Making your way to Cuba

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Washingtonians traveling to Cuba generally is no different than traveling to any other foreign country where a person is required to apply for a Visa and have a US passport before departure.

You have to have two blank pages in your passport for entry/exit stamps.  Traveling to Cuba is still prohibited by the US government, but Americans can obtain a license from the Travel to Cuba is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the US Department of the Treasury, unless the traveler fall into one of 12 categories of authorized travel:

  1. Family visits;
  2. Official business of the US government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations;
  3. Journalistic activity;
  4. Professional research and professional meetings;
  5. Educational activities;
  6. Religious activities;
  7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions;
  8. Support for the Cuban people;
  9. Humanitarian projects;
  10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes;
  11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and
  12. Certain authorized export transactions.

If the traveler doesn’t fall into any of these area, they HAVE TO go through OFAC for authorization, and failure to do so can land you in jail.  The State Department lists this info clearly on their website:  See the Department of Treasury webpage. For travel-specific questions, please see 31 C.F.R. 515.560 and OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

(Visit the Cuban Embassy website for visa requirements. Cuba also requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which can normally be purchased at the airport upon arrival to Cuba. Questions about insurance should be directed to the Cuban Embassy.)

But if you’re a Cuban-American, be warned that Cuba doesn’t recognize their US nationality, so Cuban-born U.S. citizens may be treated as Cuban citizens – subjecting them to restrictions and obligations. They require American -born Cubans to use their Cuban passports.

And if you get caught trying to circumvent the law, you can be arrested by Cuban officials and receive a prison term between 4-30 years. More importantly, it’s best to just obey the laws in Cuba.  But if you happen to get detained/arrested for any reason, request to speak to the US Embassy in Cuba IMMEDIATELY.Travelers can check out the STATE DEPARTMENT for more info.

If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license. Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution. See the Department of Treasury webpage. For travel-specific questions, please see 31 C.F.R. 515.560 and OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Visit the Cuban Embassy website for visa requirements. Cuba also requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which can normally be purchased at the airport upon arrival to Cuba. Questions about insurance should be directed to the Cuban Embassy.

Foreign students on scholarships are required to test for HIV/AIDS.

Cuba does not recognize the U.S. nationality of Cuban-born U.S. citizens. Cuban-born U.S. citizens will be treated as Cuban citizens and may be subject to restrictions and obligations. The Cuban government requires such individuals to enter and depart Cuba using Cuban passports. Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found elsewhere on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our customs information page.

Cuban Requirements for Authorized Travelers: Attempts to enter or exit Cuba illegally, or to aid the irregular exit of Cuban nationals or other persons, are prohibited and punishable by jail. Entering Cuban territory, territorial waters or airspace without prior authorization from the Cuban government may result in arrest. Immigration violators are subject to prison terms ranging from four years to 30 years.


    U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. Bring cash to cover your stay. The Cuban government requires that travelers declare cash amounts over 5,000 USD. Travelers should note that the Government of Cuba charges a 10 percent fee for all U.S. dollar cash conversions; this does not apply to electronic transactions or cash conversions in other currencies.


    The export of Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) is strictly prohibited, regardless of the amount. Travelers may only export the equivalent of 5,000 USD in any currency other than the Cuban convertible pesos (CUC). Anyone wishing to export more than this amount must demonstrate evidence that the currency was acquired legitimately from a Cuban bank.

Though the average Cuban earns just $25 a month, and even doctors earn only $80 a month, Cuba is actually a relatively expensive place for foreigners to visit. Below, we lay out the numbers for you so that you know how to plan- and planning for your budget to Cuba is something all Americans need to do, because as of now there’s no such thing as using your ATM to get more cash. Which means you need to do some math and then bring wads of cold hard cash with you, so here’s everything you need to know about how much things cost in Cuba:

are generally competent, health facilities face shortages. Many medications are unavailable. Travelers should bring prescribed medicines in their original containers. Copies of prescriptions and letters from prescribing physicians may facilitate entry.

Travelers needing medical care generally must pay cash. The Embassy cannot pay bills. Medicare does not apply overseas, and many U.S. insurance companies do not provide international coverage. See our webpage for more information on overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Diarrheal illness is common among travelers, even in luxury accommodations. Travelers should wash their hands, drink bottled water and avoid street and undercooked food.

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Zika Virus
  • Dengue Fever

Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Price of your visa to Cuba

The airline that you are flying to Cuba with will have a set up for purchasing visas that are permitted under the 12 categories of travel (of which as a visitor, you want to be doing Educational, people-to-people). Generally, visas cost between $50-75 per person.

