International Travel and COVID-19

Before travelling:

If you have not completed a COVID-19 vaccine series, you should continue to avoid non-essential travel to all destinations.

Useful links

Cuba Travel Advice

Last updated: ET

Latest updates: Safety and security - Removal of the information on the explosion at the Hotel Saratoga

On this page

Risk level

Cuba - Take normal security precautions

Take normal security precautions in Cuba.

 

Back to top

Safety and security

COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions

COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations.

These could include:

  • curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns
  • mandatory mask use
  • required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces

Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are still in effect.

Foreign Representatives in Canada

Crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs

Theft generally occurs in crowded places such as tourist areas, markets, beaches and isolated areas. Theft from hotel rooms, particularly in private accommodations (casas particulares), occurs. Theft from cars is also common.

Theft of items from checked baggage at Cuban airports also occurs, whereby bags, including locked suitcases, are opened and items are removed.

  • Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • Don’t pack valuables in your checked luggage
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport’s identification page at all times
  • Carry only small amounts of money
  • Avoid showing signs of affluence, such as flashy jewellery and watches
  • Never carry purses and bags loosely over one shoulder
  • Keep electronic devices like cellphones, tablets, laptops and cameras out of sight, as they are particularly attractive to thieves
  • Avoid independent street vendors

Violent crime

Incidents of violent crime are generally associated with assaults committed during a burglary or robbery.

Some hustlers (jineteros) specialize in deceiving and defrauding tourists. Most of them speak some English or French and go out of their way to appear friendly, by offering to serve as tour guides or to facilitate the purchase of cigars. They may resort to violence in their efforts to steal tourists’ money and other valuables.

Fraudulent and pseudo tour agents and taxi drivers also operate throughout the country.

  • If threatened by robbers, stay calm and don’t resist
  • Always use established tour operators and registered taxis

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Some incidents of assault, rape and sexual aggression against Canadian women have occurred, including at beach resorts.

If you are the victim of a sexual assault, you should report it immediately to the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy. We also strongly advise that you file a report with Cuban authorities.

If reporting a crime to the local police, insist on receiving a Comprobante de Denuncia. This document confirms that a report has been filed. Police officers may speak only Spanish.

Safe-travel guide for women

Shortages and service disruptions

Shortages of ‎goods, including fuel, food items and medications, are common across the country.  They have led to reduced transportation services and often long line-ups at grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies.

Service disruptions to power distribution occur regularly. Tour companies and resorts often have generators to maintain service. However, independent travellers may have difficulty obtaining services during an outage.

Telecommunications networks

The telecommunications system in Cuba remains poor, although telephone communication is improving. Connections can still be intermittent or unreliable, but   Canadian cell phones generally work in large cities.

Internet access remains limited. The country has the lowest level of internet connectivity in the Western hemisphere, even with the government’s initiative to set up multiple Wi-Fi hotspots across the island.

Demonstrations

While participating in demonstrations may be illegal in Cuba, they occasionally take place, sometimes without warning. Local authorities may break up political demonstrations or gatherings not sanctioned by the government. They may also block access to Internet, including social media, without notice.

Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic, public transportation and essential services.

  • Don’t participate in demonstrations
  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Road safety

Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country, with the exception of the Central Highway which runs west-to-east across the country. Most secondary roads are dangerous due to the lack of maintenance. They are poorly lit and signage is scarce and confusing. Roaming livestock and pedestrians walking on roads pose further hazards, especially at night.

Most Cuban cars are old, in poor condition, and lack standard safety equipment. Some cars and most bicycles don’t have functioning lights. Inoperable vehicles are often left on the road until repaired.

Drivers often drive at excessive speeds.  Pedestrians and horse-drawn carts use the middle of the road and don’t readily give way to oncoming vehicles.  Accidents causing fatalities are common. They are the leading cause of accidental death in Cuba.

  • Avoid driving in Cuba, as conditions can be hazardous
  • If you must drive:
    • do so defensively at all times
    • travel during daylight hours only
    • travel in groups when possible
    • refrain from driving at high speed even if traffic is light
    • never pick up hitchhikers

Public transportation

Buses

City buses are overcrowded and poorly maintained. The bus service is not reliable.

Tour companies offer good bus service between airports and the all-inclusive resorts. Buses used for organized day trips from hotels are usually in good condition.

Taxis

Official taxis are generally reliable.

Old-model private vehicles offered as taxis are not equipped with standard safety features. They have no insurance coverage for passengers in case of an accident.

Three-wheeled yellow Coco taxis are unsafe.

  • Only use registered taxis
  • Avoid flagging a taxi down on the street
  • Always agree on a fare before your ride

Trains

The rail network is comprehensive, connecting most of the island, but it is unreliable and slow. The railway system lacks maintenance and requires major restoration.

