Informations for Travelers
Informational Note - General Customs of the Republic of Cuba
It has been authorized the selling of microwaves in Cuba, but the importation of those equipments is forbidden, even if it's for non commercial purpose.
May 14th, 2008
The regulations of the Cuban Republic for the traffic of passengers limit to $250.00 pesos equivalent to USD the worth of items to be imported, on the contrary, personal items and medicine are free of custom rights' charge.
Personal items are those new or used features that a traveller might reasonably need for its personal use during its trip, excluding goods imported with other purposes. When importing items up to $250.00 pesos, a 100% tariff should be paid. The first $50.00 pesos of the import are excluded from this tariff; it is a process that is authorized just once during the natural year. Including these authorized electrical appliances, a maximum of $200.00 pesos should be paid.
If you carry more than 23 Habanos (cigars) when leaving Cuba, you should submit the official purchase receipt and the product's container with the new holographic seal. Otherwise, the Cuban Custom will confiscate it.
The Republic of Cuba has BANNED the import of:
- Drugs, narcotics, and psychotropic substances (except those for personal use with the correspondent prescription)
- Pornographic books, magazines, obscene items and objects
- Light motor vehicles and their fundamental parts
- Bicycles with motor
- Bicycle's motors
- Inner combustion motors
- Freezers having a capacity exceeding 7 feet
- Air conditioners
- Cookers and electric ranges, including electrical resistance
- Ovens and microwaves
- Water heater
- Irons not having a consumption exceeding 290 watts/hour with spray or 703 watts/hour with spray and steam
- Bread toasters
In case you would like to export more than $500.00 USD cash, you should submit the declaration of the total amount of currency that you had imported at the arrival.
Tourists entering Cuba must have in their possession a valid passport, a visa or tourist card and a return ticket to place of origin or transfer to a third country. The tourist card authorizes a stay of 30 days and is renewable for a further 30 days. It is for leisure or recreational purposes only. Travellers can obtain a tourist card from a travel agent, tour operator or airline. They are also available at Cuban consulates in your country of origin.
When at the airport's immigration area, an immigration officer will ask you to present your airline ticket, tourist card and passport. You will then proceed to the baggage claim area and then customs checkpoint. Once in the main lobby of the airport our representative will be waiting, sign in hand, to welcome you and take your group to your destination.
Along with personal clothing, toiletries, and jewellery, travellers may bring in the following products duty-free:
2 bottles of liquor; 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250 grams of cut tobacco; or a combination of all three still limited to a total weight of 250 grams; and personal-use photographic and video equipment and supplies, laptops, tape and CD players and radios. However, you are expected to take these items with you when you leave the country.
Important: If you declare gifts, you will be asked to produce receipt(s) to verify the value of the item(s). You will be charged a duty of 100% of the value payable immediately.
When leaving Cuba, travellers must present the tourist card along with your passport and boarding pass to Customs. The departure tax of USD $25.00 cash is paid at the airport after checking in at the airline counter and before proceeding through customs. Once paid, a small sticker designed like the Cuban flag is affixed to your boarding pass. Custom officials look for the sticker. If you have forgotten to pay your departure tax you will be sent back to do so.
Upon leaving Cuba you must have receipts in order to take any items with you duty-free. Items such as artwork and live or dried specimens of Cuban flora and fauna must have additional documentation. Low cost souvenirs purchased at local flea markets or on the beach are rarely a problem.
Cuban cigars are a popular item. You may export a limited amount of Cuban cigars with its correspondent valid receipt(s). Without a receipt you are limited to 23 cigars. Regarding rum bottles, you may export up to 6 units, and owned jewels. In order to export works of art, paintings and old or heritage items, you must ask for permission to the National Registry of Cultural Funds of the Heritage Chair of the Cuban Ministry of Culture. As to gold and silver in great amounts, you must ask the Cuban National Bank for permission. If you are interested in acquiring specimens of the Cuban flora and fauna, you must request the legal documents to the tourist authorities, including the CITES permit.
The official currency is the Cuban Peso (CUP). The Cuban government has introduced the convertible peso, Peso Convertible (CUC). Prices in all hotels, tourist-related services and even Cuban establishments are quoted in CUC.
