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Cuba’s appeal lies in its retro charm, from its old-fashioned cars to its colonial-style buildings. Unfortunately, travel to this Caribbean island has been closed to Americans since 1961 as the result of poor government relations.

Is it any wonder that millions of Americans have flocked to Cuba since it reopened to U.S. tourism in 2014? Now that travel to Cuba is a possibility, it’s a luxury that we hope will remain!

But the process to gain access to Cuba, which doesn’t offer tourist visas, is not particularly straightforward. Read on to learn how you can obtain a Cuban visa.

cuban visa
Photo by Pedro Szekely

Can Americans travel to Cuba?

American citizens can visit Cuba for one of a dozen reasons, none of which are tourism. That means that your only chance to get to see this Caribbean island is by selecting an alternate reason for your visit.

You will be required to specify your reason for visiting when you apply for your visa.

Most Americans traveling to Cuba select either “Support for the Cuban People” or “People-to-People Exchanges” as their reason, and enter the country with no problem.

Cuban Visa
Photo by Pedro Szekely

How to get a Cuban Visa

Despite the seemingly bureaucratic process, obtaining a visa to Cuba –also known as a tourist card–is actually quite easy.

You have the option to obtain your visa in advance, although it costs the same $50 USD if you decide to purchase it at airport check-in (less if you’re traveling from another country). Your visa will be valid for a single entry and up to 30 days.

As long as you select a valid reason for visiting the country, you should be good to go.

International relations between the US and Cuba are constantly improving, so it’s rare that you’ll be interrogated for your reasons to visit.

Cuba Visa

Arriving in Cuba

While you won’t get too many questions about your visa, immigration will require you to have 3 things before entering the country:

1- a return flight

2- travel insurance (you may be able to buy this through your airlines)

3- booked accommodations.

Make sure that you’re prepared with each of these.

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