Ever since I returned from Cuba in December 2016, quite a few people have messaged me asking for details around how to travel to Cuba with an Indian passport. I hope this post will be helpful if you are planning your travel to Cuba. It’s always advisable to check the latest on visa policies, but at the time of writing this is accurate.
Getting a tourist card to Cuba:
Essentially, anyone can visit Cuba without having to apply for a visa. You do, however, need to buy a tourist card before boarding your plane to Cuba. I have heard definitive reports around tourist cards being sold on some of the flights leaving from Mexico, such as Interjet. Also, the tourist cards may sometimes be sold on arrival at the Habana airport. I recommend not taking a chance, an most likely the airlines will ask for it before you board.
Flying from Mexico to Cuba:
I flew from the US to Cancun, Mexico and took an Interjet flight to Habana. I flew from Mexico for a couple of reasons. I wanted to do cave diving at Dos Ojos cenote for a long time, and hadn’t been able to plan a trip. Secondly, I didn’t want to have any documented visits to Cuba(although the US immigration authorities have been pretty relaxed about trips to Cuba off late). The tourist card is available at one of the counters when you check-in for your flight at the Cancun airport. You pay USD 20, or in Mexican pesos, put your name on the card, and that is your visa to Cuba. No visa on your passport.
Flying directly from the US?
I met a few folks who had flown in directly from the US, with direct flights from Newark and Miami, and Delta planning to expand to other cities. At the time of writing, you still had to fall under one of the approved categories for travel to Cuba. Travelers easily got around it by showing a family exchange by staying at one of the many homestays and showing their reservation as evidence. The tourist card costs you USD 100 if you fly directly from the US.
Arrival in Cuba
The arrival and immigration process is similarly straightforward if you are a tourist. You show the tourist card, and ask the immigration officer not to stamp your passport. They made no fuss about it, and happily stamped my tourist card instead.
All in all, a very straightforward process without a lot of planning or visa forms to fill. I can highly recommend flying from Cancun, as it makes for a great stopover. Although I hate Cancun, there are some real gems around in that area. Look forward to hearing about your Cuba experience or any Cuba related questions. Cheers!