Pink Cuban Tourist Card for U.S citizens

Getting a Cuba Visa (Tourist Card)  Isn’t Hard or Complicated

It’s true—traveling to Cuba as a U.S. citizen requires some planning and a few extra hurdles. But nothing you can’t handle!

One step that can trip people up is the Cuban tourist visa—or tourist card, or tarjeta de turista—which you will need to have when you arrive in Cuba. It seems complicated, but don’t worry—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.

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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 a 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, even though the U.S. doesn’t consider your trip to be “touristic in nature.” 

Why does it work like this? Because the Cuba tourist visa is not related to the U.S. government’s travel restrictions or the 12 categories of legal reasons for travel. The visa requirement is a Cuban government rule that applies to all foreigners entering the country.

Confused about visas?

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

Cuba issues two kinds of tourist visas—one is pink and one is green. Choosing the right one depends on where you are coming from, not by your national citizenship

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

If you’re a worrier, get it ahead of time to spare the nerves. Otherwise, just remember to set aside another $80-$100 USD in the budget for the departure day purchase.

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 also typically available through your airline at the airport, but where and how to get it differs depending on where you’re flying from. 

Both the pink and green visas allow you to remain in Cuba for up to 30 days and can be renewed for an additional 30 days. 

The Process of Getting a Visa Online

There are a variety of online agencies that process Cuba visas, which is just a fancy way of saying you pay them money, and they send you the visa.

It’s quite straightforward—there is no application or approval process. You simply fill in flight information, share your address and pay a fee as you would any online transaction. The visa is shipped to the physical address of your choice. We recommend reputable agencies with simple clear sites like Online Tourist Card and Easy Tourist Card, but there are lots of others out there.

Getting a Visa Through your Airline 

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

If you’re flying with American Airlines, United, Southwest, or Delta, you can get your visa at the departure gate before you board the flight for your final leg of the trip, if you choose not to get them online ahead of time

Booking Lodging? Taxis? Activities? Restaurants?

We provide Americans with resources for independent Cuba travel. Our private business guide connects you directly to Cuban shops, restaurants, planning services, activities, and more!

Filling Out the Actual Visa Card

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 citizenship. You’ll repeat this on both sides of the document—and then you’re done! Typically, one side is taken at Cuban immigration when you arrive and the remaining half is taken when you depart the island. 

Visas for Charter Flights

Whether you’re flying commercial or charter, the visas rules are the same. Some charter flights issue visas themselves or include them in the ticket price, so it’s important to contact the airline to see what if they offer it and at what price, and order one ahead of time if they don’t.  

The Bottom Line

Getting visas is easy and it really doesn’t matter where you get them, as long as you have right one. Both the pink visa and green visa are available for purchase through your airline, 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.

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!

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

Keep in mind, there are several other things you’ll need to plan a legal, hassle-free trip to Cuba. 

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, we provide meticulously curated maps and itineraries, and offer 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 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. 

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