Cuban Tourist Card vs Cuban Visa
The majority of nationalities will need to obtain a Tourist Card rather than an ordinary Visa for traveling to Cuba. The only exceptions are a few countries in Africa, in Middle East and in Asia that still need the Cuban Visa. For more info, please check here.
For obtaining the Cuban Tourist Card you must first book your air-ticket. The country from which you will enter Cuba will determine the type (color) of your Tourist Card. If you are transiting through another country, then it’s the country from which you will board for your final flight.
Cuban Tourist Cards come in two different colors. You will need the Pink Card if you fly to Cuba from the US, or the Green Card if you fly to Cuba from any other country outside the US. The Pink Card is more expensive than the Green Card for obvious reasons (it is meant to be used by US citizens).
As mentioned previously, the color of the Cuban Tourist Card determines the country of entry and not the nationality of the card holder. That being said, if a US citizen decides to fly to Cuba through another country (for example Mexico) he will need the Green Card.
If you get the wrong card you will not be allowed to enter Cuba. Even if you have paid for the more expensive Tourist Card out of the two. Special attention needed for this.
Practical Tip: Avoid flying through US!
© Photo by Thaleia Ioannou
How you can get your Cuban Tourist Card
Through a Cuban Embassy
You can purchase your Tourist Card directly from the Cuban Embassy located in the country of your residence. Of course, under the condition that there is an embassy in your country and that it also serves this process. Costs vary by country and embassy.
Unfortunately, the Cuban Embassy in Greece does not provide such Tourist Cards.
Through an Online Vendor
Your alternative to buying your Tourist Card is via an online vendor. Following an extensive research, the most reliable international vendor I have come across was the Easy Tourist Card. However, it worth mentioning that buying your Cuban Tourist Card online is the priciest option out of them all. Consider this alternative only in case of great need.
- Cost of the Pink Tourist Card: 89€/103USD (Plus Shipping: 20€, VAT: 22,89€)
- Cost of the Green Tourist Card: 35€/40USD (Plus Shipping: 20€, VAT: 11,55€)
Through a local Travel Agency
Reach out a local travel agency in the country / city of your residence and ask them to purchase the Cuban Tourist Card on your behalf. Of course, this will come at an extra cost, but by no means as expensive as the online purchase.
Through your Airline
Some airlines can facilitate the purchase of your Cuban Tourist Card either online, at the airport, or directly on the plane. After booking your ticket, contact your carrier to confirm their policy. Under no circumstances should you risk going to the airport without a Travel Card in hand. Unless, of course, your airline has previously confirmed that they will be providing you with it. In this case, the cost again varies depending on the airline you will be flying with.
- If you are flying with Air Canada through Canada, the cost of your Green Travel Card is included in the cost of your air-ticket. Always ask a confirmation from your carrier beforehand, as there might have been a change in the airline’s policy.
- If you are flying through Mexico, and in particular from the airports of Cancun or Mexico City, you will be able to obtain your Green Tourist Card at the airport counter or at the departure gate at the fee of 20 USD.
- If you are flying with Copa Airlines through Panama, you will be able to obtain your Green Tourist Card at the airport counter or at the departure gate at the fee of 20 USD.
© Photo by Thaleia Ioannou
For purchasing your Cuban Tourist Card you will need:
- Passport (valid for at least 6 months)
- Air-Ticket Reservation (you will need to provide entry / exit dates, name of airline, etc.)
The Cuban Tourist Cards have 30 days validity for all nationalities. The only exception are the Canadian citizens whose Tourist Card comes with a validity of 90 days (!!!). If needed, you can renew your Tourist Cards for the same number of days but only once. Renewal comes at an additional charge.
Important: Keep your Tourist Card in a safe place throughout your trip. Remember that you will not be able to leave the country without it. In the event of its loss, you will of course be able to issue a new one. However, the process is said to be extremely bureaucratic and time consuming!
Travel Insurance: You don’t need a Travel Insurance for purchasing your Cuban Tourist Card. It is yet mandatory for entering the country.