Cuba travel advice

Latest updates: Editorial change

Last updated: ET

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Risk level

Cuba - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Cuba due to shortages of basic necessities including food, medicine and fuel.

Resort areas - Take normal security precautions

Take normal security precautions in the Cuban resort areas of:

  • Cayo Coco
  • Cayo Largo del Sur
  • Cayo Santa Maria
  • Guardalavaca
  • Varadero

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Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs.

Theft generally occurs in crowded places such as:

  • tourist areas
  • markets
  • public buses
  • night clubs
  • beaches

It can also occur in isolated areas.

Theft from hotel rooms, particularly in private accommodations (casas particulares), and from cars is common.

  • 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
  • Avoid showing signs of affluence
  • Keep electronic devices out of sight
  • Carry valid identification at all times
  • Keep a digital and a hard copy of your ID and travel documents
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash
  • Never leave belongings unattended in a vehicle, even in the trunk

Violent crime

Incidents of violent crime are not frequent, but assaults may occur. They mainly occur during a burglary or robbery.

  • Stay in accommodations with good security
  • Keep your windows and doors locked at all times
  • If threatened by robbers, don't resist

Fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud may occur.

Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Overcharge

Some businesses may try to charge exorbitant prices, namely taxis and classic car rentals. Disputes about overcharging may lead to violence.

  • Always confirm prices before consuming or taking up a service
  • Avoid running a tab
  • Avoid leaving your credit card with bar or restaurant staff
  • Check your bill to make sure it’s exact

Scams

Some hustlers specialize in defrauding tourists. Most of them speak some English or French and go out of their way to appear friendly. They may offer to serve as tour guides or to facilitate the purchase of cigars. Some have used violence in their efforts to steal tourists.

Fraudulent tour agents and taxi drivers also operate throughout the country, including at Havana’s international airport. Thefts of luggage from taxi trunks have occurred.

In bars, sex workers, including minors, may be very persistent and intrusive with tourists who refuse their advances. Foreigners, including Canadians, have been the victim of theft after engaging in sexual relations, and some of them have faced child sex accusations.  

  • Use reputable tour operators and registered taxis only
  • Avoid independent street vendors
  • Be wary of strangers who seem too friendly

Overseas fraud

Shortages

Cuba faces chronic and severe shortages of ‎basic necessities, including:

  • food
  • bottled water
  • public water supply
  • medication
  • fuel
  • hard-currency

Fuel shortages are currently critical and affect a wide range of services. Travelling across the island is extremely challenging. Public transportation services, including taxis, are often disrupted, leaving tourists with few options to travel. Some travellers have been temporarily stranded with a rental car. Intermittent shortages of tap water provided by municipalities happen, including in Havana and in resorts.

Hotels and resorts, that often use generators during power outages, may not be able to maintain their services. Fuel shortages may also affect government services.

Local authorities enforce the rationing of food and medications, which could also affect travellers.

Shortages may lead to disruptions to other essential services. There are often long line-ups at gas stations that have led to altercations.

  • Plan accordingly
  • Bring some basic necessities with you such as toiletries and medication
  • Keep a supply of water, food and fuel on hand
  • Make sure you always have access to a complete emergency kit

Power outages

Power outages occur regularly outside of Havana and touristic areas.

Obtaining services during an outage is challenging.

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of sexual harassment

Incidents of sexual assault against Canadian women have occurred, including at beach resorts.

If you’re the victim of a sexual assault, you should report it immediately to the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy and seek medical assistance. You should also report the incident to Cuban authorities and ensure that local police provide you with a Comprobante de Denuncia. This document confirms that a report has been filed.

A criminal investigation will likely not be possible if no formal complaint is made to Cuban authorities before you depart the country.

Police officers may speak only Spanish.

Advice for women travellers

Spiked food and drinks

Snacks, beverages, gum and cigarettes may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

  • Be wary of accepting these items from new acquaintances
  • Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers

Telecommunications

The telecommunications network in Cuba is poor. Connections are unreliable and may be intermittent.

Some Canadian cell phones may not work, even in large cities. Internet access is limited across the island.

Local authorities control telecommunications. They may block access to mobile phone and Internet in case of civil unrest or before demonstrations.

  • Don’t rely on your mobile phone for emergencies, especially outside major cities
  • Subscribe to and install a VPN service before leaving Canada
  • Avoid travelling alone
  • Inform a family member or friend of your itinerary

Online transactions

Online banking or shopping may be challenging in Cuba, if at all possible. Most Cuban websites are unsecure. Many are inaccessible.

