Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Cuba International Travel Information
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/ exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Cuba.
Travel to Cuba is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Anyone located in the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with these regulations. Individuals seeking to travel to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered by a general license. If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license. Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution. For travel-specific questions, please see 31 C.F.R. 515.560 and OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.
Visit the Embassy of Cuba website for the most current visa information. Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which is usually included in airline ticket prices on flights originating in the United States or can be purchased at the airport upon arrival to Cuba.
Cuba does not recognize the U.S. nationality of Cuban-born U.S. citizens. The Cuban government requires Cuban dual nationals to enter and depart Cuba using Cuban passports. Cuban-born U.S. citizens will be treated as Cuban citizens and may be subject to restrictions and obligations.
Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Cuba. Foreign students on scholarships are required to test for HIV/AIDS. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Cuba before you travel.
Cuban Requirements for Authorized Travelers: Attempts to enter or exit Cuba illegally, or to aid the irregular exit of Cuban nationals or other persons, are prohibited. Entering Cuban territory, territorial waters, or airspace without prior authorization from the Cuban government may result in arrest. Immigration violators are subject to prison terms ranging from four to thirty years.
Temporary Sojourn License: Most aircraft and maritime vessels on temporary sojourn to Cuba are no longer eligible for an Aircraft, Vessels, and Spacecraft (AVS) License Exception. See 15 C.F.R. § 740.15. If you are planning to enter Cuba with a U.S. or foreign-registered aircraft or maritime vessel on temporary sojourn, you must meet the criteria set forth in 15 C.F.R. § 740.15. Please see the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security website for additional information.
In addition, a vessel of the United States, as defined in 33 C.F.R. §107.200, may not enter Cuban territorial waters without advance permission from the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard provides permission information at (305) 415-6920.
The security environment in Cuba is relatively stable and characterized by a strong military and police presence. Demonstrations are infrequent but can be violent. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational without warning. Avoid demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Demonstration Alerts are posted on the Embassy’s website. Review the Cuba Travel Advisory.
The Cuban government has detained U.S. citizens who are suspected of engaging in activities perceived to undermine state security. The Cuban government may detain individuals for activities that would not be considered criminal or offensive in the United States.
Crime: With the recent influx of travelers, there has been an increase in the number of property crimes, as well as violent crimes. Crimes of opportunity, such as purse snatchings and car break-ins, are on the rise. There have also been recent reports of drugged sexual assault and armed robberies.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at 106 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +53 7839-4100. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Cuban penalties for the following are particularly strong:
The Government of Cuba does not recognize the U.S. nationality of Cuban-born U.S. citizens and may not allow U.S. consular access to Cuban-American prisoners.
Telecommunications: Many U.S. mobile service carriers provide roaming services in Cuba, and Wi-Fi is often slow and spotty. SIM cards with a data plan cannot be purchased at airports. You may need to go to an ETECSA (Cuban Telecommunications Company) office to obtain one. To ensure family and friends can reach you in Cuba, check with your mobile provider about roaming options and cost. You can also purchase a Wi-Fi card from ETECSA offices and kiosks or from major hotels for access at designated Wi-Fi spots. The card will not enable you to make calls. If you plan to spend more than a couple of days in Cuba, you may enter into a temporary local telecommunications contract with ETECSA. See the FCC Travel FAQs for more information.
Cuba-related Travel Transactions: Only persons whose travel falls into the categories mentioned above (under “Entry Requirements/Travel Transaction Limitations”) are authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to spend money related to travel to, from, or within Cuba. Direct financial transactions with certain entities and sub-entities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services are also generally prohibited. For more information see the Department of State’s Cuba Restricted List. For more information about licenses, visit OFAC’s Cuba Sanctions website.
Licenses for Remittances: For information on remittance authorizations, see OFAC’s Cuba Sanctions website.
What May Be Brought Back From Cuba: Importation of Cuban merchandise for commercial purposes is restricted, with very limited exceptions. Certain imports of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs are authorized, as set forth on the Department of State’s Section 515.582 List (see 31 C.F.R 515.582). There are no limits on the import or export of informational materials. For more information related to imports, including merchandise entering the United States for personal use as accompanied baggage, please see the CBP Public Notice.
