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Entry to Cuba: Visas & Travel Requirements

Traffic by the Capitol building, Havana

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Stay updated with the latest travel information for your trip to Cuba!

Embarking on a journey to Cuba? Here's your guide to the latest visa requirements and travel protocols. Whether you're coming from North America, Europe, or elsewhere, we've got you covered.

canada travel to cuba

Cuba visa application form

What are the visa and entry requirements to Cuba?

US Citizens

Planning a trip to Cuba as a US citizen? There are special regulations you need to be aware of. While tourism trips to Cuba aren't yet authorized, general licenses have been issued for a variety of travel categories. If you meet the requirements of the general license under which they plan to travel, you won't need to apply for another permit from the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department) for your trip.

However, it's important to note that the US Embassy in Havana and the State Department in Washington D.C do not process visa applications for trips to Cuba. If you need to apply for a visa or have any questions regarding your specific case, you should contact the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C.

And remember, certain activities may not be allowed, so it's best to check with the US embassy for information on organizations or businesses in Cuba that U.S. citizens are not allowed to engage with due to economic sanctions or other legal restrictions.

Canadian Citizens

As a Canadian citizen, you'll need a valid passport for the duration of your stay in Cuba. Make sure your passport's expiration date isn't near to avoid any travel hiccups. Depending on your trip's purpose, you may need different types of visas. If you're traveling as a tourist, you'll need a tourist visa, which can be obtained from tour operators, airlines, or a Cuban government office in Canada.

European Citizens

If you're a European citizen planning to travel to Cuba, remember that visa protocols can vary depending on your country of residence. For most European citizens, a valid passport is required during your stay in Cuba. Some countries, like Spain, require the passport to be valid for at least 6 months.

It's also important to note that if you plan to travel to the United States after visiting Cuba, you'll need a visa. This is because the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) is not sufficient for those who have traveled to Cuba before. This visa must be obtained at the Consulate General of the US Embassy in your place of residence.

Given the varying requirements, it's a good idea to contact your tour operator or travel agency to understand the specific visa requirements for your travel.

Latin American Citizens

For Latin American citizens, a valid passport is required during your stay in Cuba. You'll also need to obtain a tourist visa or tourist card for your trip. This can be processed at tourism agencies or airlines, which usually handle its issuance.

The visa is generally issued for about 90 days and can then be extended. It's also important to note that you should have travel insurance with medical coverage. 

Visa Costs: What to Expect

Visa costs can vary depending on where it's issued. Generally, prices range between $20 and $80. If you apply online, additional charges may apply, and prices can range from $110 to $150.

canada travel to cuba

Jose Marti International Airport in Havana

What items can I bring to Cuba?

When packing for your trip to Cuba, you can bring personal effects, including personal phones and computers, free of charge. The range of objects you can bring to Cuba is quite wide, from musical instruments to televisions. However, some items may be subject to charges depending on Customs regulations.

Some items can be brought into the country without having to pay any import taxes. These include used personal objects, art and literature books, music discs, manufactured pharmaceutical products, and wheelchairs, among others.

However, it's crucial to be aware of prohibited items. While some of these, like explosives, drugs and narcotics, and blood derivatives, may seem obvious, others might surprise you. For instance, literature, articles or objects that are considered obscene, pornographic or that attack the general interests of the nation are also prohibited.

If you attempt to bring into the country articles that are not allowed for import, the General Customs of Cuba can exercise administrative sanctions. This means that Customs can seize those imported articles whose entry is prohibited in Cuba, as well as products that have been entered with a fraudulent declaration.

canada travel to cuba

Travelers on a beach in Varadero

Photo: Unsplash

Health and Vaccinations

Before you embark on your journey to Cuba, it's important to ensure you're up to date with routine vaccines. This includes vaccines against chickenpox, tetanus, influenza, rubella, and polio. In the current climate, being vaccinated against COVID-19 is also essential.

Additionally, consider getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. If your trip to Cuba includes exploring nature or venturing into rural areas away from the city center for activities such as outdoor camping, the rabies vaccine is also recommended. Travelers are also advised to consider the typhus vaccine.

Can I bring my pet to Cuba?

If you're planning to bring your pet to Cuba, there are a few requirements you need to meet. Make sure your pet has the necessary vaccines and an official health certificate. You'll also need to request a travel certificate for your pet from the Consulate or Embassy of Cuba in your country.

Written by Teresita Padrón .

Published July 2023.

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Tour Republic

Travelling to Cuba from Canada: The Complete Guide (2023)

Cuba has historically been one of the top travel destinations for Canadians. For example, in 2019, travelling to Cuba from Canada accounted for more than 9% of all oversea trips by Canadians . Canada also remains the leading source country for international tourists to Cuba, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cuba is popular among Canadians because of its breathtaking beaches and natural spots, rich history, and delightful culture and traditions . It also helps that Cuba is relatively cheap compared to other all-inclusive destinations in the Caribbean. 

Unlike their American neighbours who want to travel to Cuba , Canadians are not subject to tight restrictions and legal complications. However, the island may still be a puzzle for Canadian travellers. 

For example, the Cuban currency system is complex and ever-changing. There are health risks and precautions that you should consider. Getting connected to the internet is challenging. Local transportation is a hassle. Shortages and blackouts can complicate your trip. 

This article will cover the specifics of travelling to Cuba from Canada, what to expect, and the insider tips you should follow.

Is Cuba Open For Travel From Canada?

Is Cuba Open for Travel from Canada

Cuba’s borders are open to all travellers from all countries, including Canada. As long as Canadians comply with the island’s entry requirements , they can enter the country.

Entry Requirements to Cuba

When you travel to Cuba from Canada, you must fulfill the following entry requirements.

Current valid Canadian passport

Your passport has to have a minimum of 6 months of validity before you arrive on the island.

Travel health insurance

Travel health insurance for Cuba has been a requirement since 2010. You will need to purchase it in advance. 

Canadians can pick their best travel insurance options for Cuba on Insubuy , a travel insurance marketplace. Consider that trip protection benefits such as trip cancellation or interruption coverage, delayed or lost baggage insurance, etc., are not required and sometimes not offered at all for Canadians travelling to Cuba.

Cuba Tourist Card

The Cuba Tourist Card is the equivalent of a tourist visa. All travellers to the country are required to get one before arrival. 

Cuban Tourist Cards come in two colours: pink and green. If you are travelling to Cuba from Canada, you will need the green one. Cuba requires the pink Cuba Tourist Card for visitors who make a pit stop in the US before arriving. 

If your Cuba Tourist Card is not included in the flight ticket, the most convenient way to get it is through EasyTouristCard , an established provider of Cuban visas. 

Canadians can stay for up to six months as a tourist in Cuba. However, you must ask for an extension of your stay from immigration authorities if you intend to stay longer than 90 days.

Entry Forms

Canadians travelling to Cuba must complete and present the entry forms required by Cuban Customs and the Ministry of Public Health. 

Please, fill out the entry forms on D’Viajeros before checking in at the airport! 

COVID-19 Restrictions in Cuba

Is Cuba Safe - Covid-19

As of April 2022, Cuba has lifted most of its COVID-19 travel restrictions . To enter the country, no PCR test or proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required. Also, face masks are no longer mandatory. 

However, protecting yourself from COVID-19 and other diseases requires you to continue using preventative measures. Specifically, wash your hands often, maintain social distancing, and use face masks in crowded places. Because personal hygiene products are hard to find in Cuba, we recommend you bring your hand sanitiser and face masks to the island. 

The Best Time to Go to Cuba for Canadians

The best time for Canadians to visit Cuba is during the dry season, between November and April. Most Canadians visit Cuba from December to March when the weather is best, mosquitoes are less annoying, and hurricanes are rare.

On the other hand, the rainy season (May to October) is the cheapest time to travel to Cuba, except for July and August. If you are a budget-savvy traveller, you may want to travel to Cuba during the rainy season. However, consider that the weather during this time is much hotter and more humid, mosquitoes can be a problem, and hurricanes are a constant threat.

Is Cuba Safe for Canadians?

Cuba is one of the safest travel destinations for Canadians. Violent crimes against tourists are rare, although petty crimes include pickpocketing, currency scams, and theft. Solo female travellers may also be subject to harassment, verbal abuse, and catcalling. 

