Cuban visa

Aug 6th, 2009, 04:15 AM
  #1  
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Cuban visa

I carry a British passport and live on the French side of the island of St Martin. I am contemplating a trip to Cuba with my girlfriend who lives in Connecticut (when she is not on the island !) and holds a US passport. Because of her location, we will fly from Canada, however I myself will (or so I understand) require a Visa. As a 'Brit' I am perfectly entitled to visit Cuba, but I do not know whether stamps in my passport from the Cuban immigration authority would cause me problems on my frequent visits to the US - I don't mind adding yet another stamp to my 3 year old 10 year passport which is already more than half full, and acts as a nice reminder of where I have travelled! Can anyone please tell me where I can obtain the neccessary visa, as naturally there are no Cuban Embassies or Consulates anywhere near me ? If really neccessary, I COULD go to Canada to obtain the Visa, but I don't know how long it would take to get it.
DavidSXM is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 04:42 AM
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According to Lonely Planet, you get your "visa" from the travel agency issuing your tickets. They call it a tourist card and it sounds more like a tax than a real visa. I would follow up with your travel agent.

As for entering the US, I don't see why this would be an issue for a non-US national. Your gf, of course, should ask that they not stamp her passport.
travelgourmet is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 05:07 AM
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Many thanks for that 'travelgourmet'. I will investigate while I am here in the US.
DavidSXM is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 06:08 AM
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The only issue is that the US is the one place you won't be able to get the tourist card. You would be better off contacting a Canadian travel agent.
travelgourmet is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 11:27 AM
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Thanks again for that. I will try a travel agent in Canada or on the Dutch side of SXM when I get back.
DavidSXM is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 12:09 PM
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Just realize that your girlfriend cannot legally travel to Cuba, whether she gets a visa or not. She is subject to a find of $10,000. While it's unlikely the Obama administration will keep enforcing the no-Cuba travel policy as strictly as the Bush administration, it's still a crime, so you need to go into it with your eyes open.

Yes, it's a stupid law, but it's still the law. It's her passport you should be worrying about. It won't be a problem for you.
doug_stallings is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 12:10 PM
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FYI: It might be easier to go to Cuba from the Dominican Republic or Jamaica. It's a much shorter flight for you, and might be cheaper for her as well, unless you really want to go to Canada.
doug_stallings is offline  
Aug 6th, 2009, 11:30 PM
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It actually isn't illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba, Americans just aren't allowed to spend ANY money there. Effectively a travel ban, but not exactly.

The upshot of this, of course, is that your gf should keep this on the down-low and, if they insist upon stamping her passport, then she could be in trouble.

I do have to ask, though, whether it is really worth the effort. I've had several friends who have gone, but once you get past the forbidden fruit aspects, I'm just not sure it is such a compelling destination to make the hassles worth it for an American.
travelgourmet is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 03:19 AM
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Thanks to everyone for the helpful comments and advice. I did some checking by phone with a travel agent on the Dutch side of SXM yesterday, and they confirmed the visa scenario, so at least that aspect is resolved. Flights from the Dominican Republic could be a good option for us, as my gf spends 7 to 8 months a year with me on the island. I return to SXM in about 10 days time, and she follows me a couple of weeks later, so I will investigate. Our reason for wanting to go to Cuba is because the island still seems to be in a 50s 'time warp' and if, as I expect, travel restrictions from the US are lifted - or significantly relaxed - the opportunity to see it 'as is' will very quickly disappear. We are also well aware of the potential fine for my gf, but really can't see the law being rigidly enforced now - unless she is very unlucky. It seems a nice idea to go to somewhere in the region that hasn't yet been ruined by tourists like us. As a matter of interest, and as an example, back in the early 1960s I learned to water ski from the beach of Paradise Island (which was then nothing more than a lump of sand owned by Mary Carter Paints)where we could go to just barbecue and relax - and look what has been done to it now - see what I mean ?!!
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Aug 7th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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Many Americans travel to Cuba. The "illegals" will not get their passport stamped. They simply have to ask the Cuban immigration officer not to do it. S/he will stamp a little piece of paper and insert it into the passport.

What does your gf do for living? Teachers, medical field professionals, news agencies employees, athletes, social workers, entertainers, students, can apply for an Dept of Treasury exemption for travel to Cuba. If granted, she can just hop on a direct NY, ATL or MIA flights to Havana. I believe Delta, Continental and American have daily non-stop flights to Havana.

Cuba has been ruined to some degree by the Canadian and European tourists. It's not the same anymore. Many mega resorts, hotels are being build daily. It's not our father's Cuba anymore...
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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Unfortunately she doesn't fall into any of those categories - she is a 'lady of leisure' who just day trades the NY Stock Exchange on a daily basis (occasionally with success!) That is why she can spend so much time with me on the island. Interesting tip anyway for anyone else.
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Aug 8th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Cuba is beautiful, and the people are really lovely. I, unfortunately didn't get to do what I wanted to when I was there but the inspiration to go came from this show called departures on oln. this is the site http://www.oln.ca/otherinfo.php?id=12&infoid=11 you should take a look, maybe find some clips of their travels to cuba on youtube or something. Enjoy your trip
AndyT is offline  
Jan 8th, 2010, 10:37 AM
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I hold Japanese passport and went to Cuba in 80's when I was a teenager. I think we flew from Miami to Havana.

Even at that time, we felt that we were in a 50's time warp. The town was in pastel colours and those 50's cars were just amazing. We peeked into grocery store – I recall seeing only Russian canned goods.

I really wonder what is like now.....do let us now if you went to Cuba.
Mochi7 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2010, 07:17 PM
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AAFF- realize this is an old post, but where did you get the info that any US carrier flies to Havana? None of them do, nor can they sell you a ticket whose destination is Cuba, even with an intermediate stop. A US citizen would have to fly to a point outside the US and buy a separate ticket to Cuba originating and ending outside the US.
And the exemption you mention is more than a matter of being in a certain profession. The travel must be for a specific, defined purpose such as attending a conference, doing research, teaching, journalistic research, etc. and the claim that it is must be substantiated.
Let's hope this craziness ends soon, but for now that is the way it is.
Seamus is offline  
Jan 8th, 2010, 08:17 PM
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Next time you fly through MIA, look at the flight monitors. you'll see a smattering of American Airlines flights to Cuba listed. Most of us are not eligible to be on them, but they sure exist.

Most US citizens who go have to fly via a third country. I am one of the few Americans I know in Costa Rica who HASN'T been to Cuba. There are daily SJO-HAV flights.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Jan 9th, 2010, 02:07 AM
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Seamus

There are direct flights between US and Cuba operated by US based carriers, American being one of the biggest ones. They are operated as sort of "charters", but regularly scheduled. You can't book it on line but anybody having the exemption plus any Cuban-Americans that are allowed once a year visit with their families use these flights to get to Cuba.

Next time when flying to/from/through Miami look at the departure/arrival boards and if you're there at the right time, you'll see MIA-Havana flights listed as either arriving or departing.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jan 9th, 2010, 08:10 AM
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OK, I see what you mean - their metal goes but they can't sell through regular channels.
Growing up I heard from elders about the wonderful times they had in old Havana, and I so look forward to the days when this asinine US policy is entirely revoked.
Seamus is offline  

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