How To Get A Cuban Tourist Card or Visa
Americans traveling to Cuba today need three things: a passport, a general license, and a Cuban Tourist Card.
Here's the latest on how to get a Cuban Tourist Card. The new Cuba travel policies for Americans do not affect the Tourist Card. Once you give the article a read feel free to message us or ask a Cuban travel expert for help.
Cuban Tourist Card vs. Cuban Visa
First, a Cuban Tourist Card and a Cuban Visa are actually different documents. Travelers from every country, including the United States, need a Cuban Tourist Card to enter. Only a few African and Middle Eastern countries actually need a Cuban Visa instead of just a Tourist Card. Unfortunately, both words are used interchangeably on the web. If you're coming from North America, South America, or Europe you don't need a Cuban Visa, but you will need a Cuban Tourist Card.
The process for acquiring a Cuban Tourist Card is different depending on where you're entering Cuba from, namely the last airport before Cuba. Below is the process for traveling through Canada, Mexico, Panama, or the United States. It’s an easy formality to take care of, but it is essential. During your trip, be sure to treat your Cuban Tourist Card as you would your passport.
From the United States
Direct flights have started from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Houston. and New York to Cuba.
If you're flying from the US to Cuba, your airline will help arrange your Cuban Tourist Card. This card is pink, instead of the typical green Tourist Card. You will not be able to board the flight to Cuba with the green one. The cost is $50 for the pink tourist card (instead of $25 for the green one), but each airline has different fees for acquiring it. Here is a breakdown of known costs and where to acquire the tourist card for each airline:
- Southwest: $50, purchased online and delivered at the gate
- JetBlue: $50, purchase at gate
- Delta: $50, purchase at gate or through mail
- United: $75 ($50 visa + $25 processing fee), purchase at gate.
- American: $85 ($50 visa + $35 processing fee), purchase online and sent via mail. AA will send instructions.
- Frontier: $110 ($50 visa + $35 processing fee + $25 mailing fee), purchase online and sent via mail. Frontier will send instructions.
If you are taking a charter flight from the US or you’re traveling on an organized tour, the Cuban Tourist Card should be included in your package. Double check to be sure that this is the case and if it isn’t, make sure to get one. Again, if you still have questions, feel free to ask a local travel expert.
If you’re traveling from Canada, all you have to do to get your Cuban Tourist Card is book your flight. The airline will provide the card to you on the flight. Plus, you don’t need to pay anything additional, it’s already included in your flight cost.
If you’re flying from Mexico to Cuba then you can buy the Cuban Tourist Card in Cancun or Mexico City. You can do this near check-in or at the boarding gate for $20 USD.
From Panama City
If you’re flying Copa Airlines, you’ll be able to purchase the card at check-in, even if you’re flying from another city like Lima or San Jose to Panama City and then to Cuba. If you cannot purchase the Cuban Tourist Card at check-in, you’ll be able to buy it at the boarding gate. Either way, it will cost about $20 USD.
By Cruise Ship
If you're on a cruise with a stop in Cuba, you still need a Cuban Tourist Card. Some cruise lines sell them and some do not. Norwegian Cruise Lines offers Tourist Cards for $75 - make sure to ask about that in advance of your departure on the cruise. Cuba Visa Services sells Tourist Cards to travelers on any cruise line for $85. Allow for a week to get your Tourist Card from Cuba Visa Services or purchase overnight shipping if you're planning at the last minute.
Get A Cuban Tourist Card or Cuban Visa Online
Want your Cuban Tourist Card/Cuban Visa in hand before you head to the airport? Then apply online in advance from a site like CubaVisas.com (non-US flights - green card) or Cuba Visa Services (US flights and cruises - pink card). These sites will walk you through the process and mail visas anywhere in the world.
Finally, planning a trip to Cuba can be super tough. There is not a lot of information out there. I've compiled a list of local experts who will guide you through every step of the process. Seriously check them out now, I have a 100% guarantee it will make your trip unforgettable and WAY easier to plan. Lianet, in particular, is a Cuban journalist who knows all the best spots.