While in Cuba, take basic safety measures:

  • Write down the emergency lines – Police: 106; Fire Department: 105; Canadian Embassy in Cuba: +53 7204-2516.
  • Exchange your money at official exchange offices (CADECA) or with people you trust.
  • Don’t carry too much cash with you. Get an anti-theft bag or a money belt for travel .
  • Avoid the slums.
  • Hire reputable tour guides – check out our tours .
  • Don’t give money to people on the streets. 
  • Protect your luggage with a TSA lock . 
  • Use your common sense!

Health Risks and Precautions

The most threatening health risks for Canadians travelling to Cuba are contaminated tap water, mosquito-borne diseases, and food poisoning. 

Pollution, poor sanitation, and crumbling pipes are the leading causes of water contamination in Cuba. Tap water in Cuba is unsafe, and you should always drink bottled water. However, bottled water may be hard to come by, so take a water filter bottle with you!

Outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases in Cuba are also quite common, especially Dengue fever . Take as many precautions as possible to prevent infection, including wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and using insect repellent .

Finally, be aware that visitors to Cuba may be at risk of food poisoning . Please, refrain from buying food from street vendors and eating undercooked meat and seafood. Also, to avoid ciguatera poisoning, consider limiting the consumption of reel fish and high-risk fish such as barracuda or moray eel. 

To be prepared for any potential health emergency, get health insurance and bring an all-purpose first aid emergency kit .

Learn more about drinking water and food in Cuba in our food safety guide ! 

Cuban Currency Basics for Canadians

Cuba Travel Tips - Cuban Currency

The official Cuban currency is known as the Cuban Peso (CUP). Cubans also use Moneda Libremente Convertible (MLC), a digital currency for the so-called “dollar stores”.

However, as a Canadian tourist, you will pay for almost everything in Cuban Pesos. The complexity of the currency system is one of the most frustrating facts about Cuba . Let’s go over it a little bit more.

The CUP comes in bills ranging from 1 peso to 1000 pesos. It is a good idea to carry small denominations so that you will have no problem getting change for cheap street food, market items, and fare for the bus.

Because of the migration crisis on the island, the Cuban Peso is significantly devalued relative to foreign currencies, including the Canadian Dollar. The crisis gave birth to an informal currency exchange market where you can sell one CAD for as much as 120 CUP. For reference, the official CAD to CUP exchange rate is 1 CAD = 85.6 CUP.

This means you can get a ton more Cuban Pesos if you exchange your Canadian Dollars in the informal market. However, be aware that currency scams are not uncommon! Exchange the money with locals you trust. 

To exchange your CADs at the official exchange rate, you must go to CADECA’s office, available at most resorts and airports.

Canadian travellers can also use credit cards in Cuba at some facilities, as long as American banks did not issue them. Yet, keep in mind that Cuba is primarily a cash country.

Finally, when it comes to ATMs, you must know that they are scarce and unreliable. So, please don’t count on them everywhere you go on the island. They also charge between a 3 and 12% fee per transaction!

Budget for Travelling to Cuba from Canada

A typical seven-day trip from Canada to Cuba may cost roughly between 1,000 and 3,000 CAD, including flights and accommodation. Obviously, your final trip to Cuba cost can go lower or higher depending on the season, your activities, and the accommodation type. 

Use a flight search engine such as Skyscanner to find affordable flights that will take you to Cuba from Canada. The price of plane tickets fluctuates depending on the time you plan to visit. Generally, you should figure the price at least 400 CAD and as high as 1000 CAD.

Booking your lodging can be very affordable, especially if staying in “casas particulares” (private rooms) or Airbnb in Cuba . “Casas particulares” can be as cheap as 20 CAD/night and offer the experience of interacting with welcoming Cuban hosts, who can even cook for you. 

However, if you are in beach mode, you will probably be better at an all-inclusive resort. Beach resorts are way more expensive than “casas particulares”, but they offer beach access, luxury accommodations, and upscale service. 

To find good resorts or even “casas particulares”, head to Skyscanner , which aggregates offers from multiple lodging providers on the island. 

Internet Access in Cuba for Tourists

Getting connected to the internet in Cuba is becoming less troublesome for the Cuban people, but it’s still a hassle for visitors. 

Internet access in Cuba is slow, limited, and unreliable. You also have just a few options to get connected: 

  • Getting the NAUTA card , which you can use at hotels, airports, ETECSA internet salons, and public WiFi hotspots. 
  • Using your internet provider’s roaming service in Cuba (if available).
  • Buying a SIM Card from international providers, such as OneSimCard and CelloMobile . 
  • Getting the CubacelTur SIM card . 

All these options have pros and cons that you should consider. For more on this, read our guide to getting internet access in Cuba .

Transportation in Cuba

Transportation in Cuba - State Taxis

Now that your flight from Canada has landed in Cuba, you need to figure out how to get from one place to another. You have several options, such as renting a car, taking the bus, or hiring a private taxi. 

Below are a few of the most popular methods to get around Cuba.

Pre-booked transfers

Although pricier than other options, pre-booked transfers are the most reliable, safest, and comfortable way to move between cities. 

You can book transfers or rides in modern or classic cars, which are air-conditioned and generally in great condition. For some ideas, check out our transfer offers . 

Private taxis

Many of the taxis you will find in Cuba will be private. Major cities such as Havana and Santiago de Cuba have many of them. Here are the most popular private taxis in the country.

Shared taxis (Collectivos/Almendrones)

Shared taxis, commonly known as “almendrones”, operate on fixed routes. They are particularly popular in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. You will recognise them by their bright colours and 1950s design with a window holding the taxi sign.

Almendrones are the cheapest option to travel within a city or between nearby towns on the island. However, you will share the ride with other passengers, which may be very uncomfortable. 

These taxis are run by the government. They are modern cars painted yellow and have a distinguishable taxi sign.

You can either negotiate a price or have the metre used. If you want to pay less, then negotiating the price will be best. 

These are colourful classic Chevys that charge 40-60 CAD per hour. They are in excellent condition and are more comfortable than the “almendrones”. However, they are expensive. Only tourists can pay for the luxury of being driven around Havana in a convertible Grancar. 

For a better understanding of the classic car culture on the island, read our guide to classic cars in Cuba . 

A Coco Taxi is a motorised vehicle that can accommodate up to three people. They are popular with visitors in major tourist cities, especially Havana, Varadero, and Trinidad. The Cuban people call them “coco taxis” because they look like a coconut. 

You should hire a Coco Taxi only for short rides within the city. Feel free to negotiate the price in advance, which starts at 2 CAD. 

Public buses (“guaguas”)

Public buses, also known as “guagas”, are one of the cheapest ways to move around cities and towns. They will cost less than a dime. However, public buses in Cuba are notoriously crowded and in bad condition. They are not recommended. 

Intercity buses

Astro and Viazul are the two companies that run buses between cities. Astro buses are generally for locals because they are cheaper. The downside is Astro buses are harder to get a seat on, older, and less reliable than Viazul buses. 

Viazul buses are generally more suited for visitors . They offer better comfort, are relatively cheap, and can be pre-booked (recommended) on its website . 

Intercity trucks

Locals also use large trucks (“camiones”) for intercity transportation. They are super cheap but very uncomfortable and unsafe. As a tourist, you definitely shouldn’t ride on one of these. 

Trains in Cuba are slow, old, unreliable, lack AC, and are hard to get on. Although safe, trains in Cuba are in an inferior condition. Even locals want to avoid them at all costs. 

However, in 2019 Cuba started renovating the rail system and acquired brand-new Chinese-built trains that are already available for some intercity routes. Check out the latest developments in train travel in Cuba in Seat61 . 

Domestic flights

Cubana de Aviacion is the only airline that offers domestic flights in Cuba. It’s difficult and expensive to book these flights. Your best chance is to book them through the airline’s website . However, please don’t count on it. 

Renting a Car in Cuba

Car Rental Company in Cuba

Renting a car in Cuba is expensive and must be done well in advance. The best option is to book it online on sites such as Holiplus . 

Renting a basic model car in Cuba starts at 65 CAD per day with an additional daily insurance fee of 28 CAD. On top of these, other charges may involve gas, drop-off fees, and any other drivers. If you are renting a car during the high season, it can get even more expensive. 

You will pick up and drop off your car at an office of a car rental company in the country: Havanautos, Cubacar, Rex, or Via Rent A Car. Although you may find websites on the internet that claim to belong to these companies, the truth is that they don’t offer online bookings. 

We generally don’t recommend renting a car in Cuba because it’s costly and burdensome. Additionally, parking is hard to find, and driving in Cuba is not exactly safe.

