How is travel to Cuba legal?
We lead Support for the Cuban People tours and Professional Research and Meetings trips. We are OFAC-certified to lead such trips and we are 100% in compliance with the current laws set in place by the United States Goverment pertaining specifically to travel to Cuba. We provide a full schedule of activities as well as an agent of our organization to accompany you on the trip.
What documents do I need to travel to Cuba? What documents will CAFS provide?
Passport and Visa
You must have a valid passport, valid for at least 6 months after your trip. You are also required to have a Cuban Tourist Card or visa. This card is provided by the Cuban American Friendship Society. Once you arrive in Cuba, your passport will no longer be required and you should keep it in the security box in your hotel room.
In order to satisfy regulations in both Cuba and the United States, you will need to carry the following documentation. All of these documents will be given to you by the Cuban American Friendship Society:
- Cuban Visa/Tourist Card
- Letter of Authorization from The Cuban American Friendship Society
It is also recommended that you bring at least 3 copies of your passport, one to give to the team member traveling with you to Cuba, one to keep in your luggage and one to keep on you for identification purposes while you are without your actual passport.
Do I need any immunizations to travel to Cuba?
No, no immunizations are required to travel to Cuba.
What if I get injured or sick while in Cuba?
As of May 2010, the Cuban goverment requires that travelers have insurance coverage for medical emergencies. The cost of your plane ticket includes the insurance that covers travelers while in Cuba. This insurance covers medical expenses for sudden illness and accidents up to the amount of 25,000 CUC.
In addition, some hotels have 24-hour doctors as well as traveling doctors available at a small costs for emergencies.
Will my credit/debit cards work in Cuba?
Your credit and debit cards will not work. You should bring plenty of cash with you.
Will my cellphone work in Cuba?
Depending on what cellular provider you have, you may be able to use your phone. Once you land in Cuba, your phone will switch to the local Cubacell network and fees from your individual carrier will apply. If you do not have one of these providers, your phone won't work on the Cubacell network. If you have one of these networks but don't wish to pay these rates to send and receive texts, it is recommended to place your phone into airplane mode to avoid this.
Verizon: Roaming rates are $3 per minute for voice calls and $2 per MB for data. Verizon customers traveling to Cuba first have to subscribe to the "Pay-As-You-Go International Travel Option" and must have an unlocked phone designated as a "world device" that is capable of receiving signals on the Cubacell network.
Sprint: Voice calls when roaming are $2.49 per minute. Data is $1.99 per MB, and SMS text messaging is .50¢ to send and free to receive.
T-Mobile: Voice calls are $2.00 a minute, SMS and MMS .50¢ per message and receive them for free, and use data for $2.00 per MB.
AT&T: While roaming, voicecalls are $3 per minute. SMS are .50¢ and MMS are $1.30. Data is $2.05 per MB.
The team member from our organization who travels to Cuba with you will have a phone that you can use in emergencies. Otherwise, internet is the cheapest and easiest way to communicate with friends and family back home.
Please feel free to contact us if you have more specific questions regarding phone usage in Cuba.
Will my wifi or cellular data work?
International roaming and cellular data rates apply and are explained more in depth in Question #8.
Wifi is fairly easy to access while in Cuba and can be used on both your cellphone and laptop. Wifi can be found at most hotels and at "internet parks" in Havana. You will have to purchase an ETECSA internet card to be able to access the internet anywhere in Cuba. You can purchase cards for 1, 2, or 5 hours worth of internet. The cost of the 1 hour cards range from 2-5 CUC depending on where you purchase it. Locations to purchase it can be highlighted by the team member who comes with you on your specific trip.
Be advised that the internet speeds in Cuba are slower than you may be used to. Because of this it is recommended that you pre-write any correspondence you need to send in a note or similar application on your phone during downtime while you are not connected to the internet. Then once you log on, you can copy and paste your message into your email. This will preserve your minutes.
What should I bring with me?
Temperatures will be about 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months and 90+ degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. It will be somewhere in the middle in Fall and Spring. The temperatures at night may reach a low of 55 degrees.
We recommend that travelers bring the following items on your trip. You may bring more or less but just remember that due to the US Embargo affecting Cuba over the last several decades, you may experience difficulties in getting items and brands that you are accustomed to at home. Therefore, if it is important or vital (such as prescription meds or important toiletries), bring it with you to Cuba.
Sufficient cash (see question #7)
At least 3 copies of your passport (see question #2)
1 week supply of socks/underwear
2-3 shirts/blouses (short and long sleeved)
Sandals and sneakers
If you wear contacts or glasses take at least one extra pair as well as supplies.
Pepto Bismol/stomach upset medicine
Any medications you may need in their original containers along with copies of their prescriptions.
Epipen (if you have allergies and use this device)
Anything else you deem essential or may need in an emergency
Camera or video camera
here for a printable PDF of this packing list!
Is it ok to talk about the government and politics with Cuban people?
The short answer is yes. Although please do so with caution and don't do so in large crowds. Do not put your tour guide or the person you are talking to in an awkward position by asking something that would in effect "set them up" to outright speak negatively about the government.
If you have further questions about the appropriateness of this, feel free to ask the member of our organization who is traveling with you.
How much money should I bring with me?
We recommend bringing about $100 USD per person per day for extra meals, drinks, incidentals at the hotel, taxis, souvenirs, additional activities, etc.
This number is a minimum. Although you may not spend that amount daily, you will not be able to use credit or debit cards to get more money if you run out while in Cuba. It is better to be safe than sorry in this case, which is why we recommend being prepared with plenty of cash.
You will be provided with a security box in your hotel room to keep your valuables in unless otherwise specified ahead of time.
Can I use $USD in Cuba? What is the conversion rate?
You can not use USD in Cuba.
The conversion rate, including Cuban fees, is $1.00 USD to $0.87 CUC. If you exchange $100 USD you will receive $87 CUC.
Because the tax on USD has been repealed, we do not recommend converting your USD to Euros or Canadian dollars first as this will just cost you money throughout multiple exchanges.
We do not recommend exchanging all your money at once, as it will cost money to change it back to USD at the airport and depending on the day, there might not be enough to exchange it all back.
Is there any literature that you recommend reading before my trip?
We recommend the Lonely Planet’s Guide to Cuba.
We strongly urge you to pick up a book called
Culture Shock! Cuba: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette by Marc Cramer. It is a great guide which will help familiarize you with the development of Cuba and its unique culture and people as well as its recent history. The book does very well in explaining the impact of the US Embargo and how it has affected the Cuban people and society in good ways and bad.
If you are more interested in the history of Cuba, dating back to the discovery of Cuba, we recommend the book
CUBA: What Everyone Needs to Know by Julia E. Sweig.
A great online magazine to check out is
Cuba Absolutely. This online resource has excellent up-to-date information about happenings in today's Cuba, arts, music and cultural events.
Why might I want to travel with the Cuban American Friendship Society?
The Cuban American Friendship Society (CAFS) has over twenty years experience in designing,coordinating, and leading trips to Cuba and has forged long-lasting relationships with people and organizations in Cuba.
CAFS is a nonprofit organized around the mission of building bridges between people in the U.S. and Cuba. We lead Support for the Cuban People trips and Professional Research and Meetings tours that foster exchanges between U.S. travelers and Cubans. We are OFAC-certified to lead such trips and we are 100% in compliance with the current laws set in place by the United States Government pertaining specifically to travel to Cuba. Unlike some Cuba tours, our trips are insured. And we provide a full schedule of activities as well as an agent of our organization to accompany you on the trip.