Pink Cuban Tourist Card for U.S citizens

How to Get a Cuba Tourist Visa (Tourist Card)  

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Traveling to Cuba as a U.S. citizen is easy, but it does require some planning and a few extra hurdles. One such hurdle is the Cuban tourist visa—or tourist card—which you will need to have when you arrive in Cuba. In this article, we detail everything you need to know about the two types of visas, who needs a visa, and how to get one before your trip.

Who Needs the Cuba Visa?

A tourist visa (officially called a “tarjeta de turista” or tourist card) is a requirement for virtually every foreigner entering Cuba—for tourism or for any non-specific reason (as opposed to traveling for journalism, business, government related activities, etc). 

So if you’re a U.S. citizen planning a trip to Cuba under the Support for the Cuban People category, you’re required by the Cuban government to have this visa/tourist card. 

The Cuba tourist visa is not related to the U.S. government’s travel restrictions, General License for travel, or the 12 categories of legal reasons for travel.

Confused about visas? Allow us to explain.

Our mission is to provide clear, accurate information on Cuba travel for Americans. Check out our article on visas or visit our site for more!

Two Types of Visas: Pink and Green

There are two types of visas—one is pink and one is green. Choosing the right one depends on where you are entering Cuba from (not by your national citizenship). 

If you’re entering Cuba directly from the United States, you’ll need the pink card, which you can order ahead of your trip through authorized agencies like Online Tourist Card or purchase through your airline on the day of your departure. 

If you’re entering Cuba from any country other than the U.S. you’ll need the green card, which you can order online as well. The green visa is often also available from airline representatives at the final airport prior to arriving in Cuba. 

Both visas allow visitors to remain in Cuba for 30 days and can be renewed for an additional 30 days. 

Getting a Visa Through an Authorized Online Agency

There are a variety of agencies that process visas for travel to Cuba. The process is quite straightforward—there is no application process or approval, you simply fill in flight information, pay a fee as you would any online transaction, and the visa is shipped to the physical address of your choice. Online Tourist Card and Easy Tourist Card both have good reputations and simple, clear websites.

Getting a Visa Through your Airline 

The major U.S. airlines that fly to Cuba provide visa information to travelers once flights are purchased. 

If you’re flying with American Airlines, Southwest, or Delta, visas are available for purchase at the departure gate at the airport if travelers choose not to purchase them online ahead of time

Filling out the Visa

If you have the visa shipped to you, you’ll have to fill it out ahead of time with a blue or black pen. It’s simple, there are spaces for last name, first name, DOB, passport number, and your citizenship. You’ll repeat this on both sides of the document—one side is removed by immigration officials when you arrive, and the remaining half is taken when you depart the island. 

Booking Lodging? Taxis? Activities? Restaurants?

Our mission is to provide expert advice on Cuba travel for Americans. Our private business guide connects you directly to Cuban shops, restaurants, hotels, activities, and more!

Visas for Charter Flights

Whether you’re flying commercial or charter the visas rules are the same, so getting your visa shipped to you early is always the safest bet. Some charter flights issue visas or include them in the ticket price, so it’s important to contact the airline to see what they offer and at what price.  

The Bottom Line

It doesn’t matter where you get the visa, as long as you have the pink visa when flying in from the U.S. and the green one when arriving by air from anywhere else. Both the pink visa and green visa are usually available for purchase through the airline at the airport, but for those who want the assurance of having the visa in hand ahead of time, they can be purchased online and shipped to your home ahead of your trip.

Contact Us With Questions

If you have any uncertainty around what is required, visa or otherwise, to go to Cuba, don’t hesitate to email us or schedule a call with our team. We’re Cuba travel experts, and we love to help!


Cuba Travel Requirements for U.S. Citizens

There are several other things you’ll need to plan a legal, hassle-free trip to Cuba. 

CAYOS: Cuba Travel for Americans

Our mission is to provide clear, accurate information on Cuba travel for Americans. Check out our articles or visit our site for maps, itineraries and more!

Documents You’ll Need

Before you take off, make sure you have a valid passport with plenty of time until it expires. You’ll also need to complete the official Cuban health form within 72 hours prior to your departure. 

The Cuban government also requires visitors to have proof of health insurance coverage, but if you book a flight on a U.S. airline, the required insurance is included in the price of your ticket. This insurance gives you access to Cuba’s network of tourist hospitals and clinics should you need them. 

If your flight originates outside of the U.S., you can purchase insurance independently or pay a small fee for access to Cuba’s tourist system. 

Travel Categories

If you are a U.S. citizen, you will also need to adhere to the guidelines of the General License for travel to Cuba, which allows for 12 categories of permissible travel to Cuba. We recommend using the “Support for the Cuban People” category since it allows for the widest variety of activities, including many that can be arranged without the need of a tour company. 

Planning a “Support for the Cuban People” Trip

To ensure that your trip meets the requirements, you should create an itinerary with activities that support locals and meals in private restaurants to demonstrate that your trip will be directly supporting private Cuban businesses and individuals. 

You should also avoid government run hotels—luckily there are plentiful legal, private lodging options in the form of Airbnb style vacation rentals, boutique hotels, and inexpensive no-frills rooms for rent. 

Creating an Itinerary

To meet the U.S. travel requirements for the Support for the Cuban People category, your itinerary should demonstrate that you’ve planned out a full schedule of activities for each day that you are in Cuba. You should avoid any activities that are purely touristic and don’t support local private business, like going to the beach or staying at a resort. 

Arranging guided tours and activities operated by locals is the easiest way to meet the requirements for the Support for the Cuban People category. In Havana and most major towns, there are many options for walking tours, museum tours, cooking classes, dance lessons, and other activities led by locals. 

Non-guided activities are also possible, like shopping in private stores, purchasing artwork or artisanal crafts made by private artists, or attending a show by a musician or band. However, if your schedule consists entirely of self-guided activities, you risk not being in compliance with the rules.

To help travelers, our local CAYOS team curates maps, guides and itineraries, and offers planning sessions via phone where we share expert advice. 

Departure and Return: What to Expect

Both on your way to Cuba and on your return to the US, you won’t be asked to show your itinerary and immigration officers typically ask the same types of questions that are asked of travelers returning from any foreign country. 

You may be asked a couple of routine questions about your trip, and it’s appropriate (but by no means required) to mention you were traveling under the Support for the Cuban People category. 

Documenting your Trip

It’s important to have as detailed an itinerary as possible and to take photos of your activities to keep for your records. Any receipts, ticket stubs, or other proof of your activities should be kept as well.

The U.S. government recommends that travelers keep their itinerary and any other records from their trip (like photos or receipts) for 5 years to share with the government if requested. 

More Cuba Travel Tips

Our team is dedicated to helping U.S. travelers plan safe, legal, independent Cuba travel. In addition to maps, we offer free phone consultations, customizable itineraries (coming soon) and helpful guides and articles

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