Driving in Cuba

Road conditions are deplorable . They lack maintenance, are poorly lit, and road signs and traffic lights are scarce. 

On top of that, you will have to deal with pedestrians who don’t give way to vehicles, animals lose on the road, and aggressive driving. 

GPS is also unavailable, so you either download the offline maps from Google Maps or buy a StreetSmart map of Cuba . 

The Essential Packing List for Cuba

There are a few indispensable items that you should bring with you from Canada. They will help you deal with extreme heat, bugs, and the unexpected. These items are also hard to find on the island:

  • First aid kit
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Water filter bottle
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Travel guide
  • Spanish-English phrasebook

Review our ultimate packing guide for Cuba for more on this. 

Other Cuba Travel Tips for Canadians

Travelling to Cuba from Canada will definitely be a memorable trip. But, like any other developing country, Cuba faces economic and political challenges that can impact your travel experience. Here are a few quick tips to prevent stressful situations and make the most of your trip to Cuba:

  • Shortages of food, fuel and medications are widespread . 
  • There are long lines everywhere. 
  • Blackouts are common .
  • Don’t take photographs of military or police facilities.
  • Don’t talk about politics.
  • Don’t expect the entire restaurant menu to be available.
  • Don’t expect top-quality service. 
  • Tipping in Cuba is expected.

For even more detailed and practical tips, browse our list of 58 travel tips for Cuba . 

Overwhelmed Much?

As you can see, when you travel to Cuba from Canada, there is a lot to consider as you plan your trip. 

However, please don’t fret about it! If you made it through here, you are way more informed than the typical tourist. We are sure you will find these tips very helpful during your stay. Yes? No? Let us know your thoughts below!

Essential Travel Logistics For Cuba

Cuban Tourist Card –  If your  Cuban Tourist Card (a.k.a Cuban Tourist Visa)  isn’t bundled into your airline ticket or travel package, buy it only through  EasyTouristCard . 

Travel Health Insurance –  Travel medical insurance is an entry requirement for Cuba, so you can’t skip it. Travelers can get travel health insurance for Cuba via  Insubuy . Travel protection benefits such as trip interruption and cancellation, baggage delay insurance, etc., are not required.

Essential Items to Pack –  Bring the essential travel necessities that you may not be able to get in Cuba:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Water bottle with filter
  • Pin adapter (for Europeans)
  • Suggested Reading: The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times

Read our complete packing list for Cuba .

Find Accommodations –  Find hotels or casas particulares (private accommodations) on Skyscanner , which lists thousands of accommodations available in Cuba.

Book Your Flight –  Book cheap flights to Cuba on Skyscanner , our favorite flight search engine to find deals on flights to Cuba.

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About the Author

Tour republic.

Tour Republic is a marketplace where you can discover, book, and review the very best experiences Cuba has to offer. We are a team of tourism professionals and journalists who have partnered with Cuban entrepreneurs to provide travel experiences that can transform your trip into a life-changing adventure. We also share our profound love for Cuba through in-depth travel guides, myth-busting articles, and captivating narratives. Whether you want to explore Cuba's wonders or understand its intricacies, our blog posts are your gateway to the heart of this extraordinary country.

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Solo women travellers aren’t subjected to verbal abuse. I travel solo and I really only stay on the island with the locals. I walk around at all hours alone. I’ve never once encountered a rude Cuban. Cubans know how important tourism is for their survival. They won’t risk it. I’ve even asked close friends why they don’t hate us for coming and taking all the food at the hotels and they say it’s not our fault. But Cubans are really poor. Please tip whenever you can. They make the equivalent of $1 a day but a 1L bottle of cooking oil is about $10. So they have to work 10 days just to be able to cook with oil. Deodorant is $5. They suffer a lot. Way worse than we could ever imagine

I think you have the pink/green visa requirements mixed up on this page.

According to the page on this site that you link to, AND the easytouristcard.com site that you link to, CANADIANS NEED THE GREEN VISA, and Americans or those passing through America on their way need the pink visa.

Hi Mark, You are correct. Thanks for the heads up. Just updated the information provided.

Hi, have a question. Can I go to U.S.A. after visiting cuba or should I get a visa after that? I am asking because I live in Italy and European citizens can apply for ESTA easily to go to U.S.A once they visit Cuba than this is not enough anymore and they must have a visa.

Cuba isn’t stamping Passports anymore because of this. My kids and mom were quite disappointed that they didn’t get one for their first trip out of the country.

Love this site…👍 Been to Cuba many times and love Habana and Cayo Coco…friendly people, staff and locals… I will never cease to visit Cuba…Id like to live there.

Do you really need insurance as did not buy but booked trip?

Really? You like to live under a Totalitarian Regimen? Go to Cuba and live La Vida Loca. You don’t even imagine what’s going on in these beautiful beaches and hotels; The Junta is forcing young women into prostitution and destroying unique echological niches. Actually I’m working in a video, in where victims of sexual exploitation denounced abuses of High Ranked Officers of the Cuban Army, the owner of these hotels, and beaches. I can’t believe such… better don’t say it or they will censor my comment. Just go and stay there.

Thank you for the information. We have been to Cuba before and do understand they have been through a tough time.

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How to Travel to Cuba If You Are an American

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 Kriangkrai Thitimakorn / Getty Images 

Travel to Cuba for American citizens has been a back-and-forth battle over the past few decades, and as of June 2019, tighter restrictions have been placed on travelers and tourists hoping to visit this Caribbean island.

Travelers must now declare themselves as making a trip that falls under one of 12 categories of travel. This means that tourists may no longer travel to Cuba in the "people to people" category, and those that do make it to Cuba are no longer allowed to support businesses that help fund the Cuban military. Additionally, the Trump administration further banned cruise ships and ferries from transporting Americans to the islands in June of 2019.

In order to book a flight to Cuba or lodging in the country now, you must now declare which category of travel you'll be making first, and as Americans still cannot simply book a flight and head to Cuba, most U.S. citizens will have to go through a process to make it to this country—unless they are part of a protected group still permitted to travel there.

New Legislation and Getting a Visa: Who Can Travel

Legal individual travel has always required that citizens fall under one of the 12 categories of permitted travel to Cuba, a rule already in place before Trump's November 2017 edict. Now, however, the requirement is legally binding and you'll need to document your activities to prove you were there for legitimate reasons (other than tourism).

According to the  U.S. Embassy in Cuba's official website , trips may be completed for: 

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • Educational activities
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  • Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines

In order to get a travel visa to Cuba, neither the U.S. Embassy in Havana nor the U.S Department of State in Washington, D.C. process applications, so you'll instead need to apply through the Cuban Embassy in D.C.

Booking Hotels and Logistics of Visiting Cuba

Because of the Trump administration's policy banning American support of military-funded establishments, paired with hurricanes that ravaged the island in 2017, booking a hotel room can be a challenge.

According to officials from the Trump administration, these new restrictions in Cuba were not meant to stop tourism of the country but to "direct money and economic activity away from the Cuban military and security services" and toward businesses owned by Cuban citizens.

Essentially, these new laws hope to encourage visitors to eat at local restaurants, stay in local hotels (or private homes), and buy from local businesses—just make sure you never go to any restricted businesses or you could be fined or arrested upon return to the United States.

While Trump has discouraged travel to Cuba with these new restrictions, it's still possible to go and enjoy the rich culture of this island. However, since relations between the United States and Cuba are suffering under the Trump administration, be well prepared before you go. Be sure to bring enough cash for your entire trip as accessing American funds in Cuba—as well as exchanging them to the Cuban peso—is rather difficult.

Going Solo to Cuba

Although the 2017 restrictions still allowed cruise ships and authorized tour groups to arrange hotels, transportation, meals, and an itinerary that complies with federal regulations, the 2019 edict prohibited these from arranging travel for tourists seeking to visit Cuba as tourists.

Going solo now, you'll need a passport and a reason for being there that doesn't involve tourism. You'll need to make your own hotel and transport arrangements, of course, and a working knowledge of Spanish can help, too. However, the island nation already has experience handling international tourists, so there is more than minimal tourist help already in place.

The changes in Cuba policy don't apply to travelers from elsewhere in the world, and Cuba is among the most popular Caribbean destinations for travelers from Canada and Europe. A number of international hotel companies, such as  Riu ,  Iberostar , and  Melia , have built large resorts in Cuban destinations like Varadero that meet the expectations of savvy global travelers. More than two million tourists now visit Cuba annually.

