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How to Get a Cuban Visa: A 4-Step Guide for Americans

Updated October 8, 2023

Cuba is open to U.S. travelers, and if you plan to visit, you’ll be required to get a Cuban Tourist Card or Tourist Visa. You probably have many questions: Does it matter if I fly directly from the US to Cuba? Which color visa is the correct one, the pink or the green? 

This article covers everything you need to know about the Cuba Tourist Visa, including how to get the right type of visa depending on your airline and where your flight is coming from before landing in Cuba. 

As an American traveling to Cuba, you have questions. So why not get answers from locals in Cuba to make things easier? Our trip planners are real locals who can help you understand the rules—and plan your itinerary so you have a unique experience and explore their country like the locals do. Learn more

Do You Need a Cuba Tourist Card?

Cuba requires almost everyone who travels there to get a “Tarjeta del Turista,” or Cuban Tourist Card (sometimes referred to as a visa). This card gives a traveler permission to visit Cuba for up to 30 days and can be extended once for another 30 days.

The only exceptions are for citizens of 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. Travelers from these countries can visit Cuba without a Tourist Visa. 

The Cuba Tourist Card requirement is not part of the U.S. travel regulations for Cuba. The Tourist Visa is a separate document required by the Cuban government.

Still have questions? Keep reading or get in touch with a local expert in Cuba

Pink or Green Cuba Tourist Visa: Which Should You Get?

There are two types of Cuban Tourist Cards: pink and green. Which one you need depends on which country you’re traveling from. 

If you’re flying to Cuba from the US, you'll need to get the pink Tourist Card. 

If your flight originates anywhere besides the US, or makes a stop outside the US before arrival, you'll need to purchase the green card. 

The Tourist Card is absolutely essential—no matter where you take off, you’ll need the card to board the plane to Cuba

The color has nothing to do with your nationality, just the country you are entering Cuba from.  

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How Much Does the Cuba Tourist Visa Cost?

Depending on where you get it, the cost of a Cuba Tourist Card varies between $25 USD and $100USD. The green cards are typically less expensive than the pink cards. Once you account for shipping costs, acquiring the card through your airline will usually be less expensive, but many people prefer to pay for shipping to get the benefit of having the card in hand ahead of time.

Tip: Travel to Cuba is very affordable. Don’t spend time worrying about the cost of the Tourist Card. 

streets in cuba

How to Get a Cuba Tourist Card?

You can get a Cuba Tourist Card online, from your airline, or from a travel agency. You can also try to contact your nearest Cuban embassy or consulate, but they are notoriously slow to respond.

Here are the best ways to purchase a Cuban Tourist Card:

1. Buy it Online

You can buy your Tourist Card online, in advance of your trip. This is the easiest and safest option if you don't want to wait until the very last moment to secure your necessary travel documents. You should do this at least a month prior to your trip.

If you're traveling from the US to Cuba (regardless of citizenship), you can use Online Tourist Card to get the best rate on your pink Cuban Tourist Card. 

Online Tourist Card ships within the US via UPS. There are many shipping options to choose from.

If traveling from anywhere else in the world to Cuba, you can use Easy Tourist Card to buy your green Cuban Tourist Card. 

Easy Tourist Card ships worldwide via DHL. There is only one shipping option.

Purchasing the Tourist Card online ahead of time allows you to skip the lines at the airport (especially important if you have a connecting flight to Cuba).

2. Buy it From Your Airline

Some airlines assist travelers with the purchase of the Tourist Visa for travel to Cuba. In some cases, you can purchase the Tourist Card at the airport, but this may not be true in all cases.

It is essential that you check with your airline to confirm their policy. You don’t want to arrive at the airport without a Tourist Card if the airline doesn’t provide it because they may not let you board the plane.

Here are the guidelines for the airlines that fly to Cuba from the United States. These guidelines are accurate as of October 2023, but are subject to change. The prices listed below vary because each airline charges different fees on top of the actual cost of the visa.

  • Delta: $100 ($50 + $50 processing fee), purchase at the gate before boarding. 

  • United: $85 ($50 visa + $35 processing fee), purchase at the gate in Houston or New York/Newark. 

  • American: $100 ($50 visa + $50 processing fee), available at the Miami airport.

Tip: Processing fees are often lower for Tourist Cards purchased online through sites like Online Tourist Card. Plus you get the peace of mind of having your visa in hand well before your departure date. 

3. Get it from a travel agency

If you hire a travel agency to organize your trip or join a tour group run by a travel company, they will sometimes include the Tourist Card in their pricing, but make sure that they are a reliable company and ask if the card is included before your trip. Most travel agencies will bundle the Cuba Tourist Card into their existing Cuba travel packages.

4. Buy it From Your Country’s Cuban Embassy or Consulate

Your nearest Cuban Embassy may sell Tourist Cards. The price will vary by location and consulate, and many travelers complain about response time and service when inquiring about Tourist Cards. Because of this, we recommend getting the tourist card via one of the options listed above. 

What kind of traveler are you?
Let’s face it. People want different things when they travel. Rather than spending hours sifting through blogs and top 10 lists written by people who may have totally different interests than you, why not start by sharing a little about what’s important to you when exploring a new destination?
Select your travel preferences below and let a local travel planner with ViaHero take it from there. Your personalized Cuba recommendations, itinerary, and maps are just a few clicks away.

Cuba Tourist Card vs. Regular Visa

Americans traveling for certain business purposes, to attend school, to visit family, and for select other reasons may need to apply for a full Cuba visa because their activities will not be covered by the Cuba Tourist Visa. The most up-to-date information on these visas is available on the Cuban embassy website.

What Happens if I Lose My Cuba Tourist Card?

If you lose your Tourist Card, you must replace it before you will be allowed to depart Cuba. You’ll have to spend a day dealing with Cuba’s bureaucracy instead of enjoying a day exploring and experiencing Cuba's awesome things to do. To avoid a huge hassle, keep your Tourist Card tucked into your U.S. passport. Also, be sure to carry your passport with you at all times, a Cuba travel safety best practice.

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Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal
Sierra, recent ViaHero traveler to Portugal

As an American Visiting Cuba, Do You Need Anything Else Besides a Tourist Visa?

Yes, as an American, you should make sure that when planning a trip to Cuba, you have all of the necessary documents. Here’s what you will need to do:

  • Pick Your Travel Category - You’ll need to choose a travel category that fits with your planned activities for the trip. Learn about the different categories Americans can use for their travel to Cuba.

  • Make an Itinerary - Your itinerary serves as proof upon return that you’ve complied with the guidelines of the travel category you chose. (Our Heroes can create a custom itinerary based on your interests that meets the Cuba travel requirements. 

  • Health Insurance - You are required to purchase Cuban health insurance before entering Cuba, but if you're flying from the U.S., check with your airline to see if the insurance is included in your ticket purchase. If not, you can purchase it beforehand or at the airport when you land, before passing customs.

  • Health Declaration Form - This form is required to monitor and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Locals Make Planning a Trip to Cuba Easy

Planning a trip to Cuba can be complicated. There's not a lot of information out there! That's why ViaHero offers local Cuban trip planners to help guide you through every step of the process. 

Seriously, check them out—we guarantee that working with a local to plan your trip will make it absolutely unforgettable and way easier to navigate. 

Still have questions about travel to Cuba?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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