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Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Full travel advice: Local contacts
Pickpocketing, bag snatching and other petty crime is common, especially on public transport and intercity buses.
It also happens at major tourist areas such as:
Power outages are common and can last from minutes to several hours. The opportunity for theft increases during these outages.
Thefts from hotels and guesthouses occur. Keep the doors and windows at your accommodation locked.
People have reported thefts from checked baggage at Cuban airports.
When travelling through airports, keep a close eye on your valuables, including during security screening.
On flights, keep your valuables on you or place them in your carry-on baggage. Don't check-in:
Criminals posing as tour agents or taxi drivers operate at the airport and in Havana.
Road-based crime is increasing. Thieves may slash car tyres and then help with repairs while an accomplice steals from the vehicle.
Thieves who pose as hitchhikers are also common.
To protect yourself from road-based crime:
If you're a victim of crime or theft, get a written police report (Comprobante de Denuncia) from the Cuban police (Policia Nacional) before you leave Cuba.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
If a natural disaster happens:
Register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System to receive alerts on major disasters.
If you're travelling to Cuba during hurricane season or after a natural disaster, monitor weather reports. Contact your tour operator or airline to check if the severe weather has affected your travel plans.
The hurricane season is June to November. Landslides, mudslides and flooding also occur. The direction and strength of hurricanes can change suddenly.
If there's a hurricane or severe storm:
Natural disasters can disrupt essential services. This includes power, communication systems, emergency and medical care, food, fuel and water supplies.
In some areas, adequate shelter from a hurricane may not be available if you stay.
If a hurricane is approaching:
Cuba is in an active earthquake zone. Tsunamis can also happen.
Familiarise yourself with earthquake safety measures for each place you stay and visit.
To receive tsunami alerts, register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.
Move immediately to high ground if advised by local authorities or if you:
Do not wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Cuba. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
Many medications are in short supply or unavailable in Cuba.
Carry a copy of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating:
Zika virus is a risk, but it's not widespread.
If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends you discuss travel plans with your doctor. Consider deferring non-essential travel to affected areas.
To protect yourself from disease:
Get medical help if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are common. These include:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
Outbreaks of cholera are seasonal and common.
To protect yourself from illness:
Get medical advice if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
Public medical facilities in Havana are basic.
Standards are limited in smaller towns and rural areas.
Private medical facilities are well-equipped. However, the only private hospital for travellers in Havana is the Cira Garcia Hospital.
State-run Servimed clinics can provide emergency medical care in major tourist areas.
Doctors and hospitals require cash payment before treating you.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may be evacuated to get proper care. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for drug offences are severe. They include lengthy prison sentences in local jails.
You must always carry photo ID. Authorities can detain you if you're found without it.
Contact the Embassy of Canada in Havana if you lose your Australian passport or other identification documents.
Serious crimes, such as espionage and mass murder, can attract the death penalty.
Under Cuban law, charges aren't laid until the investigation is complete.
If you're accused, you can be jailed during the investigation.
In Cuba it's illegal to:
Get local legal advice before preaching a religion or importing religious material. Doing so may be illegal.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Cuba doesn't recognise dual nationality.
If you're a dual national, this limits the consular services we can give if you're arrested or detained.
Australian-Cuban dual nationals must enter Cuba on a valid Cuban passport. However, you need to show your Australian passport when you leave Cuba.
Dual nationals may need to get permission to enter Cuba. If you're a dual national, check your obligations with an embassy or consulate of Cuba before you travel.
You need a visa to enter Cuba.
If your visit is for tourism, you can get a 'tourist card' through:
The tourist card includes a tourist visa.
In other situations, you need to apply for a visa.
Entry and exit conditions change can at short notice. Contact an embassy or consulate of Cuba for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
You must show proof of comprehensive travel insurance to enter.
You need to purchase extra insurance from Asistur, the Cuban insurance provider if you:
The list of duty-free items that you can take into Cuba is limited. If customs authorities consider any item is not for personal use, they can seize it. Equipment that draws heavily on electricity or uses satellite technology can also be confiscated.
Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Cuba for details about official requirements for minors travelling without their parents.
A departure tax is included in the cost of your airline ticket.
If you’re travelling through the US, see our US travel advice for entry conditions.
You must meet all US entry or transit requirements.
If you're travelling through Canada, you'll need an electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) for Canada.
See our Canada travel advice for entry conditions.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
Cuba has 2 official currencies:
Foreigners will always use CUC. The CUP is worth substantially less than the CUC. It's illegal to remove CUC bills from Cuba.
Australian dollars can't be exchanged in Cuba. The US Dollar attracts a large commission fee if you change it.
Australian travellers often experience problems with access to funds due to unique banking arrangements in Cuba.
Credit cards, debit cards and traveller's cheques aren't accepted in Cuba if they're issued by US banks or Australian banks affiliated with US banks. This includes:
Before you travel, check with your bank if your cards will work in Cuba.
International money transfer agencies aren't available to Australians in Cuba.
Authorities have detained and deported travellers without access to funds. If you're caught without money in Cuba, you can try to have funds transferred via Asistur SA. Services don't run on weekends and can take several days.
ATMs are limited outside Havana. Have a variety of ways of accessing your money, including:
Take an emergency supply of cash, including enough to leave Cuba if your bank cards don't work.
You must get your IDP before leaving Australia.
To hire a motor vehicle, you must be at least 21 years old.
Driving in Cuba is dangerous, particularly at night.
If you're involved in an accident, you're likely to be detained, regardless of who's at fault.
You may not be allowed to leave Cuba until the case is resolved.
If you drive in Cuba:
Cuba has strict alcohol laws. It's illegal to drive with any alcohol in your bloodstream.
Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Criminals posing as drivers operate at the airport and in Havana.
Mopeds and 3-wheeled 'Coco-taxis' are particularly dangerous.
To protect yourself from crime:
Avoid public transport. Many vehicles are poorly maintained.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Cuba's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to help Australians overseas.
You can also get consular help from the Australian Embassy in Mexico.
Ruben Dario 55, Polanco
Colonia Bosques de Chapultepec, CP
11580 CDMX Mexico
Telephone: +52 55 1101 2200
Fax: +52 55 1101 2201
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.