How to get through Customs & Security on ARRIVAL:
The following information apply for a traveller entering Cuba for tourism purposes.
- When you arrive at the Varadero Airport you are guided by Officials to enter in the Arrivals building where you can find the IMMIGRATION area. The Cuban Customs area is composed of several short enclosed halls with a booth where the Immigration Official is sitting behind a tall counter. Most Custom Officials speak some English. You have to go to the booth one person at the time, but young children can go with an adult.
- The Official will check your passport and Tourist Card (tourist visa). This Cuban Tourist Card (Visa Tarjeta del Turista) is provided by your travel agency, tour operator or airline. If you don't have one you will have to purchase it from the immigration officials upon entry, cost is 20 CUC.
- As of May 1st 2010, every person travelling to Cuba is required to have health insurance coverage in order to enter the country. Upon arrival, travelers may be required to present a proof of medical coverage valid for the period of their stay in Cuba, in the form of an insurance policy, insurance certificate, medical assistance card, etc. But you are not required to show any proof of immunizations or a vaccination card.
- As of 2013, Cuban Immigration now stamps all passports (before you had to request a stamp if you wanted one as a "souvenir" in your passport), this include Americans traveling on a direct flight from USA to Cuba with an OFAC license. However the Cuban Immigration MAY make an exception for Americans arriving from other countries (presuming they don't have OFAC license) and don't stamp their passport as a courtesy. If you are an American citizen or resident traveling to Cuba without a license then kindly ask the official not to stamp your passport, but always bear in mind that it seems to be at the discretion of each immigration official, and he/she may also forget and stamp it anyway as a force of habit.
- The Immigration Official will stamp, detach and keep the first half of your Tourist Card. You have to turn in the second half when you exit Cuba so it's VERY important not to lose the second half of your tourist card during your stay, it costs 15 CUC to replace and it could be a long and complicated process.
- After your passport and tourist card have been checked, the Custom Officer will then press a buzzer button to unlock the door beside you, exit the booth through this door.
- The next step is to get you and your carry-on baggage scanned in the x-ray machine and metal detector arch to be sure you are not carrying arms, fresh food or any other illegal items. All checked baggage are also being scanned (in another area) and sniffed by trained dogs.
- Then proceed to the baggage claim area to collect you baggage. Keep your passport, tourist card and baggage claim tags handy, you may have to show them when exiting the baggage area.
- If you have nothing to declare then proceed to the Exit doors. The Exit Customs Officers will checked if your bags was marked (after X-ray scanning) to notify them that a bag should be checked (only if they suspect something). You can then exit the terminal.
How to get through Customs & Security on DEPARTURE:
- AFTER you've checked-in at your airline's check-in counter you then have to go to the Departure Tax window to pay the 25 CUC Cuban departure tax. For more information on the departure tax click here. They will affix a stamp on you boarding pass as a proof of payment.
- You can then proceed to the Customs booths where you have to show your passport and boarding pass (with the departure tax stamp) and give back the other half of your Tourist Card. The Customs Officer will then unlock the door so you can move to the security checkpoint.
- Your carry-on bag will be scanned (X-ray machine with conveyor belt) and you have to go walk through the metal detector arch, as in any other airport.
- You can then exit the screening area to get to the Gate lounge.
SOME USEFUL WEBSITES TO VISIT: