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The Easiest Way to Get a Cuban Visa

ViaHero · Updated October 2, 2018

Do you need a visa to travel to Cuba? What about a Tourist Card? Are they the same thing? Why are some tourist cards pink and other cards green? ViaHero has all the answers. Follow the step-by-step guide below to get the visa you need as an American traveling to Cuba; once you do, free to message us directly with any questions you still have.

Want to make the most out of your trip? Tap into our network of local travel planners—Heroes—who build unique, locally-curated trip plans, designed just for you. Get started.

Step 1: Determine whether you need a Tourist Card (guidelines for Americans)

Americans traveling to Cuba need a Cuban tourist card, which is often referred to as a Cuban visa or a Cuban tourist visa card. The tourist card is valid for 30 days and can be extended for 30 additional days.

Americans traveling for certain business purposes, to attend school, to visit family, and for select other reasons may need to apply for a full visa. The most up-to-date information on these visas is available on the Cuban embassy website.  

Don’t forget! When you receive your tourist card it will either be pink or green depending on the country you are flying from to get to Cuba. If you’re flying from the United States, the card will be pink. If you are flying from any other country, then the tourist card will be green. This has nothing to do with your nationality, just the country you are entering Cuba from. As soon as you have it in hand, fill out your tourist card completely and legibly. Some Cuban authorities are sticklers for detail. Here's how you can get one:

Step 2: Purchase your plane ticket or book your cruise

Proof of entry and departure dates is required to obtain a Cuban Tourist Card. A copy of your plane tickets with dates of arrival in and departure from Cuba is the standard requirement.

If you are traveling to Cuba on a cruise, then you won’t have a plane ticket but your cruise line will be able to advise you on obtaining a Tourist Card after you book the cruise. Your card may even be included in your cruise package.

beach in cuba

Step 3: Purchase a Cuban Tourist Card / Visa

Everyone needs a Cuban Tourist Card (often called a Tourist Visa). This is a Cuban government requirement, and has nothing to do with the 12 Legal Categories of Travel required by the US government. Luckily, it’s very easy to get one. It’s just a card that you purchase and fill out. 

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 can get your Tourist Card shipped to you in 2 days via DHL, anywhere in the world, when you buy it online through Easy Tourist Card. Green cards cost $29 and pink cards cost $99.
  • This method allows you to skip the lines at the airport (especially important if you have a connecting flight to Cuba).

Airlines

Each carrier offers different services to assist travelers in obtaining the necessary tourist visa card for travel to Cuba. In most cases, you will be able to purchase the tourist card at the airport or on the plane, but this may not be the case with all airlines and rules do change. 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 will turn you away.

Here are the guidelines for the airlines that fly to Cuba from the United States. These guidelines are accurate as of October 2018, but please double check with the airline directly to make sure nothing has changed. The prices listed below vary because each airline charges different fees on top of the actual cost of the visa.

  • Southwest: $50. Can be purchased online in advance (with added shipping) or at the airport upon departure.
  • Delta: $50. Purchase at the gate or order it by mail in advance (with added shipping).
  • JetBlue: $50. Purchase at your final airport before flying to Cuba.
  • United: $75. Purchase at the gate in Newark or Houston.
  • American: $85. Can be purchased online or at the airport in Charlotte or Miami the day of your departure.

Cruises

If you’re going on a cruise, you may be able to purchase your tourist visa through the cruise line. Here are the guidelines for some cruise lines that offer shore excursions in Cuba.

  • Norwegian Cruise Lines: $75. Call Norwegian to order it in advance.
  • Carnival: $75. The fee can be added to your onboard bill. 
  • Royal Caribbean: $75. This fee will be added to your onboard account the first day of the cruise.

Cuban Embassy

You can always purchase your Tourist Card by visiting your local Cuban Embassy in person; prices vary by location/consulate.

streets in cuba

Step 5: Keep your Cuban visa with your passport at all times

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 Cuban bureaucracy instead of enjoying a day exploring and experiencing the best of Cuba. It’s just plain no fun, so don’t lose it.

Looking for recommendations on what to do with your time in Cuba? Ask one of our Cuban travel planners

Other logistics you will need to be aware of for travel to Cuba:

  • Travel Category - Americans need to choose a self-reporting travel category that aligns with planned activities for the trip. Learn all of the different ways Americans can travel to Cuba that aren’t tourism, but are still great ways to travel.
  • Itinerary - An itinerary serves as proof that travelers comply with the guidelines of their self-reporting travel category.  
  • Health Insurance - American health insurance is not accepted in Cuba. You are required to have non-American health insurance before entering Cuba. If you do not purchase it in advance, you will be able to do so at the airport when you land, before you pass customs.

Still have questions about how to get a Cuban visa or tourist card? Our local Cuban travel planners are here to help. Message us to get started. And before your trip, make sure to check out:

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