Traveling by U.S. Commercial Airlines

Although some top U.S. airlines bid over the right to fly to Cuba in 2016, the 2017 restrictions have all but eliminated commercial airline travel between the two countries. Charter flights that largely originate in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa still remain travelers' best option for getting to Cuba by air from the U.S. It is highly unlikely that Cuba's airlines will begin offering flights to the U.S. anytime soon, as they would have to overcome significant regulatory hurdles in order to do so. Beginning in late 2019, U.S.-based carriers will only fly in and out of Havana. To visit other Cuban cities, you will have to travel by land within the country.

Flying From Canada, Cancun, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica

If you don't want to wait for U.S. airlines to start flying to Cuba, or you want to combine a visit to Cuba with a trip to a different Caribbean island, you have options, and not just to Havana but also a wide range of  Cuban destinations .

Currently, Air Canada flies between Toronto and Havana and Varadero, Cuba, while Cubana—Cuba's national airline—has service between Toronto and Montreal and Havana, Varadero, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, and Holguín, and COPA Airlines also has daily Toronto-Havana flights.

Cancun  has long been the gateway of choice for Americans looking to visit Cuba without attracting the attention of U.S. Customs officials, and even though restrictions have tightened, you can still fly Cubana from Cancun to Havana. Cayman Airways also has flights to Havana from  Grand Cayman  and  Jamaica .

Using the Havana Embassy

The  U.S. Embassy in Havana  reopened in August 2015, as full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States have been restored. Although the relationship is now strained thanks to the Trump administration, this embassy will still help American citizens in Cuba in a variety of different ways.

Services offered at the U.S. Embassy in Havana include processing applications for new U.S. passports, renewing expired passports, or replacing stolen passports as well as registering U.S. citizens living in, traveling to, or born in Cuba.

The U.S. Embassy also provides federal income tax forms, services to notarize documents to be used in the United States, and limited assistance to U.S. citizen prisoners in Cuba as well as assistance in the shipment of remains of deceased U.S. citizens back to the United States or coordinating medical evacuations for U.S. citizens.

In an emergency situation, the U.S. Embassy will also assist in wiring money to citizens, but don't count on this option to help you if you simply run out of funds while visiting Cuba.

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Find out if you need a visa to travel to Canada

Most people need a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada - not both. Some people may only need their valid passport. Answer a few questions to see what's right for you.

See all entry requirements by country/territory

Sample passport information page highlighting three letter country code

You can find the country code on your passport. Be careful when you select your country. Some countries have multiple options and codes are quite similar.

Answer yes if you’re a citizen of Canada and another country.

canada travel to cuba

Look on the front cover of your passport for the symbol of a rectangle with a circle in the middle. If you see this symbol, you have an electronic passport.

Answer: You need a visitor visa

For visits of up to 6 months for most purposes. Cost: CAN $100

Get details about visitor visa Opens in a new tab

Answer: You need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

For visits of up to 6 months or to transit via a Canadian airport. Cost: CAN $7

Get details about eTA Opens in a new tab

Answer: You need a valid Canadian passport

You need a  valid Canadian passport  to travel to Canada by air (board your flight).

Exception: If you’re an American-Canadian dual citizen with a valid U.S. passport, you don’t need a Canadian passport to fly to Canada. However, you still need to  carry proper identification Opens in a new tab  and meet the basic requirements to enter Canada Opens in a new tab .

Get details about travelling as a dual Canadian citizen Opens in a new tab

Answer: You need a valid passport or travel document to travel to Canada by car, train, bus or boat

If you decide to fly to a Canadian airport instead, you'll need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Learn about documents you may need Opens in a new tab

Answer: You need official proof of status in the U.S.

Lawful permanent residents of the U.S. must present these documents for all methods of travel to Canada:

  • a valid passport from their country of nationality (or an equivalent acceptable travel document ) and
  • a valid green card (or equivalent valid proof of status in the United States)

Answer: You need a transit visa 

To connect between 2 international flights, in less than 48 hours. Cost: Free

Note: If you have more than 48 hours between international flights OR if you decide to visit Canada, you need to apply for a visitor visa.

Get details about transit visa Opens in a new tab

Answer: You can apply for a parent and grandparent super visa to visit for more than 6 months

  • The super visa is for visits of 5 years at a time .
  • a letter from your child or grandchild with a promise to financially support you for the duration of your visit in Canada.
  • More information on approved insurance providers outside of Canada will be available in the coming months.
  • be valid for at least 1 year from the date of entry to Canada
  • provide at least $100,000 in emergency coverage.
  • You must apply for a super visa from outside Canada.
  • Cost: CAN $100

Note : If you don't meet the criteria for a super visa, you need to apply for a visitor visa.

Get details about super visa Opens in a new tab

Note : If you don’t meet the criteria for a super visa, you need to apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA). An eTA allows for visits of up to 6 months.

Note : If you don’t meet the criteria for a super visa, you can visit Canada for up to 6 months with a valid identity document. Bring identification such as a valid passport. Or, if a member of an official program such as Nexus, you may present your valid membership card.

If you don’t meet the criteria for a super visa, you can visit Canada for up to 6 months with

  • a valid passport from your country of nationality (or an equivalent acceptable travel document Opens in a new tab ) and
  • official proof of lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., such as a green card

Answer: You need a valid identity document

Bring identification such as a valid passport. Or, if a member of an official program such as Nexus, you may present your valid membership card.

Learn about the documents you may need Opens in a new tab

Answer: If we approve your study permit application, we’ll issue a visitor visa

  • You don’t need to submit a separate application for a visitor visa.

When you travel to Canada, bring your

  • letter of introduction that says your study permit application is approved, if you received one
  • valid passport that has your visitor visa stuck to one of its pages

Learn about studying in Canada Opens in a new tab

Answer: You should already have a valid visitor visa

We automatically issued a  visitor visa to you when we approved your first study or work permit.

If you leave and return to Canada,  you must travel with:

  • your valid study or work permit
  • If you don’t have a valid visa when you check-in for a flight, it may result in travel delays (or a missed flight).
  • your valid passport

Exception : If you return directly from a visit only to the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you don’t need a valid visitor visa if your study or work permit is still valid.

If your visa has expired or was only valid for a single entry to Canada

You need to  apply for a new visa Opens in a new tab .

  • A visa costs CAN$100.
  • It’s valid for up to 10 years.

If your study or work permit will expire soon, you must extend it before you can apply for a new visitor visa.

You need a visitor visa to leave and return to Canada.  Apply for your visa before you leave.

You can apply for a visitor visa from inside Canada if you meet all the conditions below:

  • you’re already in Canada
  • you hold a valid study or work permit
  • you want to  leave and return to Canada  in the near future
  • your existing  visitor visa Opens in a new tab  is expired or was valid for only one entry

Exception : If you return  directly  from a visit only to the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you don’t need a valid visitor visa if your study or work permit is still valid.

Processing times vary by country.  You may need to  give fingerprints and photo (biometrics) Opens in a new tab  with your application. Processing times  don’t include  the time you need to give biometrics.

Apply for a visitor visa Opens in a new tab

You need a  visitor visa  to travel to Canada.

A visitor visa:

  • is a sticker we put in your passport
  • costs CAN$100

Processing times vary by country.  You may need to  give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics) Opens in a new tab  with your application. Processing time  doesn’t include  the time you need to give biometrics.

Answer: Before you continue, find out if you need a study permit

You’ll need to answer some questions on another page to find out.

If you’re eligible to study without a study permit, you’ll need to come back to this page to find out what you need to travel to Canada.

Find out if you need a study permit Opens in a new tab

Answer: If we approve your work permit application, we’ll issue a visitor visa for you

  • letter of introduction that says your work permit application is approved, if you received one

Learn about working in Canada Opens in a new tab

We automatically issued a  visitor visa to you when we approved your first work permit.

Processing times vary by country.  You may need to  give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics)  with your application. Processing time  doesn’t include  the time you need to give biometrics.

Apply for a visitor visa

Answer: Before you continue, find out if you need a work permit

If you’re eligible to work without a work permit, you’ll need to come back to this page to find out what you need to travel to Canada.

Find out if you need a work permit Opens in a new tab

Answer: If we approve your study permit application, we’ll issue an electronic travel authorization (eTA)

  • You don’t need to submit a separate application for an eTA.

If you get a new passport before you come to Canada, you’ll need to apply for a new eTA if you plan to fly to a Canadian airport.