Price of accommodations in Cuba

If you go the route of Casa Paticulars (which I highly recommend) you can expect to pay at the very most $50 for a room for two people. Hotels are typically more expensive, and run $150-400/ night.

Price of food in Cuba

Food in restaurants in Havana is very close to prices that you would see in the US. Entrees are about $8-20, but there are also higher end places with entrees around $30. Outside of Havana, you’ll see much lower prices, at the very most about $12 per entree. Breakfast at a casa paticular is usually $6 per person. Overall, it’s best to budget about $40 per person per day for food.

Price of transportation in Cuba

Rental cars run about $80 to $100 per day for an automatic transmission car with insurance. If you’re also renting a car, expect to pay double the price of gas when compared to gas prices in the US. Private drivers run about $100 per day. Flights within the country (say Havana to Baracoa) are about $150 per person, one way. Bus tickets of course vary based on distance, but a good rule of thumb is about $3 per hour of bus travel.
Need help planning your trip to Cuba? Get in touch with us to get some insight and planning help.


Restaurants [ Edit ] Avg. Range
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant 5.00 $ 4.008.00
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course 15.00 $ 12.0060.00
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) 5.53 $ 5.007.00
Domestic Beer (1 pint draught) 1.01 $ 1.001.50
Imported Beer (11.2 oz small bottle) 2.00 $ 1.502.02
Cappuccino (regular) 1.36 $ 1.002.00
Coke/Pepsi (11.2 oz small bottle) 1.17 $ 1.002.00
Water (11.2 oz small bottle) 0.76 $ 0.501.50
Markets [ Edit ] Avg.
Milk (regular), (1 gallon) 8.37 $ 6.7510.00
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb) 0.42 $ 0.370.50
Rice (white), (1 lb) 0.36 $ 0.200.65
Eggs (12) 1.51 $ 1.202.40
Local Cheese (1 lb) 1.02 $ 0.551.36
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1 lb) 1.78 $ 0.793.63
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) 3.32 $ 1.815.00
Apples (1 lb) 1.62 $ 1.002.27
Banana (1 lb) 0.17 $ 0.100.23
Oranges (1 lb) 0.29 $ 0.200.50
Tomato (1 lb) 0.72 $ 0.351.01
Potato (1 lb) 0.65 $ 0.231.81
Onion (1 lb) 0.97 $ 0.501.36
Lettuce (1 head) 0.56 $ 0.251.00
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 0.99 $ 0.651.35
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 5.00 $ 4.858.00
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) 1.03 $ 1.001.20
Imported Beer (11.2 oz small bottle) 1.71 $ 1.252.00
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) 2.45 $ 1.953.00
Transportation [ Edit ] Avg.
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 0.20 $ 0.050.50
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 9.00 $
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) 0.81 $ 0.501.00
Taxi 1 mile (Normal Tariff) 0.80 $ 0.801.00
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) 10.00 $
Gasoline (1 gallon) 3.72 $ 3.035.00
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) 120,000.00 $
Toyota Corolla 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) 41,666.67 $ 20,000.0060,000.00
Utilities (Monthly) [ Edit ] Avg.
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment 4.49 $ 3.006.00
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans) 0.39 $ 0.321.00
Internet (10 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 155.00 $ 65.00300.00
Sports And Leisure [ Edit ] Avg.
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 6.67 $ 2.0220.00
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 8.21 $ 4.6410.00
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat 0.23 $ 0.200.25
Childcare [ Edit ] Avg.
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Private, Monthly for 1 Child ?
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child ?
Clothing And Shoes [ Edit ] Avg.
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) 30.09 $ 20.2235.00
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) 43.33 $ 20.2250.00
1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) 70.94 $ 60.0080.00
1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes 52.50 $ 30.0070.00
Rent Per Month [ Edit ] Avg.
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 600.00 $ 150.001,000.00
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 115.00 $ 80.00150.00
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 508.33 $ 325.00800.00
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 290.00 $ 160.00300.00
Buy Apartment Price [ Edit ] Avg.
Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment in City Centre 30.52 $ 18.5852.68
Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre 35.61 $ 18.5865.03
Salaries And Financing [ Edit ] Avg.
Average Monthly Disposable Salary (Net After Tax) 23.44 $
Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly 4.63 2.006.70

Prices in Cuba

These data are based on 375 entries in the past 12 months from 35 different contributors.
Last update: March, 2017
Our data for each country are based on all entries from all cities in that country.

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