Cuba has a rocky historical past; embargos, authoritarian communism, and Che Guevarra. But despite this, Cuban culture flourished distinctly enough for tourists to take a closer look. If you’re on your way to take your first steps on Cuban soil, here’s some information we’ve compiled to get you going.
- Expat Clubs
- Local News Sources
- Country Information
- Resident and Work visa information
- How to get a driving license
- Where to live and about the accomodation types
- Healthcare information including Hospitals and Insurance
There are no expat meet up clubs as such in Cuba and most expats communicate online through websites such as ExpatWoman.com.
International School of Havana
The mission of the I.S.H. is to provide a high quality educational programme through curricula internationally recognised for their standards of excellence. The school admits students from the diplomatic or expatriate non-diplomatic community residing temporarily in Cuba with their parent(s) or guardian(s), which have a foreign (non-Cuban) citizenship.
Curriculum: IGCSE, ISH, International Baccalaureate
Address: Calle 18 #315 esquina a 5ta. Avenida, Miramar, Havana. Cuba
Tel: +53 7 204 2540, +53 7 204 2818
Fax: +53 7 204 2723
The Havana Journal is one of the largest private Cuba related website in the world. It is an online media source featuring Cuba business, culture, politics and travel news and information along with Directories, Forums, Marketplace and Photo Gallery. There is a very informative Cigar section, Events Calendar, Castro Watch news feed and Escozul cancer treatment forum.
Capital City: Havana
Other Important Cities:
Currency: Cuban Peso (CUC$)
Calling Code: +53
Internet TLD: .cu
Electricity: 110/220V 60Hz
Visitors from certain countries may enter and stay in the country from 28 to 90 days depending on which policy applies. Others visitors must obtain a tarjeta de turista or a tourist card that permits entry and stay in Cuba for up to 30 days. The same card must be presented when departing; an additional fee should be paid if the card is lost.
Apart from the tourist card, travelers may also secure other types of visas: transit, on-arrival, student, temporary worker, spousal and marriage visa. The Cuban Embassy site has outlined further information about these visas.
There are specific regulations for US citizens, or nationals from countries under US jurisdiction about transactions with Cuba, including travel:
‘The Cuban Assets Control Regulations are enforced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and affect all U.S. citizens and permanent residents wherever they are located, all people and organizations physically located in the United States, and all branches and subsidiaries of U.S. organizations throughout the world. The regulations require that persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction be licensed (via general or specific license) to engage in any transactions pursuant to travel to, from, and within Cuba, or that the transactions in question be exempt from licensing requirements. Transactions related to tourist travel are not licensable. This restriction includes tourist travel to Cuba from or through a third country, such as Mexico or Canada. U.S. law enforcement authorities enforce these regulations at U.S. airports and pre-clearance facilities in third countries. Travelers who fail to comply with Department of the Treasury regulations could face civil penalties and criminal prosecution upon return to the United States.’ – US Passport and International Travel, please visit their site for more info.
Cuban business visa is for participating in short term commerce in Cuba.
- Valid passport (an additional copy) with at least 6 months validity remaining
- Fully completed Cuban business visa application form
- Passport type photographs (no older than 6 months)
- Valid resident visa and one copy
- Current bank statement and one copy
- Proof of travel insurance coverage for trips and one copy
- Business references (letter from your employer, invitation from Cuban company or organization)
- Proof of Cuban hotel reservation and airline booking reservation for Cuba.
There are fourteen provinces in Cuba. The capital Havana is a popular place for foreigners. The city’s historical fingerprints are pronounced and the sense of history lingers. At night, it’s a different story as Havana’s nightlife unfolds. Baracoa or la ciudad primera is another tourist magnet. Located at east, the oldest city in Cuba bursts in local culture, cuisine and chocolate. However it’s only accessible via boat through Guantanamo City.
Hotels in Cuba vary in style and quality. Choices range between state-owned hotels to French and Spanish partnership hotels. Habaguanexhotels.com provides listings of historic hotels around the country.
Casa particulares or private houses are similar to bed and breakfasts. These are recommended for foreigners as they are considerably cheaper than being in a hotel or renting out an apartment. It’s important to note that there are ‘legal’ ones you need to look for. These are marked by a blue triangle on white posted by the door.
CubaAccommodations.com is a useful site that shows rental listings from homes to apartments around Cuba.
Expats may use an international driving license to drive legally in Cuba. The Cuban police are very fond of pulling foreigners over, sometimes just because they are foreign so don’t attempt to drive without a license.
Here is some advice from the British Embassy...
- You will need a valid UK Driving Licence to drive in Cuba. If you rent a car make sure the insurance includes local third party cover.
- All drivers and passengers of motorcycles and scooters are required by law to wear a crash helmet. In view of serious accidents that have involved tourists, you should not use mopeds or three wheel Coco-Taxis for travel around Cuba.
- Driving standards are variable. Many vehicles, including public transport, are badly maintained. Roads are poorly lit and sign-posted. Beware of cyclists, potholes and cars that stop without warning to pick up hitch-hikers. Vehicles that break down are often left on the road until repairs can be made.Avoid driving at night, when animals and unlit vehicles are a real danger.
- Don’t drink and drive.
- If you’re involved in a serious traffic accident the police investigation may take several months to resolve. During this time you will normally not be allowed to leave Cuba and may even be detained. If convicted of killing someone in a road traffic accident, you can expect to receive a very lengthy prison sentence. If you do have a serious accident, contact the British Embassy as soon as possible.
- Radio taxis are generally reliable. Avoid private taxis and the older model private cars being offered as taxis which lack proper licencing and modern safety features.
For more information please visit here.
Healthcare in Cuba is fully state-run; there are no private hospitals. The standard of care and treatment are excellent however supplies, equipment and medication are in short supply. Most foreigners are referred to Cira Garcia Hospital in Havana. Payment by cash should be expected; the US dollar is not an accepted currency. You should make sure your health insurance will cover or reimburse you for your any medical cost; American insurances may not be accepted. Travel medical insurance is required in Cuba. You will have to purchase one from the local provider Asistur S.A., which has an office at the airport immigration in Cuba.
ASISTUR acts as insurance broker offering different insurance covers tailored by the main Cuban insurance companies.
Clinica Central Cira Garcia
The "Cira Garcia" Central Clinic belongs to the Public Health National System of Cuba, and it is part of the subsystem of attention to foreign patients. It is commercialized in the international market by the Company CUBANACAN Tourism and Health, from the CUBANACAN Group. The Clinic has an area of more than 7 200 m2. It counts on three hospitalization levels in which 39 private rooms are distributed, two of them suites with all the facilities of the most modern clinics: patient electronic bed with possibilities of direct oxygen and central aspiration, companion bed, full bathroom with hot and cold water 24 hours a day, air condition, satellite TV, night light, inter communication with nursery post, equipment for disabled person, and safe box. It counts on modern surgery rooms with sections for pre-anesthesia and post-anesthesia recovery; progressive care unit with intensive and intermediate care; clinic labs of pathologic anatomy and microbiology, with quick response equipment; a full lab of applied physiology, and a modern service of inner image.
Address: Calle 20 No. 4101 esq. Ave 41 Playa, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba
Tel: +537 204 2811
Fax: +537 204 2640
Clinica Internacional De Santa Maria
Address: Av Terrazas No 36, Havana, Cuba:
Tel: +53 7 97 1032
Clinica Internacional de Cayo Largo
Address: Cayo Largo, Havana, Cuba
Tel: +53 45 248 238
Hospital Provincial de Camaguey
Address: Camaguey, Havana, Cuba
Tel: +53 32 82010