COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers
Cuba travel advice
Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)
Last updated: ET
On this page
- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
- Need help?
Cuba - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Cuba.
Safety and security
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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
Mass gatherings (large-scale events)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
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 Cuban authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
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.
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.
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.
Tourist visa: required
Family visa: required
Business visa: required
Press visa for journalist: required
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.
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 48 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
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.
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
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:
- 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.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Relevant Travel Health Notices
- Global Measles Notice - 8 September, 2022
- Zika virus: Advice for travellers - 28 June, 2022
- COVID-19 and International Travel - 17 March, 2023
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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 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 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 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).
- Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
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.
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.
- 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 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.
- 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
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may put you at higher risk 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’re more likely to come in contact with animals.
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) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners.
Medical services and facilities
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences.
Child 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.
Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime
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.
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.
You must carry photo identification. Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place, in case it’s lost or confiscated.
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.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
You should carry an international driving permit.
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.
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
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
- 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 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.
Natural disasters and climate
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
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
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.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 106
- medical assistance: 104
- firefighters: 105
Havana - Embassy of Canada
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.
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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