You must obtain comprehensive travel insurance covering medical expenses before travelling to Cuba. From 1 May 2010 you will be expected to present your insurance policy on arrival in the country. You should confirm with your bank before departure that your credit card will be accepted in Cuba.
From 1 May 2010 all travellers - including Cubans living abroad - are required to hold comprehensive travel insurance including medical insurance before travelling to Cuba. You will be expected to present a copy of your insurance on arrival in Cuba. Insurance should be valid for the full duration of your stay in Cuba and should cover medical evacuation by air ambulance. You should check any exclusions and that your policy covers you all for the activities you want to undertake. In exceptional cases you will be able to obtain a policy from Cuban insurance companies at your port of entry. For more details of these changes please see the Cuban Foreign Ministry website’s information for travellers to Cuba : http://www.cubaminrex.cu/.
Travellers should note that the Irish government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
For entry requirements for Cuba, please contact the nearest Cuban Embassy or Consulate Contact details for Foreign Embassies and Consulates in Ireland are available here.
It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times. Possession of photographic identification is required at all times in Cuba. Travellers may be detained if found without identification.
In the event that your passport is lost or stolen, obtaining a replacement passport will take a minimum of two weeks. The Irish Embassy in Mexico is accredited to Cuba and time must be allowed for the passport application to be sent to Mexico, processed and the passport returned by courier to Cuba. You should take necessary precautions to keep your travel documents secure at all times. Obtaining a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one.
SAFETY & SECURITY
The threat from terrorism is low. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Most visits to Cuba are trouble free. Theft from luggage during baggage handling at airports, both on arrival and departure, is common. You should remove all valuables, lock suitcases and consider having them shrink-wrapped before check-in. However, crime is on the increase, with tourists targeted for money and travel documents. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching occurs, particularly on public transport, intercity buses and at major tourist areas including in Old Havana, El Centro, Vedado and the Malecon, as well as on the beaches of Playa del Este and Varedero. You should take all necessary precautions if you are in Centro Havana at night. You should take a taxi to your accommodation rather than walk, even if your accommodation is only a few blocks away. Thefts from hotel and guesthouse accommodation occur. Irish citizens are advised to ensure that valuables are held securely and to exercise due caution at all times. You should pay particular care when travelling on public transport and only use established tour operators and regulated taxis.
Cuba is increasingly being used as a transit country for drugs destined for Europe. Cuban law allows for the the death penalty and courts are handing out very severe penalties (in excess of twenty years) for all drug related offences. Pack your entire luggage yourself and do not carry any items that do not belong to you.
Car-related crime and mugging incidents are increasing in Havana, Santiago and other areas less frequented by tourists. There have been attacks on foreigners using hire cars after staged punctures and by bogus hitch-hikers. Do not pick people up. If you get a puncture in a lonely spot, drive on several kilometres, preferably to a town, before stopping
Driving standards are variable. Many vehicles, including public transport, suffer from lack of maintenance and roads are poorly lit and sign-posted. Beware of cyclists, potholes and cars that stop without warning to pick up hitchhikers. You should avoid driving by night.
In view of serious accidents that have involved tourists, you should avoid using mopeds or three wheel Coco-Taxis for travel around Cuba.
If involved in an accident, you are likely to be detained, regardless of who is at fault. If you have a traffic accident where someone is killed or injured, the police investigation may take several months during which time the driver will normally not be allowed to leave Cuba. In some cases the driver may be imprisoned during this delay.
CASH & BANKING
Irish citizens in Cuba most frequently require consular assistance due to difficulties using debit/credit/cash point cards and exchanging money. Credit cards and travellers' cheques drawn on American banks are not accepted in Cuba. You should confirm with your bank before departure that your credit card will be accepted in Cuba.
There are virtually no cash-points available for drawing cash against Laser cards in Cuba.
While Western Union operates in Cuba, only Cuban nationals can access its services – foreign tourists cannot. There is no other way of transferring funds to Cuba.
Northern Irish and Scottish sterling bank notes/coins cannot be exchanged in Cuba.
Cuban authorities have implemented enhanced screening measures at all ports of entry in response to the H1N1 Flu influenza outbreak. Travellers entering or exiting the country, or reporting for domestic flights, may be subjected to medical examinations and, in some cases, quarantined for up to 7 days for medical observation if they are believed to have symptoms of the virus or have come into contact with a suspected carrier of the virus.
For up to date information on the epidemic in Cuba, please visit the website of the Cuban Ministry of Health - http://www.sld.cu/sitios/influenzaporcina/ (Spanish).
Malaria and dengue fever are endemic in low-lying rural areas of Cuba and outbreaks can occur throughout the year. If you plan to visit these areas, before travelling there you should consult your doctor about suitable anti-malarial medication and on arrival take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquito repellent and clothing covering as much skin as possible provides some protection, and swampy water should be avoided.
Recently there have been reports of an increase in dengue fever in some areas of Cuba, including Havana. Cuban public health authorities are undertaking insect control measures, including fumigation and aerial spraying. The chemicals can cause discomfort and travellers are advised to close windows and doors if fumigation is being carried out nearby.
Generally, Cuba’s medical services are acceptable, although basic medicine and equipment are not always available. You should bring any prescription drugs you take regularly. A copy of the prescription and a letter from your doctor explaining your condition can be helpful at customs. The medical facilities in Havana are better than those available elsewhere in the country, but it is sometimes necessary to medically evacuate those who require urgent specialist care. This can be very expensive so you should ensure that your medical insurance covers you for this. If you require medical treatment you will be expected to pay in hard currency; a basic hospital stay can cost as much as €250 per day plus medical expenses.
The hurricane season in Cuba extends from June to the end of November. Transportation, utilities, emergency and medical care, as well as food, fuel, and water supplies may be disrupted. You are advised to monitor local and international weather updates for the region by accessing, for example, the weather channel, or the National Hurricane Centre website
Irish citizens going to Cuba during the hurricane season are advised to leave a detailed copy of their travel plans with a family member or friend. You should also register with the Irish Embassy in Mexico City. In the event of an approaching hurricane, you should identify your local shelter. Flights in and out of affected could be delayed or suspended and available flights may fill quickly. You should contact your airline for the latest flight information. The hurricane could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, picture ID's, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. You should also contact friends and family in Ireland with updates about your welfare and whereabouts.
Please see the Hurricanes section of this website for further information and advice.
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS
The Embassy of Ireland in Mexico is accredited to Cuba. Contact details are available here. (Opens in new window)Top