Cuban banks and currency exchanges will also convert your domestic currency to USD however, the rate of exchange will not be as favourable as that offered in your own country. The USD has a 10% surcharge plus the tax of the current exchange rate. It is recommended that you bring Euros, Sterling Pounds, Canadian Dollars and the Swiss Franc. This way you will save money when exchanging.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted as long as they are not issued by US banks or their affiliates. Eurocard and Access cards are also accepted under the same conditions. American Express Cards are not accepted in Cuba.
Outside tourist areas cash is the only available method of payment. Visa, MasterCard, Thomas Cook and most recently American Express travellers' checks are accepted, at designated Cuban banks (Banco Financiero Internacional, Banco Metropolitano, Banco de Crédito y Comercio), the Cuban government currency exchange (CADECA) and most hotels, as long as they are not issued by U.S. banks or their affiliates.
There are no major health risks for tourists to Cuba and no inoculations or vaccinations are required. All major hotels have doctors on the premises or on call 24 hours/day. There are international clinics in every major tourist area and Havana offers a hospital entirely for the care of tourists. Cuba has the highest percentage of doctors per capita in the world.
No matter where or when you travel, everyone should arrange for travel health insurance before they leave home. ASSISTUR S.A. is the Cuban owned travel insurance company for visitors to the island. If you have forgotten or if you would like additional travel insurance coverage, Assistur can help you. Contact us if you would like more information on the services offered by Assistur while in Cuba.
Cuba is safe and tourist-friendly by world standards. Visitors and Cubans alike walk the streets and neighbourhoods in safety. The police presence is widespread and highly visible, especially in the popular areas. One thing to remember is that most police officers speak only Spanish.
However, common sense and basic vigilance are still required. Care should be taken in crowded areas like public bars, discos and buses against pickpockets. Although purse snatching and mugging are not unknown, they are very uncommon and easily avoided for the alert traveler. Most travellers to Cuba will experience little more than the nuisance of a street peddler hawking cigars or other wares or services.
Cuban coffee is delicious - rich, nutty, full-bodied and slightly sweet. You can make it Cuban style like espresso, with milk like a cappuccino or café latte or like regular coffee. Cuban coffee is available in vacuum-packed cellophane bags. You can buy whole beans or pre-ground.
The quality and reputation of Cuban cigars is unsurpassed. There are currently about 35 brands available that produce several hundred varieties. Some of the most popular brands include Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Partagas, H. Upmann and Bolivar.
Each brand is available in 6 to 8 varieties or sizes. Prices vary according to brand and variety. If you have the time, read a few books on the subject. Or ask for advice both before you leave on your trip and once you've arrived. Be sure to try a few different brands and varieties. Then buy the one you like best in the price range you can afford.
Warning: Be wary of the person on the street or beach who offers to sell you cigars. These cigars could be inferior in quality.
Only official outlets and government stores can guarantee authenticity. Even then check for freshness - both smell and touch - uniformity of size and colour. Remember only these stores can issue receipts for your cigar purchases. You may need to produce these receipts at customs, either in Cuba or at home.
Rum in Cuba is excellent, plentiful and inexpensive. Cuban white rum is ideal for cocktails. Three of the best - all created in Cuba - are the Cuba Libre, the Daiquiri, and the Mojito.
Brands include Havana Club, Varadero and Caribbean Club. Varieties are white, 3, 5 and 7 year old. For the connoisseur you can purchase 15-year-old rum, for a hefty price. The older the rum, the darker it is. Aged rum should be sipped slowly with ice or straight up.
If you are going to buy rum, buy it in a store or at the duty-free shop at the airport. Don't buy it from a stranger... the product is usually an inferior brand with a little aged rum for colour. There is no limit on the amount of rum you can take with you when you leave Cuba. However, be aware of your country's regulations on the amount of alcohol that you can import.
Cuba also produces several brands of beer of varying type and quality including Hatuey, Mayabe, Bucanero and its best-known brand, Cristal. Cuba has begun to produce its own wine. Although still experimental, the result is already quite tasty.
Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Cuban cooking is not hot in terms of spicing. The influences are Spanish and African.Traditional cooking is built around the staples of rice and beans, pork, chicken and fried or boiled root vegetables all flavoured with onions, garlic and mild spices. The other staple is seafood. Traditional cooking Seafood.
ETECSA is the Cuban telephone company. It's services extends to e-mail and internet access as well. You can make calls from your hotel or purchase a pre-paid phone card in varying USD denominations. They are available at hotels, tourist areas, Infoturs locations and ETECSA's own telecorreo offices.
Cellular phone service is also available in Cuba. In most of Cuban hotels you can find Cibercafé service.