Cuba Entry Requirements

Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited by statute.  There are, however, 12 categories of authorized travel.  The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses in all 12 categories of authorized travel, subject to appropriate conditions.  This means that individuals who meet the regulatory conditions of the respective general license they seek to travel under do not need to apply for a specific license from OFAC to travel to Cuba. 

The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

For specific information on the Cuba sanctions regulations, including fact sheets on recent changes regarding Cuba, applying for an OFAC license online, and more guidance regarding travel to Cuba please visit this Department of Treasury webpage.  For travel-specific questions, please see 31 C.F.R. 515.560, as well as OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Traveling to Cuba? 5 things you should know.

Please note that neither the U.S. Embassy in Havana nor the U.S. Department of State in Washington DC processes Cuban visa applications.  To apply for a Cuban visa or for any questions regarding Cuban consular services, please contact the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC:

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba     
2630 16th street NW
Washington, DC 20009
E-mail[email protected]
Phone: 202 797 8518 – Ext. 600 

Registering with Embassies

The U.S. Embassy in Havana recommends that all U.S. citizens in Cuba register with the American Citizens Services Unit.  Travelers can register their visit in person or on-line by visiting the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) website.

Important message on U.S. debit and credit cards

U.S. Credit and Debit cards do not currently work in Cuba, so remember to bring enough cash with you to last you your whole trip. U.S. Dollars can be exchanged into Cuban convertible currency at the airport, hotels, or exchange houses. There is usually a 10% charge on exchanging U.S. dollars. 


CLIMATE: Cuba’s climate is Caribbean tropical.  November to April is the dry season and May to October is the wet season.  Winter water temperatures are around 78 F with summer temperatures around 82 F.

LANGUAGE:  Cuba’s official language is Spanish.

ELECTRICITY: Although the power supply in Cuba is mainly 110 volts, most of the modern hotels have dual voltage with all the sockets in the room being 220 volts.

CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS:  Cuban currency is not traded internationally, so you can’t buy it in advance. There are 2 currencies in use in Cuba – The CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) which is basically the only currency the average tourist will use  and the CUP (Cuban Peso) which is basically the locals currency.  VISA is the most widely accepted credit card. Due to embargo laws, no credit card issued by a US bank or subsidiary is accepted in Cuba.

GRATUITIES:  Gratuities in hard currency (CUC) are appreciated by all levels of tourism personnel in Cuba.  A standard of 10% currently seems to be the norm.

PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE:  The Internet in Cuba is among the most tightly controlled in the world.  It is characterized by a low number of connections, limited bandwidth, censorship, and high cost. If you wish to make a phone call the best option is to purchase a pre-paid phonecard (usually available on resort) and use the public card phone.  Calls from the Hotel phones are much more expensive than the public card phones. Most Mobiles work in Cuba, it does not depend on the ‘band’ of your phone but on your network provider, it is best to phone your service provider and check whether your particular phone will work in Cuba.  You can access your providers website to get the current charges for calls and texts for Cuba and also check if they have good roaming in the area you will be visiting .

VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS:  Travel from the United States to Cuba purely for the purpose of scuba diving is still unlikely.  Even though travel restrictions have softened somewhat, diving is not a part of approved “cultural tours” that are permitted.  Most of the rest of the world does not have the same travel restrictions.  A passport is required and usually either a visa or a “tourist card” must be obtained, as well.

CUSTOMS:  Cuba’s limits on imports for visitors are typical of other nations in the Caribbean.

DEPARTURE TAX:  A departure tax of 25 CUC (equivalent to US$ 25) is charged to each person who departs from Cuba.


Cuba Tourism Information


All content provided on the “Scuba Diving Resource”  website is for informational purposes only. Any comments, opinions that may be found here at Scuba Diving Resource are the express opinions and or the property of their individual authors.
Scuba Diving Resource makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. Please note that regulations and information can change at any time.

May 29, 2016 |

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