Answer: You need an eTA to leave and return to Canada

Your study permit lets you study in Canada. If you plan to leave and return to Canada, you need to make sure you have what you need to re-enter the country.

What you need depends on your travel plans.

canada travel to cuba

If you re-enter by a Canadian airport (fly back to Canada)

You must have:

  • the passport that’s linked to a valid eTA and
  • your valid study permit
  • costs CAN $7
  • is electronically linked to your passport

If you received your current study permit on or after August 1, 2015, you may have a valid eTA.

If you don’t have an eTA or yours has expired, you’ll need to apply for a new eTA.

Apply for an eTA Opens in a new tab

canada travel to cuba

If you re-enter Canada by car, boat, bus or train

  • a valid passport and

Answer: If you fly to a Canadian airport, you need an eTA

  • costs CAN$7

Most applicants get their eTA approval (via an email) within minutes. However, some requests  can take several days  to process if you’re asked to submit supporting documents.

If you drive or arrive by train, bus or boat

You just need a  valid passport or travel document Opens in a new tab  to get to Canada by car, train, bus or boat.

Answer: If we approve your work permit application, we’ll issue an electronic travel authorization (eTA) for you

  • valid passport that you used to apply for your work permit

If you get a new passport before you come to Canada, you’ll need to apply for a new eTA if you plan to fly to a Canadian airport.

Your work permit lets you work in Canada. If you plan to leave and return to Canada, you need to make sure you have what you need to re-enter the country.

  • your valid work permit

If you received your current work permit on or after August 1, 2015, you may have a valid eTA.

  • your valid work or study permit

Answer: You don’t need to apply for a visitor visa or eTA

  • valid passport or travel document that you used to apply for your work or study permit

When you travel to Canada, you must bring your:

  • letter of introduction that says your study permit application is approved

Answer: You don’t need an eTA or a visitor visa

If you’re driving or arriving by train, bus, or boat.

You just need to  bring the right travel documents Opens in a new tab .

If you fly to or transit through a Canadian airport

You just need to travel with your valid U.S. passport if you fly or transit through a Canadian airport.

  • valid passport or travel document that you used to apply for your work permit
  • valid work or study permit

Answer: Your permit is not an eTA or a visa

When you extend your study permit, you’ll also be issued an eTA if you don’t already have one. When you fly to a Canadian, you must have:

  • the passport that’s linked to your valid eTA  and
  • a valid visitor and

Apply for visitor visa Opens in a new tab

When you extend your work permit, you’ll also be issued an eTA if you don’t already have one. When you fly to a Canadian, you must have:

  • a valid visitor visa and

Answer: You’re eligible to apply for an eTA

You can apply for an  eTA  if you travel to Canada  by air only .

  • is only valid when flying to or transiting through a Canadian airport

Most applicants get their eTA approval within minutes (via email). However, some requests  can take several days  to process if you’re asked to submit supporting documents.

If you already have a  valid Canadian visitor visa  you don’t need to apply for an eTA. You can travel with your visa until it expires.

If your travel plans change

You need a  visitor visa  (not an eTA) if you decide to  get to Canada by car, train, bus or boat  instead.

Answer: You don’t need to apply for a visitor visa or eTA

  • valid passport or travel document that you used to apply for your study permit and
  • official proof of U.S. lawful permanent resident status

Answer: You need valid proof of lawful permanent resident status of the U.S. to leave and return to Canada

  • valid study permit,
  • valid passport or travel document that you used to apply for your study permit, and

Answer: You don’t need an eTA or a visitor visa

  • valid passport or travel document and

You’ll need to answer some questions on another page to find out.

If you’re eligible to study without a study permit, you’ll need to come back to this page to find out what you need to travel to Canada.

  • valid passport or travel document that you used to apply for your work permit and
  • valid work permit
  • valid work permit,

If you’re eligible to work without a work permit, you’ll need to come back to this page to find out what you need to travel to Canada.

Answer: You’re eligible to apply for an eTA

If you already have a  valid Canadian visitor visa , you don’t need to apply for an eTA. You can travel with your visa until it expires.

If you transit through Canada to or from the United States

You  may  be able to  transit through Canada without a visa or eTA if you meet certain eligibility requirements.

You need an official proof of status as a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., such as one of the following:

  • valid permanent resident card (Form I-551)
  • foreign passport with an unexpired temporary I-551 stamp (also known as an Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication [ADIT] stamp)
  • foreign passport with a temporary I-551 printed notation (“Upon endorsement serves as temporary I-551 evidencing permanent residence for 1 year”) on a machine-readable immigrant visa upon endorsement with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection admission stamp
  • expired permanent resident card (Form I-551) with Form I-797 (Notice of Action) for pending Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) or Form I-829 (Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status)
  • expired permanent resident card (Form I-551) with Form I-797 (Notice of Action) for pending Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card [Green Card])
  • valid re-entry permit (Form I-327)
  • Form I-94 with an unexpired temporary I-551 stamp (ADIT stamp) and a passport-style photo

Important note:

This tool provides information only. It was created to assist you as you decide what travel document you may need to travel to Canada. This tool may not provide information on all travel documents or your particular situation. If you choose to apply, we will assess your application in accordance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its related Regulations. Read our complete terms and conditions (opens in a new tab) .

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8 Tips For Canadians Heading To Cuba In 2024, Including Passport Requirements & What To Pack

Make sure you have these essentials before you go.

​A person holds Canadian passports. Right: A beach in Cuba.

A person holds Canadian passports. Right: A beach in Cuba.

Are you travelling to Cuba this year? Whether you're planning an all-inclusive vacation in resort areas of the Caribbean country, or you're going to be exploring the streets of Havana, there are certain things you'll want to make sure you have before your trip.

Canadians travelling to Cuba will want to be aware of the travel documents they need to enter the country, as well as current travel advice from the Government of Canada.

Ready to fly to the "Pearl of the Antilles"? Here are eight travel tips Canadians should know before heading to Cuba in 2024.

Know when to visit

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Many opt to visit Cuba over January and February. However, the dry season extends from November to April, meaning you'll likely have good weather during this period, including warm, summery temperatures.

You may want to avoid travelling during Hurricane season, which is from mid-May to the end of November, according to the Government of Canada . During this period, even small tropical storms can develop into major hurricanes.

Cuba also experiences a rainy season, which extends from April to October.

Find out more

Get the right currency

The currency of Cuba is the Cuban peso.

While Canadian credit cards are increasingly accepted at restaurants and hotels, the system is "unreliable" and bank cards may not work or may stop working without notice — so it's a good idea to have a good amount of cash on you.

ATMs are rare and also unreliable, according to the Canadian government , with each withdrawal limited to 5,000 Cuban pesos, when possible.

The Government of Canada advises that travellers to Cuba plan to bring enough currency to cover the duration of their stay.

"You should also plan for small bank notes to facilitate daily transactions such as, street food, taxis and tips," it says.

You can exchange Canadian (as well as American dollars and euros) for Cuban pesos at the money exchange bureaus in Cuba's international airports, banks, major hotels and official exchange bureaus

Travellers should note, however, that it's illegal to change money on the street in Cuba, or anywhere else other than authorized entities.

You also cannot go through Cuban customs with more than 5,000 Cuban pesos.

The Cuba Tourist Board of Canada recommends exchanging Canadian dollars into pesos as you need them and only if you are planning to travel around outside of Cuba's tourist zones as you won’t be able to exchange the left-over pesos back into Canadian dollars at the end of your vacation.

You'll need a tourist card

Canadian passport holders don't need a visa to enter Cuba, but they do require a Cuba Tourist Card.

In most cases, the tourist card will be provided for travellers when they book a flight or vacation package with an airline — for example, Air Transat says that travellers will get a tourist card onboard their flight, or at the airline counter when they check-in.

Sunwing recommends checking if your tour operators or airline provides a tourist card prior to arriving in Cuba.

If no tourist card is provided, you can apply at the nearest Cuban consulate or embassy.

The tourist card allows Canadian passport holders to stay in the country for up to 90 days. If you wish to stay longer (Canadians can stay in the country for a total time of six months) you must obtain an extension of stay.

According to the Government of Canada, if you go to Cuba on your own or transit via another country, you are responsible for obtaining the tourist card from a Cuban government office in Canada.

You may also buy it at some airports in Canada and in the United States. You can also apply through the officially licenced third-party Visa Cuba . The tourist card itself costs 27 euros, or about CA$39, with higher fees for priority delivery.

