Tips on Traveling to Cuba

Tips on Traveling to Cuba
International travel requires preparation and diligence. Before you can leave the country, you must ensure that you traveling documents, immunizations, driving permits and other documents are ready for review and scrutiny. International travel to Cuba requires the same preparation. Knowledge of certain key information will help you to prepare for your Cuba travels.


Cuba's government is one that maintains control through repressive methods. It is a totalitarian police state that has not established full diplomatic relations with the U.S. Interactions and encounters with Cuban citizens could result in police scrutiny and opposition.

What to Carry

Carry few valuables when traveling through Cuba. Although the Cuban government does not report crime statistics, travelers report that most crime involves the theft and burglary of valued items such as purses and wallets. Do not resist or fight offenders, as reports have indicated that there is a slight increase in violent crimes of the same nature.

Emergency Contact

Victims of crime should contact the local police and U.S. Interests Section immediately. The U.S. Interests Section is located in Havana. The representatives can assist you in locating medical care, contacting family, and understand the local justice system. The emergency 911 equivalent phone number is 105 for Fire and 106 for Police.


Many American prescription medications are unavailable in Cuba. Additionally, Cuba medical care is subpar to American facilities. Those who require medical supplies should bring the medication along in its original container, which includes your name and drug information. It is also recommended that you bring additional amounts for unforeseen extended stays.

Medical Services

Cuban hospitals and medical facilities do not recognize U.S. medical insurance, checks or credit cards. All medical services must be paid in cash at the time of service. Havana tourists are generally required to obtain their medical services from Cira Garcia Hospital in Miramar.


Do not accept rides from unlicensed taxis. These taxis are often driven by thieves. Steer clear of public buses. Tourist travel buses meet international safety and cleanliness standards and are more secure.

Avoid night road travel and steer away of side streets. Most Cuban streets are poorly lit at night and roads are often unmarked. Pedestrian traffic is high in Cuba. Drive carefully and adhere to the speed limits. It is common to see people and animals wondering the roads.


Cuba does not accept U.S. currency for commercial transactions. Additionally, it does not accept debit cards, credit cards or checks. Pay for your transactions with Cuban Pesos. You can exchange currency at hotels, airports and currency exchange houses.


The U.S. Department of State recommends that you register your travels with the USINT American Citizen Services at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Registering with the department will provide you with updated information on Cuban travel and security.


The U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Affairs has issued sanctions and restrictions on the Cuban travel and possessions. In general, no products, technology or services may be exported into Cuba from the United States. Cuban goods and services may not be imported into the United States, directly or indirectly through another country. All accounts and transactions involving Cuba will be blocked by the United States. Gift parcels must be limited to food, vitamins, seeds, medicines, medical supplies and clothing. In addition, monetary spending limits are limited to $50 per day, in most cases.

Before traveling to Cuba, make sure that your travels are registered accordingly. Review the requirements that are listed with the U.S. Department of State's Travel Department and the Office of Foreign Affairs to ensure that you understand the restrictions and requirements, and can meet these guidelines without error. Violating the applicable sanctions can result in 10 years or prison time and/or $250,000 in fines.

Article Written By Charmayne Smith

Writing professionally since 2004, Charmayne Smith focuses on corporate materials such as training manuals, business plans, grant applications and technical manuals. Smith's articles have appeared in the "Houston Chronicle" and on various websites, drawing on her extensive experience in corporate management and property/casualty insurance.

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