Cuban law requires foreigners obtain authorization to take souvenir paintings and sculptures out of Cuba. Most authorized points of sale, such as galleries and art studios, should be familiar with this process and should provide the proper documentation at the time of purchase. You can also apply for an export permit via the Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets. Travelers without a valid export permit may have their items confiscated at the port of departure. The U.S. Embassy cannot assist in these cases. For more information, please see the Cuban Customs Authority website.
Storm Season: Tropical storms between May and November can produce heavy winds and rain. See our hurricane season page for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Cuba, but same-sex marriage is not legally recognized.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. Individuals with mobility issues are likely to find accessibility difficult. Few facilities or services are available, and information is limited. Most roads and sidewalks are poorly maintained.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Currency Restrictions: Effective June 21, 2021, the Cuban Central Bank prohibits certain U.S. dollar cash transactions, including conversion of U.S. dollars to Cuban pesos, the use of U.S. dollars for cash payments, including in government-run tourist establishments such as hotels and restaurants, and the purchase of pre-paid tourist debit cards. U.S. travelers are advised that policies concerning the use and convertibility of U.S. dollars are subject to change. U.S.-issued credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Cuba.
For emergency services in Cuba, dial:
Ambulance services are
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which is usually included in airline ticket prices on flights originating in the United States. Ensure you have the necessary insurance coverage prior to arrival and keep your boarding pass. You will need it to obtain medical care.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the General Customs Office of Cuba to ensure the medication is legal in Cuba. Note: This site is in Spanish only.
Diarrheal illness is common among travelers, even in luxury accommodations. Travelers should wash their hands, drink bottled water, and avoid street and undercooked food.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific medical issues in Cuba.
Vaccinations: Be up to date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals here. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Pharmaceuticals: Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
Water Quality: In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.
General Health Issues
Air Quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in Cuba. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary. Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
Road Conditions and Safety: Road accidents, many involving pedestrians and bicyclists, are Cuba’s leading cause of death. Cuban authorities may prohibit drivers from leaving the country until claims associated with an accident are settled. Drivers found responsible for accidents resulting in serious injury or death may receive long prison sentences. U.S. citizen drivers are often found at fault for accidents they are involved in.
Drive with extreme care. Major streets are generally well-maintained, but secondary streets are not. Avoid driving at night as many roads are unlit. Emergency lights or signals are rare, making it virtually impossible to detect hazards after dark. Street signage is insufficient and confusing. Many Cuban cars are old, in poor condition, and lack reliable safety equipment.
The principal Cuban east-west highway is in good condition but extends only part of the way from Havana to the eastern end of the island. Hazards – including unfenced livestock and farm vehicles – are common.
Traffic Laws: Speed limits are sometimes posted and passengers in automobiles are required to wear seatbelts, if available. All motorcyclists are required to wear helmets. Traffic from major roads generally does not stop when entering roundabouts. Use care at intersections: stop signs are often hard to see.
Public Transportation: Speed limits are sometimes posted and passengers in automobiles are required to wear seatbelts, if available. All motorcyclists are required to wear helmets. Traffic from major roads generally does not stop when entering roundabouts. Use care at intersections: stop signs are often hard to see.
Buses designated for tourist travel, both between and within cities, generally meet international standards. Public buses used by Cubans, known as "guaguas," are crowded, unreliable, and are sometimes used by petty criminals.
Rental car agencies provide roadside assistance to their clients as a condition of rental contracts. Travelers should not permit unauthorized persons to drive their rental vehicles.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Cuba, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Cuba’s Civil Aviation Authority under its International Aviation Safety Assessment program (IASA) for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. The U.S. Embassy in Havana prohibits U.S. government personnel from using any commercial airline for domestic flights within Cuba due to safety concerns. The Embassy does not authorize government personnel to travel via Cubana Airlines.
Further information may be found on the FAA’s IASA website.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Cuba should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.