Oh Cuba, a country I love to hate! But, that’s a blogpost for another time. Cuba is best described as frozen in time with a slow way of life, beautiful beaches, salsas in public squares and not-so-appetizing food. While I doubt I would return, is it worth visiting at least once? I would say, well every place deserves a chance (if you can afford to visit). However, since Cuba is not exactly on the Indian tourist radar, there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet regarding the same. Here is a detailed guide to Cuban visa for Indians (+ all other nationalities) that will explain everything you need to score a Cuban visa, and dispense the incorrect myths surrounding it.
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- Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Difference Between a Cuban Visa and a Cuban Tourist Card
- Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Who can travel with a Cuban Tourist Card?
- Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): How can I get a Cuban Visa from India?
- Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Documents Needed for a Cuban Visa from India.
- Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Is travel insurance mandatory for Cuba?
- Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): How can I get a Tourist Card?
- Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Can Indians travel with a Cuban Tourist Card?
- Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): If I go through all that time and money consuming trouble for a sticker visa that will surely guarantee my hassle-free entry into Cuba, right?
- Like this:
Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Difference Between a Cuban Visa and a Cuban Tourist Card
So, a Cuban Visa is basically a sticker visa that goes in your passport and is something you need prior to travelling to Cuba.
A Cuban Tourist card functions as a visa for a large number of nationalities, it is (shockingly) a card where you fill in your name, date of birth nationality, and passport number. There is a place on the card for the Cuban officials to put an entry and exit stamp. In other words, you must keep this card safe with you during your entire stay in Cuba.
Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Who can travel with a Cuban Tourist Card?
Only the following nationalities are forbidden from travelling with a Cuban Tourist Card. This includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt*, Ghana, Guinea, Tunisia*, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Algeria, Nigeria, Fuji*, Sierra Leone, Uzbekistan*, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and India** (sigh!).
*Aeromexico states here that they do not sell tourist cards to these nationalities at the airports. I am not certain if this is just an Aeromexico rule or if it means that nationals from these countries need a sticker visa. If you are from one of these countries, do check with the local embassy.
**IMPORTANT: Any nationality travelling from India needs a prior sticker visa! See No.7 of this document. What’s more, only Indians can get tourist visas from the Cuban Embassy in India. So, if you are a non-Indian planning to travel to Cuba from India, you apparently need a sticker visa issued from a Cuban consulate outside India. Bizarre!
A few countries can enter visa free for upto 90/30 days and do not need a tourist card or a visa. These countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bosnia, Dominica, Grenada, Macedonia, Russia, Macedonia, Kenya, Malaysia, Montenegro, Mongolia, Namibia, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Serbia, and Singapore. It seems Vietnamese and UAE nationals are also visa exempt but I am not able to verify this information.
The rest of the world can travel with a tourist card, which includes Europeans, Americans and Canadians.
Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): How can I get a Cuban Visa from India?
In India, there is only one official tourist agent for Cuba. His name is Nilesh Dhamelia. Mobile number: (+91)9811529464. Address: Rohan Travels, 501-Competent House, F- Block Middle Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001. You would need to call him and ask him to email you the Cuban visa application form. His email is . I too have the application form. So, feel free to contact me if you want me to send it on to you.
The cost of a Cuban visa is INR 4400/- + INR 1375/- if you need it the same day. The address of Cuban Embassy is: C-102, Block C, South Extension Part 2, New Delhi, Delhi 110049. Phone: +91-11-26262468. If you are in Delhi itself, contact me or Mr. Nilesh for the application form needed for the visa (see below for list of documents needed). You can then do the visa process on your own at the embassy.
In case you are out of Delhi, you would have to spend considerably more. To elaborate, you will need to send your documents and passport to Mr. Nilesh, who will submit your application at the Cuban embassy, collect it and post it back to you. His charges are INR 6400 for the visa + INR 1500(+ 18% GST) Service Charge + INR 500 for courier (upto 4 passports). So, that’s INR 9260!
As I fortunately was visiting Delhi when I realised I needed a Cuban visa, I called Mr Nilesh who emailed me the application and requisite document list. He did not charge me for it. I then did the application on my own. Normally Cuban visa is valid for 1 month from the date of issue. However, due to my travel plans, I was kindly given a visa, which was valid for 2 months with a single entry that allowed me to stay for 10 days. Permitted stay was only for 10 days because I had mentioned I intend to stay for a week. If you plan on staying longer (but less than 30/90 days), don’t worry, your visa will be issued accordingly. Lastly, I was able to collect my visa the very next day.
Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Documents Needed for a Cuban Visa from India.
See the picture below that Mr. Nilesh send me regarding documents required for the visa. It also contains the content of the affidavit you need to submit. I would advise to contact Mr. Nilesh in any case just to confirm that this list is still valid (it is as of JULY 2019).
Flight tickets: Your flights tickets must detail origin and return to your home country or country of residence. For instance, I was not flying from India but from Mexico. Nonetheless, I still had to show them all the flights in-between from India to Cuba, and from Cuba to wherever my current legal residence was. In order words, just tickets from Mexico-Cuba-Mexico were not excepted as I did not reside in Mexico and am not Mexican. Moreover, if there are other countries you are visiting between your origin and Cuba, you need to show them valid visas for those places too (if required). I did not need to show a Mexican visa as I was visa exempt, since I had a valid US visa.