Some travellers, who bought their travel package online on a travel website in Canada, found out on arrival in Cuba that their hotel received no reservation or payment.

  • Plan accordingly
  • Avoid online shopping
  • Check with the hotel if they accept online reservations and payments if you plan to book online

Demonstrations

Demonstrations sometimes occur, even if taking part in them may be illegal. Local authorities will break up political demonstrations or gatherings not sanctioned by the government. They may also block access to the 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.

  • 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

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Water activities

Swimming

Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards. Tidal changes can cause powerful currents, and riptides are common. Not all beaches have lifeguards or warning flags to warn of hazardous conditions.

  • Never swim alone or after hours
  • Don’t swim outside marked areas
  • Monitor weather warnings
  • Avoid visiting beaches or coastal areas during periods of severe weather warnings
  • Don’t dive into unknown water, as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death
  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities

Diving

Tour operators and diving centres may not adhere to international standards.

If you undertake adventure sports, such as diving:

  • choose a reputable company that has insurance
  • ensure that your travel insurance covers the recreational activities you choose
  • don’t use the equipment if you have any doubts about its safety

Recreational boating

If you are planning to go boating:

  • know the navigation rules
  • make sure life jackets are available for all passengers
  • follow safe practices for all water activities such as jet-skiing, water-skiing or fishing
  • don’t overload your boat capacity
  • carry a VHF marine radio that will generate your position in case of emergency
  • be prepared for emergencies

Water safety abroad

Road safety

Road safety standards are poor throughout the country. Accidents causing fatalities are common.

Road conditions

Road conditions are poor throughout the island, with the exception of the Central Highway, which runs west to east across the country. Driving may be dangerous due to:

  • poorly maintained roads
  • lack of signage
  • Inadequate lighting
  • roaming livestock
  • horse-drawn carts
  • pedestrians
  • slow-moving traffic

Most Cuban cars are old and in poor condition. They often lack standard safety equipment. Some cars and most bicycles don’t have functioning lights.

Driving habits

Some drivers don’t respect traffic laws. Many of them, driving an electric vehicle for which licence and registration are not required, are inexperienced and unqualified. Drinking and driving is also common.  

If you choose to drive in Cuba:

  • do so defensively at all times
  • avoid travelling at night
  • travel in groups when possible
  • never pick up hitchhikers, who have been known to assault drivers

Public transportation

Buses

City buses are scarce, overcrowded and poorly maintained. Bus service is not reliable.

Incidents of pickpocketing are frequent.

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.

  • Use only registered taxis
  • Avoid flagging a taxi down on the street
  • Never share a taxi with strangers
  • Agree on a fare before departure, as taxis are not equipped with meters

Trains

The rail network is comprehensive, connecting most of the island, but it’s unreliable and slow. Train service is limited to Cuban nationals only.

Health incidents

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

There is no evidence that Canadian travellers to Cuba are at risk.

Air travel

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

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

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 the 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.

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

Tourist card

Canadian tourists travelling to Cuba need a visa, known as tourist card. The tourist card allows you to stay in Cuba for up to 90 days. The tourist card is generally included in holiday packages provided by tour operators or airlines providing direct flights from Canada. If you go to Cuba on your own or transit via another country, you are responsible for obtaining the tourist card from a Cuban government office in Canada. You may also buy it at some airports in Canada and in the United States.

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 if you intend to stay longer than the initial 90-day period allowed by the standard tourist card.

D’Viajeros traveller information portal – Government of Cuba

Arrival form

You must provide information on your arrival in Cuba via an online form within 72 hours before entering the country.

Once done, 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 have limited coverage. Local authorities may refuse your 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, which are payable by credit card only. You will need to remain in Cuba until all debts are paid.

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

More on Travel insurance

Other entry requirements

Customs officials will ask you to show them:

  • a return or onward ticket
  • proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay
  • proof that you have a place to stay if arriving with “air only” tickets

Dual citizenship

If you’re both a Canadian and Cuban citizen, you must:

  • present your valid Cuban passport to the immigration authorities to enter Cuba
  • 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 your being refused entry into Cuba or being detained upon entry.

Canadian permanent residents

You will not be able to leave Cuba if you are a Canadian permanent resident and are without a valid permanent resident card. If your card is lost or stolen, you must contact the Canadian Embassy in Havana to obtain a travel document that will allow you to leave the country. This procedure can take up to 10 working days. Once the document is ready, you'll need to make an appointment with the immigration section of the Canadian Embassy in Havana to collect it before returning to Canada.

