Going to Cuba

Tourist cards

New Zealanders require a Tourist card to visit Cuba, which should be obtained prior to entering Cuba. New Zealanders are able to obtain the tourist card through New Zealand travel agencies or by direct application to a Cuban Embassy. The tourist card is valid for a stay of one month in Cuba, and a possible extension for a second period of 30 days is permissible.

Travelling to Cuba from the US

Travel is permitted to Cuba from the US; however travelling for tourism purposes directly from the US to Cuba isn’t allowed under US law. This applies to US nationals and all foreign nationals who are either resident in the US, or travelling through the US en route to Cuba on any airline.

Everybody travelling to Cuba from the US (both US citizens and foreign nationals) will need to comply with US law and travel for one of the 12 authorised categories of travel. Tourism isn’t one of these 12 categories. For more information see the US Department of the Treasury website (external link) (external link) and the US State Department’s travel advice for Cuba (external link) (external link).

Those travelling via other countries excluding the US, such as Canada or Mexico, are unaffected by this US legislation.

Accommodation

Tourists are usually guided towards staying at hotels in Cuba, but it is possible to stay with a family under certain circumstances. For further information on staying with a family, please see your travel agent or visit a Cuban Embassy (external link) (external link).

Currency in Cuba

Cuba operates a dual currency system. Visitors use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), as opposed to the Cuban Peso (CUP) used by locals. You should check with your bank before you travel to confirm that your debit/credit/ATM cards will work and will be accepted in Cuba. If your bank cannot confirm this then you should bring suitable Euro alternatives. You should also note that we have heard reports of banks offering incorrect advice.  You should also be aware that there are very few ATMs available for drawing cash against debit cards in Cuba. You should be aware that New Zealand bank notes/coins cannot be exchanged in Cuba.

US dollars are no longer accepted as payment in Cuba, and you will be charged 10% commission to exchange them. Credit card transactions, including withdrawals from ATMs, are subject to local commission charges of between 11% and 13%. America Express travellers' cheques are not accepted in Cuba. Travellers' cheques and/or credit cards drawn on all other American banks are also not accepted in Cuba.

You are advised not to change money anywhere other than at the airport Cadecas, hotel exchange bureaux or banks, due to the prevalence of forged currency. Individuals offering exchange facilities to avoide queues should be avoided, and where possible small denomination bills should be requested.

Insurance

From 1 May 2010, travellers to Cuba will be required to have valid travel insurance, including medical coverage, in order to enter the country. Travellers can purchase insurance coverage prior to their travel, or on arrival in Cuba at the point of entry. For more information, please check the Cuban Tourism Office website www.asistur.cu (external link) (external link) where an English language option is available.