Photo Dimensions: I simply used the ones standard for Indian passport.
Hotel Confirmations: You do not need pre-paid bookings. ‘Cancel Later’ bookings are also accepted. I would recommend using Booking.com
Bank Statements: E-statements are not accepted.
Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Is travel insurance mandatory for Cuba?
Apparently so. But, I was neither asked for it during my visa application nor upon arrival at immigration in Cuba. That said, it is still wise to have travel insurance. Many (if not all) American airlines have travel insurance included in their tickets. This is because American travel insurance companies do not cover Cuba. I do not know of any that does. If you do, please let me know.
You can also purchase insurance on arrival. The (only) Cuban insurance company is called Asistur. Here is a list of their very affordable prices. Click here for the Asistur website. If you wish to purchase the insurance from Asistur before arrival, click on the blue “email to insurance” link on top-centre to contact them. They will send you a quote with a link for payment. They are fairly quick at responding and are genuine.
Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): How can I get a Tourist Card?
If you are flying from Canada and on a Canadian airlines, the cost of your tourist card will be most likely included in the ticket. However, be sure to check. You would be handed the cards during boarding or in the plane. If the tourist card cost is not included in your ticket, you can simply buy them at the departing airport from the airlines.
For flights originating from the US, most airlines will allow you to purchase the tourist card during check-in. The prices will, however, largely vary depending on the airlines; the highest being around USD 100. Do note that Southwest, Delta, United and American allow you to purchase it online. For flights coming in from Latin America, it seems that a large majority of airlines such as Aeromexico, Copa and LATAM sell Cuban tourist cards at the airport for USD 20-25.
For flights coming from Europe, except for Air France and two low-cost German airlines (Condor and Eurowings), buying a Cuban tourist card at the airport is not an option. So, for instance, if you are flying KLM, Aeroflot*, Iberia, you will need to get a tourist card beforehand. You must do so because most European airlines will ask to see one at the time of boarding. In that case, based on where you are, you can try to order one online or visit a local tourist agent for Cuba.
*Aeroflot does not sell tourist cards as Russians do not require a tourist card/visa for Cuba.
Lastly, you have the option of purchasing one on arrival in Cuba. But this will cost you substantially more in terms of time and money. Moreover, you can only avail this option if your airline even lets you board with a tourist card to begin with.
Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): Can Indians travel with a Cuban Tourist Card?
A simple answer is: NO. But, haha, of course it’s not that simple. As per visa rules and regulations, Indians cannot travel with a tourist card. However, many Indians have visited Cuba from Mexico, Canada and the US with just a tourist card purchased online, or at the airport. And lo and behold, the Cuban authorities have let them through.
This is either because the authorities on both ends weren’t aware of the rule for Indians. Or, because apparently Indians with valid US/Canada/European visas or residency permits, when flying from anywhere except India, can visit Cuba with tourist cards (as stated under the “Visas Required” section of this page). However, when I tried to confirm this with the Cuban Embassy, they told me that was entirely untrue. But, recent experiences of Indians show otherwise. So clearly, there is a discrepancy between what the Cuban Embassy in India claims, and how Cuban immigration handles Indian passport holders.
I would say if you are flying from the US, Canada or Mexico, you will probably be let through with a tourist card. In fact, Aeromexico, despite what they say on their website about not selling tourist cards to Indians, was quite willing to sell me one! If you are flying from India though, I am absolutely certain you would need a sticker visa.
Cuban Visa for Indians (+ All Other Nationalities): If I go through all that time and money consuming trouble for a sticker visa that will surely guarantee my hassle-free entry into Cuba, right?
Haha, no! Because this is Cuba.
The Cuban immigration is so used to dealing with only tourist cards that they literally don’t know what to do if they see a sticker visa. It’s shamefully stupid, really. To narrate my experience: I did everything by the rulebook and had a sticker visa. But what did they do? They made me stand aside while they went to verify if the visa was real! The whole thing was absurd. I walk to the immigration officer, he is totally gobsmacked when he sees the sticker visa. Following which, he very rudely asks me to step aside. His tone made it look like I was trying to enter their precious country illegally. Haha, no thanks.
So anyway, this female police officer just vanishes with my passport. And when I try to enquire where the hell is my passport, all they say is “WAIT!” as rude as ever. Finally, they return my passport. And, the officer tells me that they had to check if the visa was right! What on earth? I have had like a zillion sticker visa thanks to my crap passport but never once did they have to go “verify” a visa issued by their own damn embassy. Like why do they not have an internal system where they can verify the visa at the immigration counter itself like every other country!!
So, after being made to wait for over 1/2hour and being made feel like some asshole illegal immigrant, I am finally stamped through and allowed to enter Cuba. Gee, thanks, what a great welcome! Things didn’t much improve after but like I said in the beginning, that’s a different blogpost altogether.
Indian and don’t want to go through all that visa trouble for Cuba? I don’t blame you. With the kind of money you will need to fly to Cuba from India, you are better off going somewhere else.
For more visa guides, see here.