Health incidents

The Government of Canada continues to investigate the potential causes of unusual health symptoms reported by some Canadian diplomatic staff and dependents posted to Havana.

There is no evidence that Canadian travellers to Cuba are at risk. Continue to consult the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories for the latest updates.

Consular assistance is available in Havana, Varadero and Guardalavaca.

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

Back to top

Entry and exit requirements

COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements

Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19. These measures can be imposed suddenly and may include:

  • entry or exit bans
  • quarantine
  • mandatory proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing
  • suspensions or reductions of international transportation options

Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document.

Before travelling:

  • verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any restrictions or requirements related to this situation
  • consider even your transit points, as there are transit rules in place in many destinations
  • monitor the media for the latest information
  • reconfirm the requirements with your airline or tour operator

The situation could disrupt your travel plans. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance to change your travel plans.

Useful links

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from Cuban authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for the expected duration of your stay in Cuba. However, ensure that your passport is valid for at least 1 month beyond the date of your expected departure from Cuba in order to avoid delays.

If you are both a Canadian and Cuban citizen, you must present your valid Cuban passport to the immigration authorities to enter Cuba. You must also have a valid Canadian passport to return to Canada.

If you were born in Cuba, you should contact a Cuban government office in Canada before you leave to ensure compliance with Cuban regulations, regardless of your current citizenship. Failure to do so may result in being refused entry into Cuba or being detained upon entry.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Tourist visa: required
Family visa: required
Business visa: required
Press visa for journalist: required

Tourist visa

Canadian tourists travelling to Cuba must fill out a tourist visa, also known as a tourist card.

The tourist card is generally provided by tour operators or airlines. If you go to Cuba on your own, you can obtain it from a Cuban government office in Canada. It is also available at some airports in Canada.

Visitors are prohibited from undertaking business or press activities when travelling on a tourist card.

Length of stay

As a Canadian tourist, you may stay in Cuba for up to 6 months. However, you must obtain an extension of stay from immigration authorities if you intend to stay longer than 90 days.

Other entry requirements

Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay. 

If you’re arriving with “air only” tickets, you must show that you have sufficient funds to meet your minimum financial needs.

Arrival information

Starting on January 1, 2022, paper copies of the following documents will no longer be available:

  • International Boarding and Disembarkation Card
  • Customs Declaration Form
  • Traveller's Health Affidavit

All travellers must provide information online within 72 hours before departing for Cuba. Once you provide it, you will receive a QR code by email. You must show an electronic or printed version of the QR code to authorities upon arrival.

D’Viajeros traveller information portal – Government of Cuba

Health insurance

You must show proof of valid health insurance to enter Cuba.

All health insurance policies are recognized in Cuba, except those issued by U.S. insurance companies. However, the Cuban immigration authorities will decide which proof of health insurance is acceptable.

Proof of health insurance may be:

  • an insurance policy
  • an insurance certificate
  • a Canadian provincial health insurance card

If you don’t have proof of health insurance or if the proof you present doesn’t satisfy the Cuban immigration authorities, you may have to obtain health insurance from a Cuban insurance company upon arrival. This insurance may not cover all treatments. Local authorities may also refuse you entry to the country.

Canadian provincial health care coverage provides very limited coverage outside Canada. It won’t pay for medical bills up-front. It does not include air evacuation, and neither does Cuban health insurance.

Cuban authorities won’t let you leave the country with outstanding medical bills. You will need to remain in Cuba until all debts are paid.

Make sure you purchase the best health insurance you can afford and ensure the insurance includes medical evacuation and hospital stays.

More on Travel insurance

Travelling between the United States and Cuba

U.S. government sanctions prohibit any tourist travel between Cuba and the United States. You may not travel to Cuba from the United States unless you meet certain requirements.

FAQ about Cuba sanctions – U.S. Department of the Treasury

Health screening

You may be subjected to a medical examination when you enter or exit Cuba, or when reporting for domestic flights.

You may be subject to a mandatory quarantine for medical observation for up to 7 days if local authorities believe that:

  • you have symptoms of a serious illness, such as:
    • COVID-19
    • Dengue
    • Ebola
    • H1N1
    • Zika
  • you have come in contact with a suspected carrier of one of these viruses
  • you’re arriving from a country with a known epidemic

Children and travel

Special procedures regarding letters of consent may apply to Canadian minors travelling to Cuba without their parents.

More about travelling with children

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Back to top

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others. 

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

Rabies

Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).

Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

Risk

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

 

About Yellow Fever
 

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

*It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in the Caribbean, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Caribbean. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Cholera

Risk

Cholera is a risk in parts of this country.  Most travellers are at very low risk.

To protect against cholera, all travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.

Travellers at higher risk of getting cholera include those:

  • visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
  • visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring

Vaccination may be recommended for high-risk travellers, and should be discussed with a health care professional.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in the Caribbean, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, malariaWest Nile virus and Zika virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Chikungunya

There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

Dengue
  • In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
Zika Virus

Zika virus is a risk in this country.

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.

Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.

Travel recommendations:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
  • Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.

For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in the Caribbean, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

COVID-19 - Testing

Contact local health authorities, or the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test.

The Cuban government operates hospitals throughout the island.

Medical professionals are generally competent. However, facilities may be in modest condition and may lack basic drugs and equipment. Hygiene practices may be different than those in Canada.

Emergency and ambulance services are very limited and response times are slow, especially in rural areas.

Psychiatric care facilities are extremely limited and there are no hotlines available for this type of care.

Emergency medical care for tourists

Physicians are available at most hotels and at international clinics located in tourist areas. They provide initial emergency medical care reserved for foreigners.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Prescription drugs

If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining their legality in Cuba.

  • Bring sufficient quantities of your medication with you
  • Always keep your medication in the original container
  • Pack them in your carry-on luggage
  • Carry a copy of your prescriptions

As pharmacies sometimes run out of stock, you should also bring basic medicine, particularly if travelling to outlying areas.

Medical tourism

Canadian citizens have had serious health complications following cosmetic or other elective surgeries abroad.

Before leaving for medical travel:

  • make sure you have done your research
  • use competent health-care providers only

Receiving medical care outside Canada

Fumigation

Cuban public health authorities continue to implement insect control measures, including fumigation and aerial spraying.

The toxic fumigants can cause discomfort if inhaled. Stay indoors if fumigation is being carried out nearby.

Death abroad

Standards of mortuary services in Cuba differ from those in Canada. Cultural and religious beliefs are not taken into consideration.

There is one funeral home and one morgue in the country. Both are located in Havana. Only these facilities have the authorization to issue appropriate documentation to accompany human remains.

Timelines for the repatriation of human remains are long and costly. The capacity for refrigeration is limited, so is the availability and quality of coffins, metal caskets and wooden crates. Embalming materials and techniques are unlike those in Canada. Embalming may not be an option in some circumstances.

Autopsies are mandatory.

Ensure your insurance coverage also includes the repatriation of human remains.

Death Abroad Factsheet

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

Back to top

Laws and culture

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

Cuban criminal justice

The criminal justice system in Cuba differs significantly from that in Canada. Charges are not laid until the investigation is complete., The accused may be jailed during the entire period of investigation.

If you are arrested in Cuba, even for a minor incident, you should expect long delays to resolve your case and you may not be allowed to leave the country.

Cuba’s constitution allows the death penalty, but since 2003, the country has effectively had a moratorium on carrying out death sentences.

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences.  

Sex tourism

Cuba is actively working to prevent child sex tourism. A number of tourists, including Canadians, have been convicted of offences related to the corruption of minors aged 16 and under.

Prison sentences range from 7 to 25 years. Release on bail before trial is unlikely.

Marriage

Canadians wishing to marry in Cuba, including to a Cuban national, should consult the Embassy of Cuba in Canada for information on documents and procedures.

Photographs

It’s forbidden to photograph:

  • military and police installations or personnel
  •  harbour, rail and airport facilities

Avoid military zones and any other restricted or heavily guarded areas. These areas are not always identified.

Identification

You must carry photo identification. Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case it’s lost or confiscated.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Cuba.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of Cuba, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

General information for travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Cuba.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Cuba by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Cuba to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

Useful links

Imports and exports

Personal effects and medicine

Tourists are allowed to enter Cuba with a maximum of 30 kg of personal effects and 10 kg of medicine, duty free.

Personal effects may include new or used articles that might reasonably be needed for a holiday. Cuban customs officials may seize any imported item that they don’t consider to be for the tourist’s personal use. They may apply steep tariffs for personal baggage exceeding the allowable weight.

Cigars

You may export up to 20 cigars from Cuba without documentation or up to 50 cigars if they are in their original container, closed and sealed with the official hologram.

If exceeding these amounts, you must provide a guarantee of origin certificate. Failure to comply with this regulation will lead to the seizure of the cigars without compensation.

Art objects

Art objects, including artifacts and paintings purchased in Cuba, must be accompanied by an export permit. It’s usually provided by state-owned galleries.

Otherwise, items must be registered with the Registro Nacional de Bienes Culturales.

Electronic devices

All electronic devices with GPS technology are illegal and may be confiscated upon entry to Cuba.

Satellite telephones are also forbidden. You could face lengthy jail sentences if you are found guilty of importing such a device.