Permanent resident travel document: How to apply

Health screening

You may be subjected to a medical screening or interrogation by public health authorities 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

Travelling with children

Yellow fever

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

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

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

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

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

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.

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

 

Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

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.

Hepatitis B

 Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Influenza

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Rabies


In this destination, rabies is carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. Rabies treatment is often available in this destination. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

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.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

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 of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is a common illness among travellers to this country. It can be spread through contaminated food or beverages, such as raw or undercooked poultry and eggs, as well as fruits or vegetables.

Practice safe food and water precautions. This includes only eating food that is properly cooked and still hot when served.

Pregnant women, children under 5 years of age, those over 60 years of age, and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill.

Most people recover on their own without medical treatment and from proper rehydration (drinking lots of fluids).

Travellers with severe symptoms should consult a health care professional as soon as possible.

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Chikungunya

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a 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.

During your trip:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • Use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact, particularly if you are pregnant.

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the potential risks of travelling to this destination with your health care provider. You may choose to avoid or postpone travel. 

For more information, see Zika virus: Pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Medical services and facilities

Good health care is limited in availability.

The health system is government-owned. The Cuban government operates hospitals and clinics throughout the island.

Medical professionals are generally adequately trained. However, facilities are in poor condition. They lack basic drugs, medical supplies and equipment. Hygiene practices may be inadequate.

Medical services are also available at most hotels and international clinics located in resort areas, where doctors and nurses provide initial emergency medical care reserved for foreigners. Health care provided in those clinics is usually better than services offered in public facilities.

Mental health care facilities are extremely limited. There are no hotlines available for this type of care in the country.

Emergency and ambulance services are limited. Response times may be slow, especially outside tourist areas.

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

Travel health and safety

Medication

 Many prescription medications may not be available in Cuba.

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

  • Bring enough of your medication with you
  • Always keep your medication in the original container
  • Pack your medication in your carry-on luggage
  • Carry a paper and an electronic copy of your prescriptions

Cuba faces severe medicine shortages, including antibiotics and common pain killers. In addition of your prescription medication, you should also bring your own basic medicine in sufficient quantities to last beyond the length of your intended stay.

Fumigation

Public health authorities implement insect control measures including periodic fumigation and aerial spraying.

  • Consult your doctor before traveling to see if the situation could affect you, especially if you suffer from respiratory ailments
  • Stay away from a nearby fumigation process

Death abroad

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

There is one funeral home and one morgue in the country which cater to foreigners. 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, as well as the availability of coffins and urns. Embalming materials and techniques are unlike those in Canada. Embalming may not be an option in some circumstances.

Ensure your insurance includes coverage for 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.

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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.

Transfer to a Canadian prison

Canada and Cuba accede the Treaty between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Cuba on the Serving of Penal Sentences. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Cuba to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Cuban authorities. This process can take a long time, and there is no guarantee that the transfer will be approved by either or both sides.

Cuban criminal justice

The criminal justice system in Cuba differs significantly from that in Canada. Charges are not laid until the investigation is complete. If you’re arrested in Cuba, you will likely be detained during the entire period of investigation. You should expect long delays to resolve your case. You will not be allowed to leave the country during this period.

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

Investments

Private property rights in Cuba are strictly controlled. Only Cubans and permanent residents can buy a property in Cuba or register a privately owned vehicle. Be wary of strangers or acquaintances offering to purchase these items on your behalf. If you plan on making investments in Cuba, seek legal advice in Canada and Cuba. Do so before making commitments. Related disputes could take time and be costly to resolve.

Drugs

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

  • Pack your own luggage and monitor it closely at all times
  • Don’t transport other people’s packages, bags or suitcases

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Child sex tourism

It's a serious criminal offence to have sex with minors in Cuba.

Local authorities are actively working to prevent child sex tourism. Tourists, including Canadians, have been convicted of offences related to the corruption of minors aged 16 and under.

Prison sentences for this type of crime range from 7 to 25 years. Release on bail before trial is unlikely.

Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime

Marriage

 To get married in Cuba, you must provide several documents including:

  • your birth certificate
  • a copy of your passport
  • your decree absolute certificate if divorced
  • a death certificate for your spouse and a marriage certificate if widowed
  • an affidavit of your single status if you have never been married before

All documents must be translated into Spanish, certified, authenticated and legalised by the Embassy of Cuba in Canada.

