proof jacket is recommended. More formal clothing is
required for theaters, concert halls, night clubs and formal venues.
6-» Photos and video footage maybe freely taken, except in restricted and
designated areas that are of a military nature. Museums have their own
7-» Is there Internet access in Cuba?
Wi-Fi is not available throughout Cuba except at some hotels. Most hotels
also have a business center with computer, with limited hours, where internet
service is available. Charges can be up to 12 CUC per hour depending on the
hotel. Because of the limited technology in Cuba, it is not uncommon to have
internet outages. There are now certain Wi-Fi hot spots throughout public
areas in Cuban cities where a card can be purchased for access.
Will my cell phone, smart phone or PDA device work in Cuba?
Generally, your U.S. cell phone, texting and smart phone-based Internet will not
work in Cuba. Any phone calls may be placed from your guest room in each
hotel. Inquire about rates before placing calls, as they are generally very expensive
and must be paid for in cash. Also, please note that satellite phones are not
allowed in Cuba.
8-»Who do I contact in case of an emergency?
If you have an emergency and need assistance, and you are a US Citizen or
resident, you may contact the US Embassy while there. Otherwise, please
contact your corresponding embassy or consulate. If you need to call the police
while there, you will want to dial 106 from a local telephone for any emergency.
Otherwise, you can also dial 104 for an ambulance and 105 for the fire
department. Note that you will not find an English-speaking person that answers.
U.S. Embassy contact information:
Calzada between L & M Streets, Vedado, Havana
Main switchboard (53) (7) 839-4100
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed on U.S. and Cuban Holidays)
Emergencies/After Hours: call main switchboard at (+53 (7)-831-4100, dial 1 to
speak with emergency operator
9-»What is the currency in Cuba?
The major legal currency for Cuba is the Cuban Convertible Peso, CUC. It’s what
you exchange your foreign currency for and make all your purchases with in Cuba.
Most tourists will only ever deal with CUC. For international exchange purposes
1.00 Cuban Convertible Peso = $1.00 USD. Note that there is a 13% penalty
charged when exchanging USA dollars cash, so, you will only receive 87 centavos
CUC for one USA dollar when changing the money, allowing for the 13% interest.
The second legal currency in Cuba is the Cuban Peso, CUP, which is rarely used
by the vast majority of tourists, but it’s still something you should know about as it
is perfectly legal for tourists to use.
10-»How do I exchange money in Cuba?
You can exchange USD for CUC at the airport, most hotels, exchange bureau in
town centers and some banks. The current fee for exchanging is 13%, i.e. for 100
USD you will get 87 CUC. The fee is the same no matter where you exchange
your currency. You will need your passport to exchange money. In Cuba, they will
not accept bills that are torn or written on when exchanging into CUC.
When exchanging money into CUC, try to get small denominations to make
purchases easier, as many places (little stores, bars and restaurants do not always
have the possibility to break down larger notes for you).
11-»Where can I exchange money in Cuba?
You can exchange money at the airport, some hotels or banks. We suggest that
you do not use Travelers Checks because they are not insured and may not be
accepted. Therefore, it is essential to travel with enough cash during your entire
stay in Cuba. Note: You may find small locations called Cadecas where you can
also exchange money.
12-»Can I use my credit card of traveler’s checks?
US-issued credit cards, debit cards, and ATM cards were not previously usable
in Cuba; this is changing with new regulations and more and more places will
start to accept these for purchases or withdrawals, but not yet! It is advisable to
bring cash in order to make any purchases in Cuba or pay for most services. Most
places will not take USD, so you must exchange currency upon arriving. Tips
however can be given in any currency. Traveler’s Checks may also be difficult to
cash while in Cuba.
13-»What should I bring?
» Bug Spray
» Sunscreen and Sun Hats
» Comfortable Clothing, Walking Shoes (casual attire)
» Medications and OTC drugs, band aids, etc.
» CASH (CC and ATM machines are not yet readily available)
» Small gifts for kids and locals, depending on itinerary (for example, school
supplies, small toys, candies, art supplies, band aids, OTC drugs)
» Hand sanitizer
» Wash Cloths (not provided at most hotels)
What should I expect on arrival into Cuba?
Upon arrival to Cuba, you will make your way to immigration with your visa and
passport. Make sure to fill out the blue customs form and white health form prior
to arrival. Cuban born travelers also require an additional entry form. Be prepared
for questions they may ask, and a photo will be taken during the check-in process.
You will then turn in your customs and health form to an official.
Official’s typical questions:
» How many days are you planning to stay?
» Where are you staying?
» Are you traveling alone?
» This is you first time visiting the country?
» What is the purpose of your travel?
Is the water safe to drink in Cuba?
It is best to drink bottled water while in Cuba. You will find that both still and
sparkling water are available. Water is purified in the hotels and restaurants, and
it is ok to drink beverages with ice wherever we take you on the tour. It is also
not necessary to use bottled water to brush your teeth, as the tap water has
also been purified. Salads and fruits are also acceptable to eat at all included or
14-»How safe is Cuba?
Though Cuba is generally a very safe place to travel (more than other parts of the
world), it is always best to watch your belongings and beware of pick-pockets
and purse snatchers. Leave expensive jewelry in the safe and only carry what you
need for that day. You may see some kids or older adults begging on the streets,
sometimes asking for soap, pens, etc. Though a nuisance, this is not considered to
Hotels are equipped with safety deposit boxes and may charge a per day fee.
Check with the front desk. It is advisable to leave valuables, including passports
in the safe. A copy of the passport should suffice for ID purposes. You will
however need your passport for exchanging of currency.
15-»What is the electric capability in Cuba?
In Cuba we have the same Electric standards as in US: 110V, though it is common
to find both 110 and 220 in the more modern hotels in Cuba. It is advisable to
bring a converter, if your electronics are not travel-ready (105-240 V).
Though many hotels are well equipped, in Cuba it is possible to experience
temporary power outages due to limited resources on the island. Though this
seems to be happening less frequently in the past few years.
16-»May I purchase items in Cuba and bring them back with me to
You may acquire in Cuba and import as accompanied baggage into the
United States merchandise with no monetary value, provided that it is for
personal use only.
17-»What is the weather like?
The rainy season in Cuba typically runs from May to November and the dry
season is between December and April. Keep in mind that it may however rain
at any time, so it is wise to always have rain gear when traveling to Cuba. The
temperatures in Cuba can range from the 60’s in the winter (though not very
common) to the 90’s in the summer months. Wear comfortable, cool clothing.
It is common to have AC in restaurants, hotels, and other indoor facilities. Keep
in mind that not all places have AC in Cuba. Bring insect repellent as the tropical
weather also means a lot of mosquitos at dusk and at dawn.