Fill out the arrival form

Canadian travellers are required to provide information on their arrival in Cuba via an online form within 72 hours before entering the country.

This can be done on the Government of Cuba's D’Viajeros traveller information portal .

Once done, you'll receive a QR code by email. Travellers must show an electronic or printed version of the QR code to authorities upon arrival in the country.

Make sure your passport is valid longer than your stay

While Canadian passport holders don't need a visa to enter the country, they will need a valid passport that will be valid beyond the length of their stay.

According to the Cuba Tourist Board of Canada, your Canadian passport should be valid for at least one week after your return date. So if you're passport is set to expire right after you get back from your Cuba vacation, you'll want to get it renewed.

You'll need health insurance

According to the Government of Canada, Canadians travelling to Cuba must show proof of valid health insurance to enter the country.

"All health insurance policies are recognized in Cuba, except those issued by U.S. insurance companies. However, the Cuban immigration authorities will decide which proof of health insurance is acceptable," says the government.

Proof of health insurance could be an insurance policy, insurance certificate, or a Canadian provincial health insurance card.

If you don’t have proof of health insurance or if the proof you present doesn’t satisfy the Cuban immigration authorities, you may have to obtain health insurance from a Cuban insurance company upon your arrival in the country.

"This insurance may have limited coverage. Local authorities may refuse your entry to the country," says the Government of Canada.

According to Sunwing , health insurance may be included with some airline tickets, so travellers should check with their airlines.

Travellers should also keep in mind that Cuban authorities won’t let you leave the country with outstanding medical bills, which are payable by credit card only. You will need to remain in Cuba until all debts are paid.

Travellers are advised to be sure to purchase the best health insurance you can afford, and ensure the insurance includes medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Pack a power adapter

You may need to bring a power converter with you on your trip to Cuba.

According to the Cuba Tourist Board of Canada, Cuba's electricity is 110 volts (used in North America) but most hotels and resorts have 220 volts (predominantly used in countries in Europe and the U.A.E).

Electrical outlets take flat plug prongs. If you’re bringing an electrical appliance, the tourist board recommends checking before you leave to see if you need an adaptor or converter.

Hairdryers, straighteners, and flat irons will likely need a power adapter to avoid getting damaged.

Be aware of shortages

The Government of Canada currently advises travellers to exercise a high degree of caution in Cuba due to shortages of basic necessities including food, medicine and fuel.

According to the government, Cuba faces chronic and severe shortages of ‎basic necessities, including food, bottled water, and fuel.

"Fuel shortages are currently critical and affect a wide range of services," says Canada's travel advisory for Cuba .

"Travelling across the island is extremely challenging. Public transportation services, including taxis, are often disrupted, leaving tourists with few options to travel. Some travellers have been temporarily stranded with a rental car. Intermittent shortages of tap water provided by municipalities happen, including in Havana and in resorts."

Some hotels and resorts, which may use generators during power outages, may not be able to maintain their services. The fuel shortages may also affect government services, says the government.

Local authorities are also enforcing the rationing of food and medications, which could also affect travellers.

Travellers are advised to plan accordingly and bring some basic necessities, like toiletries and medication. They should also keep a supply of water, food and fuel on hand, and be sure to always have access to a complete emergency kit.

Bon voyage!

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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canada travel to cuba

canada travel to cuba

What You Need To Be Aware Of As A Tourist Visiting Cuba

B eaches with white sand as fine as sugar, vintage American cars cruising down streets lined by colorful aging buildings, and the chance to puff on a fine cigar while watching people dance the salsa in the warm night air: It's not hard to understand the picture-postcard allure of Cuba. It's a country in the throes of rapid change as it emerges back onto the world stage after decades of stagnation following the 1959 revolution. So now is a wonderful time to pack your dancing shoes and visit the Caribbean's largest island.

However, Cuba isn't an uncomplicated tropical paradise and there are several things you need to be aware of before you visit as a tourist. Like, as an American, is it even legal for you to visit Cuba as a tourist? What's with the money situation? And can you access the internet or are you going back to the Stone Age (also known as the early 1990s)?

Can Americans Visit Cuba?

Cuba is just 103 miles from the tip of Florida making it the ideal winter getaway for sun-seeking Americans. However, the U.S. imposed restrictions on travel to Cuba in 1963 and while the level of restrictions has varied over the years, as of July 2023, Americans can't visit Cuba purely for tourism purposes.

That said, there are 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba, and the one that most Americans visiting the island use is the "support for the Cuban people" category. You'll need a passport with six months validity at the time of entry and two blank pages. You also need a Cuban Tourist Card, which you can usually get from your airline for as little as $50.

Speaking of airlines, you can fly direct to Cuba from several U.S. cities, including Miami, Tampa, New York City , and Houston. Most direct flights from the U.S. land in the Cuban capital of Havana, though there are several nonstop flights from Miami to other destinations in the country, including Santiago de Cuba and the popular beach resort of Varadero.

Cuban Currency

There's good news and, let's say, tricky news when it comes to paying for things in Cuba. The good news is that there is now one currency used by residents and visitors alike in the country: the Cuban peso (CUP). The Cuban convertible peso (CUC), which used to be the currency used by tourists, was eliminated in 2021.

The only official place you can exchange currency in Cuba is at Cadeca exchange houses. You cannot get CUP outside of Cuba, nor should you take the currency home with you. Spend or exchange anything you have left over before you go to the airport (after security, you should pay in foreign currency).

What about credit cards? U.S. credit and debit cards won't work in Cuba. Credit cards from major financial institutions like Visa and Mastercard from other countries should be accepted by certain businesses and ATMs. However, cash is king in the country and it's always a good idea to keep some with you for tips to service workers.

The Internet In Cuba

Cuba is the perfect place to go on a digital detox. We're going to be honest: Getting online isn't as easy as in the U.S. and internet speeds can be sluggish. However, if you need to connect to the internet, you can. The most common way to access the internet in Cuba is via hotspots in places like public parks and on the Malécon in Havana. (They are also perfect for people-watching, so embrace the experience!) Many hotels and some other businesses also have Wi-Fi.

To access the internet in most places you're going to need a NAUTA card, which you can purchase from ETECSA offices around Cuba. Be prepared to stand in line to buy the card and take your passport along with you. Our advice? Be patient and make the most of your offline moments to fully immerse yourself in the Cuban experience. And plan to latergram your posts on Insta.

Sleeping And Eating

When it comes to accommodation in Cuba, you'll find a range of options. From all-inclusive beach resorts to cozy casas particulares, you'll find somewhere to suit your preferences and budget. Our pick for independent travelers is a casa particular, a privately owned guesthouse which offers a fantastic opportunity to experience Cuban hospitality firsthand. Many places offer breakfast and an evening meal, so you can taste home-cooked Cuban food. It's also an excellent way to support the Cuban people (this is likely the stated purpose of your visit, after all) as the money you pay goes directly to the guesthouse owners. In contrast, the Cuban government holds at least a 51% share in all hotels in Cuba. Hotel star ratings are often on the generous side, so be discerning.

As far as food goes in Cuba, your best bet is to go to a paladar, a privately run restaurant that serves excellent versions of classic Cuban dishes like roast pork, shredded beef, and suckling pig (the cuisine is pretty meat-forward). A note on cultural sensitivity: Many products that are widely available in the U.S. might not be in Cuba and even basic products often disappear from Cuban shops at short notice. Savor what's put on your plate and enjoy the often simple but tasty food.

How To Support And Respect The Cuban People

Staying in casas particulares and eating at paladares are just two ways that you can support the Cuban people on your trip. Consider taking a salsa class run by a local, buying locally made handicrafts, and whiling away the steamy nights sipping rum and listening to musicians put on a fabulous show. By patronizing local businesses, not only are you financially supporting the Cuban people, but you're also going to have an authentic Cuban experience.

We touched on the unavailability of some food items earlier, but shortages extend to many consumer products in Cuba. Bring everything you think you'll need for your trip, including medications. You may also want to bring a roll of toilet paper (glamorous, we know), as public bathrooms often don't have it. Power cuts are common; while they might be frustrating, remember that you're only there for a short time and, for Cubans, power cuts are infuriating, so keep your complaints to yourself. This goes for everything, really; if you're not prepared for some minor inconveniences, don't visit Cuba. If you want to take a memorable trip to a country steeped in history with a vibrant culture, stunning urban architecture, and beautiful natural landscapes, it'll all be worth it.

