Getting There, Moving There and Staying There

Exploring and Living in Cuba

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Different Types of Visa

Before you travel to Cuba, be it for a visit or in order to move there, you need to first secure a visa. The type of visa you need to apply for depends on the purpose of your journey and the duration of your stay. There are plenty of visitor visas which for tourists and those who are just travelling through the country. Expats, however, should rather have a look at the category of temporary resident visa. The following categories are available:

  • D-1 visa for employees with technical, scientific, or other special qualifications
  • D-2 visa for students and scientists
  • D-3 visa for artists
  • D-4 visa for athletes
  • D-5 visa for asylum seekers and refugees
  • D-6 visa for journalists
  • D-7 visa for traders and businesspeople
  • D-8 visa for religious workers
  • D-10 visa for medical tourists

Diplomat visas and so-called official visas are available as well but rather apply to ambassadors and politicians from foreign countries. Some expats may wish to become permanent residents of Cuba. However, this is not easy and you generally have to be related or married to a Cuban citizen. The duration of your visa, as well as the application fee, depend largely on your type of visa.


General Application Requirements

In order to apply for a visa, you should turn to the nearest Cuban embassy or consulate. Of course, the application requirements vary depending on which type of visa you require. However, there are some basic documents you should have ready:

  • valid passport
  • one photo
  • complete visa application form
  • proof of payment of visa application fee
  • a return flight ticket
  • proof of health insurance

If you prefer to apply via mail, you also have to add a stamped envelope with your address on it. However, you should enquire with the authorities first and find out if this option is available to you at all. Keep in mind that an application for a D-1 visa may also require a written job offer or work contract from your prospective employer in Cuba.


Fact-Finding Visits

Interested in possibly moving to Cuba? You may want to visit Cuba on a fact-finding trip. To do this you will need a Tourist Visa.

Also called tourist card or 'tarjeta turista'.

It gives you the permission to stay for 30 days in the country, one extension of 30 days is possible (a total of 60 days) unless you are from Canada, in which case it is for 90 days) renewable for another 90 days without leaving the country.(Therefore Candians have a special treatment, they get a tourist visa for 90 days extendable to 180 days) .

At the end of 60 days you can then leave the island and return on the next flight, when another 60-day period will start. This can be repeated indefinitely. Once the in-country ex-tension runs out, tourists must leave Cuba for at least a 24-hour period outside the country (such as to Cancun or Nassau), and buy a new tourist card to re-enter Cuba.

This process can become expensive since you need to pay for a flight every 60 days. While in Cuba you must stay in licensed tourist accommodation – either a hotel or a private house with a license (a casa particular).

In case you lose your tourist card or need an extension, you can go to one of the immigration offices in Havana, Baracoa, Santa Clara, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, or Viñales.

Make sure to hold on to your tourist card throughout your stay, as you will need it again when leaving the country.

Family Visa

Allows foreigners married to a Cuban citizen or close relatives to stay for 60 days in the house of the Cuban family (called a A2 visa). The main difference is that you can stay with a family.


You need a visa to live or retire in the country. There are several types of visa for a stay on the island.

Temporary Residency

May be applied for by businessmen and investors who decide to stay in the country to manage their businesses. It is granted for one year to people who obtain employment in Cuba with a Cuban work permit. It is very rare for a foreigner to be able to do that. However, there are some foreign companies operating there and they do employ some foreign nationals. For those who obtain such employment, they are granted residence for as long as the employment lasts. It is not necessary to stay in licensed tourist accommodation. The big downside to temporary residence status is that – like Cuban citizens – you must apply for permission to leave the country. This can take up to a couple of weeks. For a fee, there is a fast-track procedure, but even this can take up to three days.

Temporary Residency may also be applied for by businessmen and investors who decide to stay in the country to manage their businesses.  This type of residency may be applied for through the International Legal Council at 16 Street # 314 in Miramar.

Student Visa

If you sign up to study at one of the thirteen universities in Cuba – and they all offer Spanish courses for foreigners – you can remain in Cuba for the duration of your studies. This could last for weeks, months or even years. For this you must either stay in university accommodation or licensed tourist accommodation.  The author has met several Americans who are currently studying medicine in Havana.

Permanent Residence

In Cuba there are many types of residencies, including the permanente one.

E-1 Visa: Issued to foreign nationals applying to reside permanently in Cuba with Cuban citizens who are their parents or children, properly crediting the relationship, and the spouse, if the marriage was made according to Cuban law. Getting permanent residency does not mean that you will lose your original citizenship or you will not be able to travel.

This category is possible for foreigners married to a Cuban citizen. The amount of 5000 CUC must be deposited into a Cuban bank account and you must be able demonstrate that you will be financially independent or solvent. You also need to undertake some health tests and to get proof of no serious criminal record.

With this status, you are for all intents and purposes a Cuban citizen. You get an ID card and even a ration book. However, you have to apply for permission to leave the country, as with temporary residency.

In summary this is what you supposedly need :

  1. To be married to a Cuban citizen
  2. Have a $5000 guaranteed deposit in a Cuban bank
  3. Pass a medical examination which can be done at any Cuban international clinic.
  4. Have a permanent place to live (normally the house of your Cuban partner)
  5. Proof that you have an income from a job, pension, or foreign assets. Don't expect to work in Cuba, since all jobs handed out by the government with Cubans have the priority. The average Cuban salary is $25 dollars monthly (salaries controlled by the Cuban Government).
  6. Supposedly you must live in your partner’s home or that of any relative of the partner.


Required documents that you must provide

Birth Certificate – You have to obtain a letter from the Consulate or Embassy of your country of birth stating that your birth certificate was issued according to the regulations of the government and that the documents can be considered valid.

Certificate of Residence or Citizenship (Citizenship Card)

Medical Tests (Issue within 6 months)

Chest X Rays, AIDS and Blood Test

Technical Capacity (Diploma of Studies, Reference Letter, Letter of incomes (source of income, pension, etc.)

Criminal Record Report (issued within 3 months)

Personal letter stating the reasons why you are you are requesting the Permanent Residence in Cuba. (Include full name and address of the person in Cuba you are planning to stay with and relationship; you can attach Marriage Certificate, Consent of the owner of the house in Cuba for you to live there, etc.)

Cuban Spouse’s ID Card and she may have to be present when you apply

Two Passport Pictures

 Complete Copy of your Passport

* Most of there documents are valid for only 6 months. After said period of time they must be updated.


How to prepare the documents :

Take the originals to a Public Notary and get certified copies of the documents stating that the documents are true and valid copies of the originals issued by competent authorities inyour country.

Same Documents have to be Officially Translated into Spanish. This should include a Statutory Declaration of the Translator signed by the Public Notary.


Authentication of the documents:

The process of legalizations takes from 10 to 15 days.

The fee for authentication is $ 176.00 CAD per document (each document in English and each document in Spanish)

Translations fee is $ 48.00 CAD, per page.

All services requested by mail must include a non-personal fee of $ 40.00 and a pre-paid envelope to send you back the documents once legalized.

Rush fee is $40.00 cad per documents; you will have the documents within 3 days.

Real Estate Resident

Cuba’s Gaceta Oficial recently announced a revision to Cuban immigration law (Decree 305, Articles 92 and 93), which now makes  foreigners who own Cuban real estate or have long-term property rentals on the island eligible for one-year visas renewable for an extra year. The new visa category, Real Estate Resident (Residente de Inmobiliaria) is now officially listed along with other types of visas for which incoming foreigners can apply.

Note: The Cuban government makes these requirements at their own discretion and may change them at anytime arbitrarily.  The autor suggests that anyone who is interested in becoming a Cuban resident, should definately check with the law firms mentioned in the section on “How to Find a Lawyer in Latin America.”

Cuba’s Immigragtion office in Havana is located at:  Calle L b/n Calles 23 y 25 VEDADO.

For more information about Cuban Residency see:


Additional Red Tape

Cuban Citizenship

In Cuba, you can be a citizen by birth and not by nauralization, except under special circumstances (for example, Che Guevara was given Cuban citizenship). However, you can be a resident if you meet the requirements above. Cubans never lose their citizenship as well as foreigners who are permanent residendents never lose their foreign citizenship.

Passports are valid for at least 6 months beyond the length of stay required by all. Persons of Cuban origin who are nationals of other countries must travel with a Cuban passport if they left Cuba after 1970.

Exit permits:

  • Required by those whose stay in Cuba exceeds 90 days.
  • Types of visa and cost
  • Tourist Visa Card: $27. Journalist: $22. Business: $45.

Application requirements

Tourist Visa Card:

  • (a) 1 completed application form.
  • (b) Photocopy of valid passport.
  • (c) Photocopy of return ticket or travel agent voucher for pre-paid package tour.
  • (d) Fee (payable in cash, by postal order or cheque).

Business Visa:

  • (a) Valid passport.
  • (b) 1 completed application form.
  • (c) 2 passport-size photos.
  • (d) Details of business contact in Cuba.
  • (e) Letter of invitation from Cuban company, organization or institution.
  • (f) Fee (payable in cash, by postal order or cheque).

Journalist Visa:

  • (a) Valid passport.
  • (b) 2 completed application forms.
  • (c) 2 passport-size photos.
  • (d) A sponsor letter from employer and a written version of your journalistic project.
  • (e) Fee (payable in cash, by postal order or cheque).


Once a Journalist Visa has been issued and the individual must report to the Centro de Prensa Internacional for accreditation. They should take 2 photographs and US $60.

Number of work days required:

Tourist Visa Card: 1 day (7 days for postal applications). Tourist visa: 7-10 days. Business visa: 10 days (2 weeks for postal applications). Journalist visa: Up to 1 month.

Ministerio de Turismo

Calle 19, No 710, Entre Paseo y A, Vedado, Havana
Tel: (7) 334 319. Fax: (7) 334 086.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marrying a Cuban

If you are an American citizen planning to marry a Cuban citizen in Cuba, you will need to get the process right the first time to save yourself headaches down the road. Imagine planning a wedding, setting a date and then not being able to board a flight to Cuba because you don’t have the correct visa. Also imagine arriving in Cuba in and finding out you do not have the right documentation, so you cannot get married. You will have to fly back to the USA and begin the whole process all over again. This should not happen if you contact one of the firms below.

Be sure to read the section in Chapter 4 titled, “Finding Companionshp,” before you even think about marrying a Cuban. 

Please note that the American Citizen Services Unit does not assist in the filing of visa petitions for spouses or fiancés.  If, after reviewing this information, you still have questions, you must contact the Immigrant Visa Unit at (53)(7) 839-4101.

  1. Marriage certificate
  2. Birth certificate
  3. Proof of marital status
  4. And divorce if pertinent
  5. These have to be translated into Spanish and authenticated by the Cuban consulate in the country where they were issued Marriages in Cuba are recognized in the United States.

Official Guide to
Cuban Spanish

Official Guide to Cuban Spanish

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Information herein is authorized through the courtesy of Christopher Howard, author of the best selling Cuba information source, Living and Investing in the New Cuba. Please be aware that all information herein is protected by COPYRIGHT © and misuse of it will carry a penalty by law.