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The electric current in general use is 110 volts, 60Hz. Some hotel facilities also have 220 volts. Most outlets have 2-3 prongs. It’s best to inquire about the specific properties you’ll be staying at prior to departure. Grounded outlets are rare in Cuba (especially private residences), so do take precautions and disconnect devices during thunderstorms. Most updated or new hotel builds have outlets that accept both flat and round pin plugs, but never rule out the possibility that an adapter might be required. Do be aware of outlets that use 220V, most of which should be marked.
Cuba has a moderate subtropical climate and is just below the Tropic of Cancer. Being long and narrow, on an East-West axis, it is cooled by trade winds and sea breezes.
There are only two clearly defined seasons in Cuba: the dry season, from November through April, and the rainy season, from May through October.
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Protected Areas in Cuba
Over 20% of Cuba’s national territory is protected in 211 different land and marine areas. The protected areas include:
- 14 National Parks
- 6 Biosphere Reserves
- 6 Ramsar Sites
- 2 Natural World Heritage Sites
- 21 Areas Important for Bird Conservation
The management of the 211 protected areas is categorized as follows:
- 4 Natural Reserves: These are protected areas created to preserve the natural habitat from human actions and maintain it as close as possible to its original state. Services to visitors are not offered at these sites.
- 14 National Parks: These are zones for the care, conservation, recovery or preservation of nature. They are land, marine, or a combination of both in natural or seminatural state, with spare or no human population, designated to protect ecological integrity.
- 24 Natural Protected Landscapes: These are areas in natural or semi natural states, managed with goals of protection and maintenance of natural conditions, environmental services and development of sustainable tourism. They do not possess notable value in terms of natural resources, but serve as biological corridors, maintain air quality, water, protect against erosion, and maintain esthetic values, etc. They are generally located in areas of ecological, environmental and touristic interest.
- 32 Ecological Reserves: These are ecosystems or important regions or natural scenes, in which animal and plant species, the habitat and geomorphological elements, are of special scientific, educational, recreational and touristic importance.
- 45 Fauna Refuges: These are areas where the protection and management of habitats or species are essential for the subsistence of wild fauna populations.
- 41 Managed Flora Reserves: These are natural or semi natural areas that require management interventions to ensure the protection and maintenance of natural complexes or ecosystems.
- 18 Managed Resource Protected Areas: These are areas in natural or semi natural states, whose management is to guarantee te protection and maintenance of biological diversity. They combine conservation with the sustainable use of natural resources to generate certain services that satisfy local needs.
- 33 Outstanding Natural Elements: These are areas with natural elements of great local significance. They are sometimes located within a larger protected area.
The 211 sites are listed by province and referenced with further details on the SNAP (National System for Protected Areas) website en español.
For the most current customs information and a list of accepted/prohibited items, visit Cuban Customs (English) or Aduana Cubana (Español). Besides personal items, medicines, books & articles for teaching purposes, in general the traveler can import articles for non-commercial purposes, with specific limits on the # of items in each category, after which he/she must pay the applicable import duties. Cuban residents pay the duty in national currency, and all residents in other countries pay the import levy in Cuban Convertible Pesos. Here is an additional list of items that may be prohibited or restricted for entry to Cuba by the Institute of Veterinary Medicine.
Immigration & Visas
For Canadians, you must have a passport valid for at least 1 week beyond your scheduled return date. For other nationalities, the requirement can be up to 6 months beyond entry. We suggest you check with the nearest Cuban Embassy or Consulate for the latest information. Evidence of return passage is a required prior to entry. If you have a one-way ticket, you may have to purchase a return ticket before entering Cuba. You’re also required to have a visa or tourist card unless you’re from a country with a visa waiving agreement Cuba, or were born in Cuba. Tourist (visitor) visas are generally provided (included or for purchase) with flights, but may also be purchased from the Cuban Consulate (or Cuban Embassy) nearest you, or directly from Cuban Immigration for $25 CUC upon arrival. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days, extendable for another 30 days locally in Cuba with Immigration (with purchase of stamps and evidence of outgoing passage). The same tourist visa is valid for 90 days for Canadian citizens, extendable for another 90 days locally in Cuba with Immigration (with purchase of stamps and evidence of outgoing passage). Business or journalist visas should be requested in advance from the Cuban Consulate (or Cuban Embassy) nearest you. Travelers born in Cuba must travel to Cuba on a Cuban passport, regardless of any other nationality or citizenship obtained after birth. We urge all travelers to consult with the nearest Cuban Embassy, consulate or Interests Sections for clarification regarding immigration regulations.
Cuban departure taxes are included in all international flight tickets and are no longer payable locally by travelers.
The national monetary unit is the Cuban peso. Non-residents use the convertible peso/tourist dollar (CUC) with $1.00 CUC = $1.00 USD for inter-Cuban banking transactions. Virtually all goods available to non-residents are marked in CUC. More Info
Gratuities and Tips
Purchases in Cuba
Prices are listed in CUC (convertible pesos/tourist dollars) at tourist facilities and other establishments. MasterCard, Visa, CABAL and BFI, are honored in Cuba. Cards issued by US banking institutions or their affiliates are typically not able to be used in Cuba, with the exception of the Stonegate Mastercard. It’s best to check with your credit card company before departure. Please view details of the latest information on Cuban currency.
Medical insurance coverage is obligatory for visitors to Cuba and Cuban authorities may require visitors to produce evidence of insurance coverage upon entry. Visitors without valid coverage for Cuba can purchase policies in advance or locally in Cuba on arrival.
Licensed U.S. travelers
US Insurance Companies offer their global health, life or travel insurance policy coverage to OFAC-licensed US travelers to Cuba. They require travelers to sign an affidavit indicating their Cuba travel license category in order to purchase the service.
Licensed U.S. or Unlicensed travelers (of any nationality)
Medical insurance is available upon arrival in Cuba from Asistur or ESEN (websites in Spanish only). Generally speaking, for anyone under 70, insurance costs approximately $3 CUC per day. For people over 70 the charge is approximately $5 CUC per day. They will require name, passport number and arrival/departure dates. Upon arrival in Cuba there is an airport office/desk where you can complete these arrangements prior to proceeding through Immigration. Alternatively, both companies have provincial office locations which you will find listed on their websites.