Read this next: The World's Best Places To Put On Your Travel Bucket List

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Changes to bag allowances and fees have been updated as of February 20, 2024.

Travel within / between the U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands – 1st checked bag fee is $40 ($35 if you pay online) and the 2nd checked bag fee is $45.

Travel to / from Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Guyana – 1st checked bag fee is $35 and the 2nd checked bag fee is $45.

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Check up to 10 bags on american airlines operated flights if your trip is:.

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Pay for your checked bags online within 24 hours of departure and receive the best price available for travel on domestic flights within and between the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, and select markets in the Caribbean and Central America.

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All published bag fees apply at each check-in location and are base rates according to travel dates and destination; applicable taxes are not shown.

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^^A $30 1st checked bag fee and a $40 2nd checked bag fee applies for tickets issued on / before February 19, 2024. A $40 1st checked bag fee ($35 if paid online) and a $45 2nd checked bag fee applies within / between the U.S. (including HI / AK), Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands for tickets issued on / after February 20, 2024. Otherwise, a $35 1st checked bag fee and a $45 2nd checked bag fee applies for tickets issued on / after February 20, 2024.

*Free bag excludes Basic Economy: For Basic Economy travel to / from Haiti, a $30 1st bag fee applies for tickets issued on / before February 19, 2024 and a $35 1st bag fee applies for tickets issued on / after February 20, 2024. For Basic Economy travel to/from Panama / Colombia / Ecuador / Peru a $45 1st bag fee applies. For Basic Economy travel to / from South America (excluding Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname) a $45 1st bag fee applies for tickets issued on / before September 19, 2023 and a $60 1st bag fee applies for tickets issued on / after September 20, 2023. For Transatlantic Basic Economy travel, a $75 1st bag fee applies. For Transpacific Basic Economy travel for tickets issued on / after June 7, 2023 a $75 1st bag fee applies and for tickets issued on / before June 6, 2023 there is no 1st bag fee.

**For travel to / from Panama and South America (except Guyana and Suriname), a $65 2nd bag fee applies for tickets issued on / before September 19, 2023 and a $100 2nd bag fee applies for tickets issued on / after September 20, 2023.

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Bag and optional fees - Canada

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Each passenger traveling to Cuba may only check up to 2 bags* with a maximum weight of 70 lbs / 32 kgs per bag, plus 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item.

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*Seasonal exceptions apply to Havana, Cuba effective for travel on / after March 14, 2023

*For travel to Cuba, a $30 1st bag fee applies to Basic Economy and Main Cabin for tickets issued on / before September 19, 2023. For tickets issued on / after September 20, 2023 a $30 1st bag fee applies to Basic Economy and there is no 1st bag fee for Main Cabin. For tickets issued on / after February 20, 2024 a $35 1st bag fee applies to Basic Economy and there is no 1st bag fee for Main Cabin.

**For travel to Cuba, a $200 2nd bag fee applies seasonally for travel from November 16 – January 9. A $150 2nd bag fee applies otherwise. Excludes Main Plus for tickets issued on / after September 20, 2023.

^Main Plus includes 1 extra free checked bag in addition to the Main Cabin allowance (max of 2).

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COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

The Government of Canada’s official source of travel information and advice, the Travel Advice and Advisories help you to make informed decisions and travel safely while you are outside Canada. Check the page for your destination often, because safety and security conditions may change. See Travel Advice and Advisories – FAQ for more information.

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canada travel to cuba

Russian warships, including nuclear-powered submarine, to visit Cuba next week

Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov pictured in this 2023 file photo. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Four Russian warships, including a nuclear-powered submarine, will arrive in Havana next week, Cuban officials said Thursday, citing "historically friendly relations" between both nations and as tensions escalate over Western military support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Cuba's foreign ministry said in a news release that the ships will be in Havana on June 12-17, noting that none of them will carry any nuclear weapons and assuring their presence "does not represent a threat to the region."

The announcement came a day after U.S. officials said that Washington had been tracking Russian warships and aircraft that were expected to arrive in the Caribbean for a military exercise. They said the exercise would be part of a broader Russian response to the U.S. support for Ukraine.

  • The information you need to know, sent directly to you: Download the CTV News App

The officials said that the Russian military presence was notable but not concerning. However, it's taking place as Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that Moscow could take "asymmetrical steps" elsewhere in the world in response to President Joe Biden's decision to allow Ukraine to use U.S.-provided weapons to strike inside Russia to protect Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.

Cuba's Foreign Ministry said that the four Russian ships are the frigate "Gorshkov," the nuclear-powered submarine "Kazan," the fleet oil tanker "Pashin" and the salvage tug "Nikolai Chiker."

During the fleet's arrival at the port of Havana, 21 salvos will be fired from one of the ships as a salute to the nation, which will be reciprocated by an artillery battery of Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces, the foreign ministry said.

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Police say 2 women tried to lure boy into van in southeast Edmonton: EPS

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Woman charged after entering Chatham home, asking about resident's children

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France President Macron calls snap election after defeat in EU vote

French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday he was dissolving the National Assembly and calling a snap legislative election after his party suffered a heavy defeat in elections for the European Parliament.

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‘We haven’t completely stopped’: Update on search for climbers missing near Squamish, B.C.

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Fire destroys historic sawmill in southwestern N.S.

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This pottery goat made by King Charles and found in Canada just sold for $19K

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EU projection shows far-right parties making big gains in European elections

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Newly chosen Haiti prime minister discharged from hospital after spending night in treatment

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At least 9 dead after suspected militants in Kashmir fire at Hindu pilgrims, sending bus into gorge

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Narendra Modi's third term as India's prime minister may prove the most challenging

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No agreement among parties on releasing names of 'witting' foreign interference participants

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Brain, heart conditions could be treated as a one functioning unit, uOttawa says

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Hundreds of firefighters climb 1,370 steps to raise money for Wellspring Alberta.

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3 injured after 3-vehicle crash on Prince of Wales Dr.

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'It will not happen again,' Montreal mayor wants answers after terrasses closed on Grand Prix weekend

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Man in hospital after being shot by police in central Edmonton: EPS

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N.B. organization focuses on helping foster families province-wide

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First Nations youth build house in the Dominican Republic

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RCMP looking for armed suspect

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Wind phone used as tool to communicate with deceased or lost family members

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The Teddy Bears Anonymous 16th annual BBQ for Bears raised over $10,000 on Saturday.

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Most-read stories of the week: Accidental car seizure, Hells Angels, rats in Waterloo

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Local search and rescue trainer uses new AI underwater lifesaving technology

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Senior escapes knifepoint abduction in Saskatoon campsite robbery

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Saskatchewan athlete sets Canadian 400-metre hurdle record at NCAA championship

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Sask. man arrested while cleaning stolen vehicle at Esso car wash

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Northern Ontario

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Timmins mobile home owners being forced to move, but have nowhere to go

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A freighter ship in Lake Superior collided with something underwater, U.S. Coast Guards says

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Police seek suspect in London arson investigation

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VIDEO | Fatal fire in Tillsonburg

One person has died in a house fire in Tillsonburg, Ont.

Forest City Road Races adds cash prizes in 42nd year

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Orillia residents discuss how a sustainable future for the city can be built at workshop

More than 40 community members gathered to discuss a sustainable future for Orillia at a workshop held by Sustainable Orillia.

Orillia farmers' market hosts first pop-up market this summer

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Overnight garage fire causes extensive damage to home near Bradford West Gwillimbury

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The roots of the LaSalle Strawberry Festival: Why is it named after strawberries?

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Windsor booster and long-time business owner Ted Farron dies

A long-time community booster and a man whose smile could light up any room has died.

Vancouver Island

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North Saanich, B.C., home destroyed in fire

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ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) . Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.

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Havana Times

Flight to Freedom: and the Recent Mass Exodus from Cuba

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Approximately 600,000 Cubans were intercepted at the southern US border since October 2021, a higher number than any other mass exodus in Cuba’s history.

By Michael Lima Cuadra (Latinoamerica21)

HAVANA TIMES – In the latest round of migration discussions between Cuba and the United States, convened in Washington DC on April 16, 2024, the Cuban regime once again resorted to its well-worn scapegoat: the U.S. economic embargo. By attributing the recent mass exodus primarily to the embargo, the regime adhered to its decades-old tactic of deflecting internal issues onto external factors.

However, this repetitive narrative hides a stark truth: the staggering exodus is a direct consequence of a socio-political oppressive system that systematically renders individuals defenseless, depriving them of any means to escape their circumstances of misery and oppression.