Cuban Customs Administration - Cuban government

Electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers

You cannot bring electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers into Cuba. Customs will seize these items upon arrival.

Black market

As a traveller, you may be approached and offered black-market goods, such as cigars, or asked to change dollars for Cuban currency.

Engaging in black-market transactions is illegal and can lead to difficulties with the Cuban authorities.

  • Never transport packages for strangers
  • Pack all luggage yourself

Boat traffic

The U.S. government closely monitors boat traffic in the Straits of Florida. It will seize any vessel not bearing a licence from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) if it believes it’s headed for Cuba.

You are subject to these measures if you dock your Canadian-registered boat in Florida. You’ll be exempted if you are simply en route to Cuba via the U.S. However, expect to be thoroughly searched and questioned.

Driving

You should carry an international driving permit.

More about the International Driving Permit

Traffic accidents

Traffic accidents are a frequent cause of arrest and detention of Canadians in Cuba.

Accidents resulting in death or injury are treated as crimes. The onus is on the driver to prove innocence. If you are found to bear responsibility in a traffic accident resulting in serious injury or death, you are subject to prison terms of up to 10 years.

Regardless of the nature of the accident, it can take 5 months to a year for a case to go to trial. In most cases, you will not be allowed to leave Cuba until the trial has taken place. You may also be imprisoned during this delay.

If involved in an accident:

  • don’t leave the scene
  • don’t move your vehicle
  • call the police

Drinking and driving

Penalties for drinking and driving are severe. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.04 percent.

If you are found driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be subject to arrest and detention.

Vehicle rentals

The insurance coverage in Cuba differs from that in Canada.

Rental agencies are government-controlled. If you’re found to be at fault in any way in an accident, the rental agency will nullify your coverage and seek damages to cover the cost of repairs. Cuban authorities can prohibit you from leaving the country unless the rental agency receives payment or until all claims associated with an accident are settled.

Contract agreements don’t cover occasional drivers. Therefore, the signatory is responsible for all people driving the vehicle.

  • Be cautious if you rent a vehicle in Cuba
  • Avoid renting a scooter; thieves target them and you may be responsible for the cost of its replacement
  • When returning a rented vehicle, make sure to obtain a receipt

Money

The Cuban national peso (CUP) is the only legal currency in Cuba. You can no longer use or exchange Cuban convertible pesos (CUC). In addition, you can no longer use U.S. dollars in Cuba. Banks won’t accept this currency.

You can exchange your Canadian dollars (CAD) for CUP without fees at:

  • the money exchange bureaus in Cuba’s international airports
  • banks
  • major hotels
  • official exchange bureau (cadeca)

It is illegal to change money on the street or anywhere else other than authorized entities.

It’s strictly forbidden to import or export CUP. After having passed through customs at any Cuban airport, you will be allowed to make purchases by credit card or by cash in CAD or EURO.

When flying out of Cuba, you should exchange your CUP for CAD before departure as CAD may not be available at the airport.

Credit cards

Credit cards issued by U.S. financial institutions or affiliated with U.S. banks, are not accepted in Cuba.

Other credit cards are generally accepted at major establishments and international resort chains. However, private restaurants (paladares) and private guest houses (casas particulares) don’t accept credit cards of any kind.

Credit card cash advances, in CUPs, may be obtained at banks, hotels or a state-run exchange bureau (cadeca).

Debit cards and ATMs

Debit cards and money transfers are not widely accepted in Cuba. ATMs are rare and don’t always work.

Back to top

Natural disasters and climate

Hurricane season

Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.

These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.

If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:

  • know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
  • stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
  • carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
  • follow the advice and instructions of local authorities

Useful links

Rainy season

The rainy season extends from April to October.

Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.

Back to top

Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 106
  • medical assistance: 104
  • firefighters: 105

Consular assistance

Due to the ongoing pandemic, our consular services could be limited. Contact us by email or telephone before visiting our offices.

Havana - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressCalle 30, No. 518 esquina a 7ma, Miramar, Havana, CubaTelephone(53-7) 204-2516 / 2517Fax(53-7) 204-6729EmailHavanConsular@international.gc.caInternetwww.cuba.gc.caServicesPassport Services AvailableTwitter@CanEmbCuba
Guardalavaca - Consulate of Canada
Street AddressHotel Atlantico, Suite 1, Guardalavaca, Holguín, CubaTelephone(53-24) 430-320Fax(53-24) 430-321Emailguardalavaca@international.gc.caTwitter@CanEmbCubaConsular servicesThis office is headed by an Honorary Consul of Canada and does not provide all consular services.
For more information, contact the Embassy of Canada to Cuba.

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Cuba, in Havana, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

 

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

Date modified: