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 must first follow the IMMIGRATION sign, the Cuban Customs area is composed of several short enclosed halls with a booth where the Customs Officer is sitting behing 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 Officer 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 (20 CUC).
As of May 1st, 2010, every person travelling to Cuba is required to have health insurance coverage to enter the country, so you may be asked to show a proof of medical coverage. But you are not required to show any proof of immunizations or a vaccination card.
The Custom Officer will NOT stamp your passport (unless you ask for it), they stamp only the Tourist card (2-part form). He/she will 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 loose 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 material. All checked baggages are also being scanned (in another area) and sniffed by drug-sniffing dogs.
Then proceed to the nearby carousel to collect you baggage. Keep your passeport, 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). Then you can 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 info on departure tax click here. They will affix a stamp on you boarding pass as a proof this tax has bee paid.
You can then proceed to the immigration booths where you have to show your passport and boarding pass (with the departure tax stamp) and give back the second half of your tourit card. The Customs Officer will then unlock the door so you can move to the screening area.
Your carry-on bag will then be scanned (X-ray machine with conveyor belt) and you have to go walk through the metal detector arch, as in any other airport.
Then go up the escalator to get to the Gate lounge.
SOME USEFUL WEBSITES TO VISIT:
Aduana Cuba, the official Cuban Customs website
Cuba Travel, the official website of the Ministerio de Turismo de Cuba (MINTUR)
Cuba Web, Cuba Portal
Click here to see other Cuban Airports