Humanitarian Crisis and Mass Migration

Cubans today face a multi-systemic crisis due to Venezuela’s declining oil exports since 2019, the Cuban regime’s unpopular 2020 economic reforms, and the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on tourism and remittances. This crisis has led to collapsing infrastructure, decreased purchasing power, currency devaluation, soaring inflation, and severe shortages of food, medicine, and housing.

As a result of this crisis, Cuba has experienced the largest migration in its history. According to the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency, roughly 600,000 Cubans were intercepted at the southern border since October 2021, a figure larger than any other mass exodus in Cuba’s history since the start of the Wars of Independence in 1868.

Cubans leave the island because they have no other option. The Cuban government, acting as the primary employer within an outdated centrally planned economic system inherited from the Soviet era, tightly controls the self-employed sector through high taxes and punitive fines. Self-employed workers need government permission to start their own businesses.

Various studies suggest that from the 1990s to the present, it has been a systematic trend and practice of the Cuban regime to significantly restrict the issuance of licenses to self-employed workers, leaving people in a state of powerlessness subject to the control of the state. Currently, there is a list of 124 prohibited private operating activities, encompassing key economic sectors and skilled professions. Furthermore, the prohibition of non-governmental organizations that could address poverty, humanitarian crises, inequality, racism, and other social conflicts in Cuba exacerbates the average citizen’s lack of agency to improve their economic circumstances.

Refusal to implement critical economic reforms

The Cuban regime’s refusal to implement crucial economic reforms, such as unleashing the country’s productive forces and allowing a free market with price liberalization, has further intensified the crisis. Essentially, ordinary Cubans face significant constraints and lack the autonomy to independently alter their conditions of poverty and oppression. Faced with a lack of opportunities resulting from the economic policies of the Communist Party and a lack of freedom, Cubans find themselves in an exacerbated situation of vulnerability, compelling many to seek refuge in other countries.

While the Cuban regime attributes the humanitarian emergency and economic crisis in Cuba, prompting many to flee to the United States, to the U.S. embargo, a survey conducted in Cuba during the summer of 2022, encompassing 1,227 individuals across 14 provinces, reveals significant disparities in popular perceptions. More than 70% of those interviewed place the responsibility for the crisis on poor governance and the prevailing system, with only 8% attributing the economic and social conflicts to the embargo. More than six decades of manufacturing a narrative that blames the embargo for internal problems in Cuba no longer holds credibility among many Cubans.

Lack of freedom as a fundamental trigger for Cuba’s Mass Exodus

It is essential to pay special attention to the lack of freedoms as a fundamental trigger that forces Cubans to flee the country. Unlike many in Latin America, Cubans lack the freedom to change their circumstances. Article 4 of the Cuban constitution criminalizes efforts to alter the political and economic system. For over 65 years, Cubans have been denied free elections, leaving the Communist Party in unchallenged power and unaccountable for the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Furthermore, in a country where the state is essentially the main employer and where access to education and work is conditioned by discriminatory requirements of political support for the ruling system, expressing dissent becomes a perilous endeavor. As documented by human rights organizations, the cumulative effects of these practices, coupled with the absence of effective recourse to hold human rights abusers accountable, has added a sense of hopelessness that propelled the decision of countless Cuban professionals and people of all walks of live to flee the country in recent years.

Politically motivated persecution and the threat of prosecution and imprisonment in the aftermath of the July 11, 2021 crackdown on pro-democratic protests were factors forcing many to leave the country. Many individuals who joined these and subsequent protests were at risk of prosecution, forcing them to make a difficult choice between going to prison or leaving the country. Others, who had participated in protests without being arrested, feared being identified later on video footage by authorities. Ultimately, fear of persecution has compelled many to flee.

The Cuban exodus is fueled by an outdated system, ongoing human rights violations, politically motivated persecution, and ineffective governance, resulting in a humanitarian crisis. The state of defenselessness imposed on individuals is a primary cause of this exodus, as Cubans flee due to their inability to change their political and economic circumstances. These conditions of vulnerability and powerlessness are major drivers of the exodus, which could be alleviated in a democratic system governed by the rule of law, where citizens can mobilize for change and enjoy economic and political freedoms to improve their lives.

Governments worldwide must respect the right to seek political asylum, a fundamental human right under international law. While the U.S. parole program has helped about 86,000 Cubans, it excludes many politically persecuted individuals without U.S. sponsors or access to the CBP One app near the U.S.-Mexico border. Immediate actions should reinstate the refugee admission program at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as urged by Cuban activists, and repeal the asylum ban at the border. This ban, criticized by groups like the ACLU, unfairly denies asylum to migrants based on their entry method into the U.S.

The deportation of Cubans, particularly after denying their asylum applications, violates the Convention on the Status of Refugees and raises serious ethical concerns. Cuba’s laws against illegal departures, restrictive regulations limiting the rights of professionals, and Penal Code articles curtailing freedom of expression and association endanger deportees. Activists, deported to Cuba face imprisonment and other arbitrary measures.

A multilateral approach to the Cuban exodus involves Canada and the European Union joining the United States in imposing targeted sanctions on key figures responsible for repression, including President Miguel Díaz-Canel. Accountability and justice for repression victims are crucial. Supporting peaceful democracy movements within Cuba and initiatives like the March 21st bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to foster an informed citizenry are essential steps toward creating conditions that empower people to demand free and fair elections, allowing them to choose their preferred political system.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

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3 thoughts on “ Flight to Freedom: and the Recent Mass Exodus from Cuba ”

I want to help. I need a POC in Cuba. Preferably a Masonic Lodge.

“A multilateral approach to the Cuban exodus involves Canada and the European Union joining the United States in imposing targeted sanctions on key figures responsible for repression, including President Miguel Díaz-Canel.”

I think any initiative involving the government of Canada and Cuba is wishful thinking. How many “targeted sanctions” has Canada imposed on Russian officials and oligarchs? Too many to count. And what outcome have these targeted sanctions had on the Russian economy? According to statistics, assuming they are accurate, the Russian economy despite its protracted war in Ukraine, and despite economic sanctions from abroad, continues to grow. Why?

There are many like minded ideological countries – China – to name one who will step in to fill any economic vacuum created by targeted sanctions against a brethren. Moreover, a country like India with no ideological reason to help Russia but with a sharp economic self interest is purchasing much needed oil from Russia does so despite the world calling for sanctions.

The point here is that “targeted sanctions “ do not work. Plus, the present Canadian government based on prolonged polling will be tossed in a year’s time and who knows who the next President of the U.S. will be.

If Trump becomes President, and he carries out his “retribution agenda” there will be very few mutual multilateral agreements between Canada and the U.S. whether the current Liberal leader – Trudeau – is in power, or a newly elected Conservative leader. Why? Canada pretends to pay 2% of its G D P on defence in NATO and according to Trump those countries who do not pay up, are on their own.

With regard to Cuba, whatever the Republicans have done in the past and do in the future, if in power, the Democrats will talk a different policy but at the end of the day will not walk the talk, but simply maintain the status quo. Has Biden’s policies towards Cuba been any different than Trump’s past policies? No.

On the world stage Canada is an insignificant player. Any sanctions imposed on Cuba either by the European Union or the U. S. will be easily thwarted by China and Russia stepping in to allay any serious economic impacts.

The totalitarian Cuban government certainly are not shaking in their boots worrying about potential targeted sanctions against Cuban officials. The Cuban economy already on life support will, unfortunately for the majority of Cubans, continue to crawl along as is. For how much longer is anyone’s guess.

Cuba could be a wonderful country but only with freedom for small to medium size business Japan was a big player in China 30 plus yrs ago and would be happy to work with the Cuban people but not with the current government model. Japan has set up factories that produce higher quality goods that are in more demand than many China run factories The same with agriculture Holland has sent many experts to ont and Mexico to run both dairy farms and fruit and vegetables production often in greenhouses of 20 or more acres in size . Cuba has a good climate lots of land and a well educated workforce and housing that could be upgraded when the workers earn a fair wage of over $2 / hr plus $1 hr go to medical care and education. The current problems would almost disappear But the current rules in Cuba make these changes impossible and when investors from other countries like Canada and Mexico have invested in Cuba the money and the assets just disappeared. Cuba is loosing many good young skilled people that are risking their lives to get out

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  7. Know Before You Go /Check List for Canadians Traveling to Cuba:

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  27. Flight to Freedom: and the Recent Mass Exodus from Cuba

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