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Cuba Is Relaxing Rules For All International Travelers With New Electronic Visa

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One of the strictest countries to be a tourist in the world, the Caribbean cultural hotspot that is Cuba is finally easing entry rules for foreign guests.

The country is launching a new electronic visa (or eVisa) this May that will make traveling there a lot easier, including for Americans.

Cuba Is Relaxing Rules For All International Travelers With New Electronic Visa

Cuba has been known for decades to impose a particularly harsh immigration policy, exempting nationals of only a handful of countries to fly to the island visa-free, while a majority of visitors would have to apply either for a Consulate-issued visa or a tourist entry permit.

Now, this all changes, as Cuba prepares to enter a new era of open borders—well, sort of:

The Pearl of the Antilles Is Relaxing Entry Rules, At Last

Vintage Car Driving Past The Colonial Old Town Of Havana, Cuba, Latin America

Cuba is one of the most popular Caribbean destinations, best known for its rich colonial heritage, flavorful cuisines, crystal-clear waters, and… hem, its socialist principles.

It is home to Havana, a beautiful national capital dotted with Spanish-era wonders, with the Baroque San Cristóbal Cathedral, Plaza Vieja (or Old Square), and the 16th-century Castillo de la Real Fuerza to name a few.

Classic cars and timeless memorabilia that look exactly as they were in the 1960s add to Havana's vintage charm, and beyond just the aesthetics of it, it really won't take you long to fall in love with the thriving music scene and local food.

Cuban Flag Displayed On A Window In Old Town Havana, Cuba, Latin America

Regrettably, Havana-Washington relations have been frail, to say the least.

For decades now, the U.S. and Cuba have been at loggerheads over which ideological path to follow, to put it quite simply, and several embargoes and economic sanctions later imposed by the former, it's fair to say bilateral relations are… less than amicable.

Cuba's spate with the U.S. has also impacted its ties with U.S. allies and much of Latin America, leaving it essentially isolated, and at this point, you may be wondering why we're going over the geopolitics of it when what we're actually concerned with is travel.

Well, it's precisely Cuba's pariah status that has made it enforce restrictive entry guidelines for decades until, well, now.

Historic Building In Havana, Cuba, Latin America

Cuba Launches Easy-To-Apply eVisas

Historically, only tourists from 19 countries have been allowed to enter Cuba as tourists visa-free, notably those coming from countries that also embody Marxist values, or were once part of the defunct Eastern bloc, like Russia, Belarus, and more recently China.

Cuba is still standing firm in its beliefs, and they're not doing away with visas for the Western World, however, local authorities have just confirmed starting this month, the country will implement a new eVisa that is set to faciliate travel for Americans and Europeans.

Young Male Traveler Booking A Flight From His Computer As He Smiles, International Travel

eVisas are an increasingly popular alternative to regular visas, which typically involve a grueling application process, with visits to Consulates for interviews, surrending of personal documents, and the payment of exorbitant nonreimbursable fees in the event of a visa denial.

Variably called eVisa or Travel Authorization, depending on the country that makes use of them, these permits can be instead obtained online, from the comfort of home, usually by filling out a simplified application form, and the visa itself is sent via email.

A Border Officer Stamping A Visa Page On An Unspecified Passport, International Travel

There are several of hugely-popular tourist destinations that require U.S. citizens to obtain an online permit ahead of flying, most notably Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam, and soon enough, even the European Union will introduce its own.

Not only is Cuba making travel easier, it is signaling a significant change in its tourism policy:

Is This The End Of The Dreaded Pink Tourist Card?

Buildings in Cuba

You see, Americans and Europeans—and much of the world, for the matter—had been subject to the Toruist Card (or Tarjeta de Turista) requirement.

It can only be acquired at Cuban consular posts, and these can be particularly tricky to deal with depending on your country of origin, or alternatively, airlines and travel agencies that have been licensed by the Cuban administration to sell them.

There are two types of Tourist Card, one is pink, the other is green, and while we've never been able to establish a difference between them, it has been widely reported that Americans, or all Stateside passengers arriving to Cuba, must obtain a pink card.

Trinidad Cuba

Well, at least it's not like it doesn't fit with last year's Barbiemania trend…

Anyway, pink or green, a Tourist Card granted an initial stay of 90 days, renewable for an additional 90 once its holder is in Cuba; as for the price, Americans had to fork out $100 to get it (if you're traveling with family, you soon realize how the Pearl of the Antilles is not as affordable a getaway as Mexico).

How Does The eVisa Work?

woman-booking-trip-on-computer-with-suitcase

The eVisa has not yet been launched—it's supposed to come at some point in May 2024, so we'll keep you on the loop for that one—but based on the information available, it will ‘simplify' the visa application process, and eliminate the need for providing physical documents.

Cuba is still a heavily surveilled island state, and we expect the application form to be detailed but not too different from other eVisas:

Usually, you must provide your full name and passport details, inform authorities of the travel dates, inbound and outbound, tick a few boxes relating to security questions (and as this is Cuba, we'll advise you to read them carefully), and finally, pay a fee.

View of a street in Cuba

You're probably wondering if the eVisa is still going to cost Americans a hundred bucks, and at this point, eVisa application managers have not divulged fees yet, but we wouldn't count on a discounted rate unless stated otherwise.

The validity of the eVisa is also expected to be 90 days, similarly to the soon-to-be-discontinued Tourist Card, though that has not been confirmed, either.

We also don't know at this stage whether tourists who have been subject to formal visa requirements by Cuba and thus were not eligible to apply for Tourist Cards—Indians, Haitians, Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Iranians—will be permitted to use eVisas.

According to local news outlets, the eVisa system will be managed by Cuban consular officers.

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Roberto

Friday 10th of May 2024

It is incredible that there are still people who do not know that in Cuba there is a gangster cartel and not a communist dictatorship.

John McAuliff

Thursday 9th of May 2024

On the whole a very helpful and positive article, but two mistakes:

1) "The country is launching a new electronic visa (or eVisa) this May that will make traveling there a lot easier, including for Americans."

On the Cuban side, it has been very easy for years. Tourist cards were issued at the airport as part of the boarding process. There was no pre-clearance. Presumably a standard visa fee will replace the variety of highly inflated fees charged by airlines and service providers.

The problem is on the US side. Because of its universally rejected embargo, the US government blocks all conventional tourism by Americans, e.g. no sun and sand holidays. Cruises are blocked and virtually all hotels are forbidden. Licensed travel is highly restricted although possible in educational group tours or independently under "support for the Cuban people".

2) "Cuba's spate with the U.S. has also impacted its ties with U.S. allies and much of Latin America, leaving it essentially isolated....

Well, it's precisely Cuba's pariah status that has made it enforce restrictive entry guidelines for decades "

It is the US not Cuba that is isolated, as seen in the almost unanimous vote by the UN General Assembly every year against our embargo. (Even though Israel votes with the US, it places no restrictions on its citizens' travel to, trade with and investment in Cuba. Cuba has good bilateral relations with virtually every country in the world.

The problem that you left out that truly inhibits tourism from Europe is created by the unjustified relisting by the Trump Administration of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, an action that the Biden Administration has not reversed although it could do so easily. Anyone who travels to Cuba is barred from receiving an ESTE Visa Waiver to the US for ten years.

Roberto

Friday 10th of May 2024

@John McAuliff, the problem not is in the USA side but in the gangsters dictatorship than destroy Cuba during more 60 years, OK

Ran

Thursday 9th of May 2024

Avoid this anti American, communist, pro Hamas country who abuses its own citizens for DECADES.

Ran

Sunday 12th of May 2024

@Jim, because they are escaping hell for a better life

Roberto

Friday 10th of May 2024

@Jim, Sir, YES cuban gangsters cartel is a complice of Hamas, the cancer of Palestinian and Israel, ok

Roberto

Friday 10th of May 2024

@Ran, yes Sir, exactly words that the many people in USA don't know

Roberto

Friday 10th of May 2024

@Ran,

Jim

Friday 10th of May 2024

@Ran, no offense, Cubans (people) are in no way anti American. Quite the opposite. I live here and am a Canadian citizen. Yes, politics have for decades been a Bain to the people. Yes, the mutual governments are lined up on opposite sides of the political view. That must change...more for the Cuban people than anything else. If Cubans hate America as you say why are there now over 3 million Cubans living in the states, with hundreds of thousands applying for entry each year. By the way your comment of Cuba supporting Hamas is pure American propaganda nonsense. Please get your facts strait