I’ve often thought applying for a Cuban visa or a tourist card was a tricky affair but it’s actually not.
We were in the U.S. so we couldn’t apply for a visa because there weren’t any embassies in the country. I’m Filipino so I can visit Cuba legally. My two American friends cannot because of the embargo. But we did it anyway since we saw a lot of blog posts of Americans visiting Cuba. Just as long as we depart and leave from another country, there was no problem with us returning into the US.
When you get to Cuba you can ask the immigration officers not to stamp your passport. They automatically don’t stamp US passports. I got a stamp but again, it is legal for me to visit Cuba as I’m not a US citizen.
We had the following choices to apply for our visa:
- Go to Cubana Airlines (Cuba’s wonky airline) or your airline of choice to Cuba’s check-in desk and apply for the visa on the day we leave. We found Cubana Airlines usually had the cheapest fare to go to Cuba.
- Apply for a visa in Cuba’s embassies in another country. Since we were in the U.S., we could apply in Mexico, Colombia, Panama or Costa Rica.
- Apply in any of the travel agencies that do Cuban visas in those countries.
We decided to go to Bogota, Colombia because it had the cheapest fare for Havana.
We found out later that the Cubana Airlines fly twice a week in Bogota’s international airport. We decided not to get our visa through the airline though they assured us it was okay because we couldn’t confirm whether the check in desk would issue the tourist cards on the day we’re flying. We couldn’t take the risk.
We read there were long queues in the Cuban embassy so we decided to go to a travel agency in Bogota.
It was painless and I’m glad we made the right choice.
All we needed were:
- health insurance (we all bought health insurance ahead of time. Bluecross was the cheapest). If you don’t have one, the travel agency also sells affordable health insurance
- application form (the travel agency provides this)
- your photo (passport size)
- money (USD20-25)
We submitted them to the agent, waited an hour for the office and we got our tourist cards. They do not even stamp your passport with them. They just give you a small form.
Here are the addresses of the travel agencies that issues Cuban tourist cards or visa:
I think we went to CM-Tropican
– SWI Colombia SAS (Solways). Calle 94 No. 14 – 48 office 603, Bogotá.
Phone: 702 4030
Email: I email@example.com
– CM-Tropican: Avenida19 No. 7-48, Office 2204, Bogotá.
Telephone: 7440242, cel: 310 2576873
– Touram SA . Exclusive Tours. Carrera 13 No. 44-35 Of. . 1003, Bogotá
Tel .: 49 30 767/2 858573/2 328 996
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
– Sol y Brisa Tourist Representaciones Ltda. Calle 79 No. 16A-09, office 306, Bogotá.
Tel: 608 6396
Email: I firstname.lastname@example.org
– Vive Cuba : Calle 80 No. 89A-40 Local 202- 203. Primavera Plaza Shopping Center, Bogota.
Tel: 251 5624 ext. 106/490 9292/2526809/4909430
More info can be found in the Cuban Embassy site in Bogota. It’s in Spanish so just hit Translate button at the top of the browser to translate into English.
I highly recommend going to Cuba. It is like visiting a time capsule frozen during the 1960s.