Local laws and customs

Cuba has strict regulations governing the export of antiques and artworks. You should obtain and keep the receipt for anything you purchase as it may be requested by Customs on departure. Some art and antiques need an export permit from the Country Heritage Office (known as Bienes Culturales). It is advisable to ask the vendor if it is needed and they have the required permit for the item you are buying.

Professional photographers may need an import permit for their photography equipment, as well as the appropriate visa. The policy on importation of drones is under review and, for the time being, Cuban Customs advises visitors not to bring drones. They may be confiscated on arrival and returned on departure; these procedures may take some time.

Cuba has strict laws on unauthorised professional photography, and on taking unauthorised images of children, young people or women.

Cuba has strict laws on the use, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs. Cuban courts are handing out severe penalties for those convicted of drugs-related offences. Pack all luggage yourself and don’t carry items for anyone else.

Cuba prohibits the import of all meat products and fruit. If you arrive in Cuba with any meat or fruit, it will be confiscated and destroyed.

Avoid military zones and other restricted areas. Be particularly careful when taking photographs or videos in these areas, which are not always clearly signposted.

The Cuban authorities take a serious view of any breach of their immigration rules. In some cases those who overstay are detained by the immigration authorities on departure and detained while investigations into their activities are carried out.

Homosexuality is legal in Cuba, but there are few places where gay people can socialise openly. Same-sex couples - particularly if one partner is Cuban - should be careful about public displays of affection, which can lead to unwelcome attention from the police and local authorities. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.