There are a few things which require taken care of before arrival in Cuba.
Visa – For tourists to Cuba, the equivalent of a Visa is called a Tourist Card (Spanish: Tarjeta del Turista). You must buy this before you fly – you won’t be allowed to board the plane without it. (Exception: Some Canadian airlines issue the tourist card either at check-in or onboard, as part of the ticket cost.) These can be obtained from Cuban Pioneers – please contact us for details. Some airlines (e.g. Virgin) sell them at check-in for an inflated price. Some don’t (KLM) and then you’re stuffed, so better and cheaper to obtain ahead of time.
Vaccinations – The website http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/caribbean/cuba.aspx has useful and up-to date information aimed at UK people.
Flights – you must have a ticket back out of Cuba booked before you arrive. You should bring a printout of the confirmation – sometimes Cuban immigration want to see this.
Passport – your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the date you arrive in Cuba. Please email a copy/scan to the Cuban Pioneers office at firstname.lastname@example.org at least one week before you arrive. You should carry your passport (or a photocopy) as ID at all times in Cuba.
Travel insurance – you must have traveller’s medical insurance which covers Cuba, for the time that you will be there. Please email a copy/scan to the Cuban Pioneers office at email@example.com at least one week before you arrive. You should also bring a printout of this as sometimes immigration want to see it.
We are agents for the Cuban Government’s official travel medical insurance company. Please contact us for details on travel medical insurance for your trip to Cuba.
Arrival – You should keep a note of the address for the homestay in Havana in case immigration ask where you will be staying, and also so you know where to meet us! This will be advised to you by the Cuban Pioneers office before arrival, along with contact phone numbers in case of any problems. Unless you have made specific arrangements to be met at the airport, you should take a taxi to the homestay. All taxis at the airport are official and government-registered but you should agree on the price before getting in. The official price is CUC $25 to anywhere in downtown Havana – don’t agree to pay any more!
Cash – Cash machines in Cuba are now plentiful but may not work for a variety of reasons, therefore you should bring sufficient cash in a major currency to cover trip costs, meals and drinks, tips and any extras. Click for information on Money in Cuba and What is included in your Cuban Pioneers trip.
Tips – YOU HAVE TO TIP EVERYBODY IN CUBA. Their salaries are so low that they are essentially working for free ($12-25 per month), and so they have to live off their tips. You should put aside at least $10 every day for tips. (N.b. however it is not necessary or expected to tip taxi drivers or casa particular (homestay) owners.)
If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Cuban Pioneers office at firstname.lastname@example.org.