 Consult the Embassy of Cuba in Canada if you wish to marry in Cuba, including to a Cuban national.

Useful links

Drones

Drones are prohibited.

They will be confiscated by the authorities upon entry.

Photography

Professional photographers require a visa to work in Cuba. They may also need a permit to import their equipment.

It’s forbidden to photograph, including with drones:

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

Military zones and any other restricted or heavily guarded areas are not always identified.

Identification

Authorities may request to see your ID at any time.

  • Carry valid identification at all times
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport in case it’s lost or seized
  • Keep a digital copy of your ID and travel documents

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.

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 personal effects but items entering the country for donations may be subject to import rules. They could be seized and taxed in accordance with local legislation. This includes:

  • clothing
  • new or used material goods
  • personal care products
  • medications

Cuban customs officials have the authority to decide what they deem 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 without documentation
  •  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.

In the absence of such a permit, items must be registered with the Registro Nacional de Bienes Culturales.

Ministry of Culture – Government of Cuba

Electronic devices

Electronic devices with GPS technology may be confiscated upon entry and returned upon departure.

Satellite telephones are forbidden.

Electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers

You cannot bring electronic cigarettes or personal vaporizers to Cuba.

Customs officials will seize these items upon arrival.

Black market

Street vendors may offer you black-market goods, such as cigars, or ask to change dollars for Cuban currency.

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

Cuban Customs Administration – Government of Cuba

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’re 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.

If travelling by boat to Cuba from the US:

  • Make sure to know the regulation related to docking and port controls
  • Expect thorough search and interrogations

Driving

You should carry an international driving permit.

International Driving Permit

Traffic accidents

Traffic accidents have led to arrest and detentions of Canadians in the past.

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

If you’re involved in an accident:

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

While car insurance is mandatory for foreign drivers and foreign-registered vehicles, it's not for Cuban citizens. As a result, most local drivers don't carry a car insurance. You shouldn’t expect compensation for vehicle damage or personal injury from a Cuban driver following a car accident.

Vehicle rentals

Car insurance coverage in Cuba differs from that in Canada.

Rental agencies are government-controlled. If you’re found to be at fault in an accident, the rental agency will nullify your coverage and seek compensation 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. As a result, 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
  • Make sure to obtain a receipt when returning a rental vehicle

Money

The currency of Cuba is the Cuban peso (CUP).

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

Canadian credit cards are increasingly accepted at restaurants and hotels. However, the system is unreliable and bank cards may not work or may stop working without notice.

ATMs are rare and also unreliable. Each withdrawal is limited to 5 000 CUP, when possible.

You may obtain credit card cash advances at banks, hotels or a state-run exchange bureau, but in CUP only.

When travelling to Cuba, you should plan to bring enough currency to cover the duration of your stay. You should also plan for small bank notes to facilitate daily transactions such as, street food, taxis and tips.  

You can easily exchange Canadian and American dollars, as well as euros for CUP at:

  • the money exchange bureaus in Cuba’s international airports
  • banks
  • major hotels
  • official exchange bureaus

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

You cannot go through Cuban customs with more than 5 000 CUP.

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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. You could face serious safety risks during a hurricane.

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

  • 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 delivery of essential services. Roads may become impassable due to mudslides and landslides. Bridges, buildings, and infrastructure may be damaged.

Earthquakes

Cuba is located in an active seismic zone.

Earthquakes may occur. Even minor earthquakes can cause significant damage.

In the event of an earthquake:

  • monitor local media to stay informed of the evolving situation
  • follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders

Useful links

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

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

Consular assistance

Havana - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressCalle 30, No. 518 esquina a 7ma, Miramar, Havana, 11300, CubaTelephone(53-7) 204-2516/7Fax(53-7) 204-2044Emailhavan-cs@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-CubaFacebookEmbassy of Canada to CubaTwitterCanada in CubaConsular district

Guardalavaca, Varadero

Guardalavaca - Consulate of Canada
Street AddressHotel Atlantico, Suite 1, Guardalavaca, Holguín, CubaTelephone(53-24) 430-320Fax(53-24) 430-321Emailguardalavaca@international.gc.caTwitter@CanEmbCuba
Varadero - Consulate of Canada
Street AddressCalle 21, No 2101 e/Avenida Primera y Segunda, Varadero, Matanzas, CubaTelephone53 4566 7395Emailvaradero@international.gc.caTwitter@CanEmbCuba

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.

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