Cuba - Here We Come!
What to Expect Upon Arrival
- When you arrive at the airport in Cuba, you must first follow the IMMIGRATION sign. The Cuban Customs area is composed of several short enclosed halls with a booth where the Customs Officer is sitting behind a tall counter. Most Custom Officials speak some English. You have to go to the booth one person at a time, but young children can go through with an adult.
- The Officer will check your passport and Tourist Card. The Tourist Card is provided by your airline. If you don't have one, you will have to purchase one from the immigration officials for 20CUC.
- As of May 1, 2010 every person traveling to Cuba is required to have health insurance coverage, so you may be asked to show a proof of medical coverage. This is a random check. If you do not have coverage, you will be required to purchase it from the Cuban authorities.
- The Customs Officer will NOT stamp your passport (unless you ask for it). They only stamp the Tourist card. He/she will detach and keep the first half of your Tourist card. You have to turn in the second half when you exit Cuba so it is VERY important not to lose the second half or you will have to pay 15CUC to replace it and it could be a long and complicated process.
- Once your passport and tourist card have been checked, the Custom Office will then press a buzzer button to unlock the door beside you. Exit the booth through the door.
- The next step is to process to the scanning process where both you and your carry-on baggage will be scanned in the x-ray machine and metal detector to be sure you are not carrying arms, fresh food or any other illegal material. All checked luggage is also being scanned in another area and sniffed by drug-sniffing dogs.
- Proceed to the nearby carousel to collect your luggage. Keep your passport, tourist card and baggage tags handy as you may have to show them when exiting the baggage area.
- If you have nothing to declare, proceed to the Exit doors. The Exit Customs Officer will check to see if any of your bags were marked after X-ray scanning to notify them that a bag should be manually checked. Then you can exit the terminal.
Once you have passed through Customs you will proceed outside to meet your bus. There will be a Transat Representative standing there to greet you and direct you to the correct bus which will take you to your resort. The same bus will come and pick you up at the resort on your day of departure and deliver you back to the airport.
Now it's time to enjoy the fabulous sun and vitality of Cuba. Have Fun!
TRAVEL INSURANCE REQUIREMENT
Only in Cuba
I also suggest bringing along small packets of tissue, especially if you are going off-resort and not all public washrooms may be equipped as needed. Travel-sized tylenol, antacids, immodium, etc are also a good idea for any destination as well as a few items such as bandaids, polysporin cream, earplugs for the pool. One of the most important items to bring is LOTS of sunscreen. At least two full bottles per person/per week is suggested, as well a good hat and coverup. Bubba mugs - thermal insulated mugs - are very popular with Canadians and will keep your drinks cold and frosty all day in the hot sun!
CURRENCY IN CUBA
Cuban currency can ONLY be purchased in Cuba.
1. Can Cuban pesos be purchased/exchanged at the airport upon arrival? If so, I imagine there would be too long a line up for everyone to get them. Yes Cuban pesos can be purchased upon arrival at the airport. The line ups are not too bad and it is recommended that you exchange at least a few Cuban pesos so that you can tip, etc until such time as you can make your way to a bank.
2. Is there a money exchange at our resort where we can purchase/exchange Cuban pesos? Yes there is, however always check the rate of exchange at the resort against the bank exchange wherever possible.
3. Will we need cash to purchase/exchange Cuban pesos? You can purchase Cuban pesos with either cash or a credit card. Canadian dollars are preferable over American as you will charged an exchange of 10% on the USD.
4. Can travelers cheques (excluding American Express) be used to purchase/exchange Cuban pesos. Travelers cheques are not recommended
5. As there are no ATM machines; is it possible to use a bank debit card at money exchanges to purchase/exchange Cuban pesos? There ARE ATM’s in Cuba, however they are not readily available. They will only accept debit cards associated with a Visa or Mastercard. I would NOT rely on your debit card as the only means to access money as you could find yourself struggling to find one.
6. If a bank debit card can be used; would it have to be at a bank or could it be done at an exchange in the resort? See above. Credit cards and/or cash are the best options. Resorts will generally not accept debit cards to exchange funds. You would need to go to a bank or cadeca for this and it is best to use a Visa debit card.
7. Can credit cards (excluding American Express) be used at the resort to purchase excursions? Yes, Credit cards can be used at resort to make any purchases, including excursions. Most tour operators will also accept Visa debit cards
8. Can credit cards be used at the resort to get cash advances? Some resorts can advance cash on your credit cards at the front desk. You will need to verify with your particular resort upon check in as this can change. It is recommended that you bring cash and credit cards with sufficient access to sustain you during your holiday. Alternatively, you can request cash advances on your credit card at any of the International banks in town. Be sure to bring your passport along anytime you are dealing with a bank/resort/cadeca to exchange or request your money.