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How To Get A Cuban Tourist Card or Visa (2021 Update)

ViaHero
Updated November 30, 2020

Americans traveling to Cuba today need three things: a passport, a general license (self-reporting), and a Cuban Tourist Card. 

Here's the latest on how to get a Cuban Tourist Card. The new June 2019 Cuba travel policies for Americans do not affect the Tourist Card. (Remember: The Cuban Tourist Card is a Cuban government requirement, and has nothing to do with the 11 Categories of Legal Travel required by the US government.)

Want to explore Cuba differently? Have a local plan your legal trip.

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. (But just to make things confusing, the Tourist Card is often referred to as a visa.)

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 run from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Houston, and New York to Cuba. 

If you're traveling from the US to Cuba, your card will be pink. If you're flying to Cuba from anywhere except the US, your card will be green. It doesn't matter what country your passport is from or what country you're originally traveling from. Your card color depends on the last place you depart from before arriving in Cuba. You will not be able to board a flight from the US to Cuba with a green Tourist Card, and vice-versa.

You can get your Tourist Card online

Want your Cuban Tourist Card/Cuban Visa in hand before you head to the airport? Then buy online in advance from sites like Cuba Visa Services (the best option for pink cards) or Easy Tourist Card (for green cards). They'll also walk you through the process if you have any questions.

  • Cuba Visa Services ships via FedEx anywhere in the contiguous 48 states, and offers 2 shipping options.
  • Easy Tourist Card ships worldwide via DHL. However, they only offer 1 shipping option and they're more expensive than Cuba Visa Services.
    • That said, if you need a green Tourist Card, you're probably not in the US anyway—so Easy Tourist Card is probably the right choice for you.

Buying your Tourist Card online allows you to skip the lines at the airport (especially important if you have a connecting flight to Cuba).

You can also buy your Tourist Card from your airline

The cost varies depending on the airline you're traveling with. Here's a breakdown of known costs and where to acquire the tourist card for each airline. Double-check with your carrier just to make sure. You won't be allowed to enter Cuba without a Tourist Card).

  • Southwest: $50, purchased online (through Cuba Visa Services) and delivered at the gate
  • JetBlue: $50, purchase at the gate
  • Delta: $50, purchase at the 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.

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.  

From Canada

If you’re traveling from Canada, in general, all you have to do to get your green 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. Remember: this is not always the case, so make sure to contact your airline prior to traveling

From Mexico

 If you’re flying from Mexico to Cuba then you can buy the green 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

Due to the June 2019 Cuba travel restrictions, American cruise ships are no longer allowed to sail to Cuba.

From the Embassy

You can also purchase Cuban Tourist Cards through Cuban Embassies. Prices vary by country and embassy.

Finally, planning a trip to Cuba can be super tough. There's not a lot of information out there! That's why ViaHero employs local Cuban experts to help guide you through every step of the process. Seriously, check them out—we guarantee that having a local plan your trip will make it absolutely unforgettable and WAY easier to navigate. 

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Check out our articles on getting a Cuba General License and how you can still travel to Cuba. Then, start preparing for your Cuba adventure.

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