Guidance

Living in Cuba

This guide sets out essential information for British national residing in Cuba including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.

Overview

This guide sets out essential information for British national residing in Cuba including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See Our Service information on what we can and cannot do for British nationals.

Entry requirements

Make sure you get the correct visa for the purpose of your visit. As well as tourist visas, there are other visa categories for different types of visitors as well as to settle and work in the country.

You should contact cubadiplomatica for advice on entry requirements for the specific purpose of your tip before you travel. Visas are issued by Cuban immigration authorities.

A valid British passport must be held for entry to and exit from the Cuba. If you are entering as a tourist your passport must be valid up to at least the date of your proposed departure from Cuba. If you plan to stay in Cuba for any other purpose and a longer period of time, your passport should have at least six months’ validity.

Health

Health Care is free for Cuban nationals.

Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices

Medical facilities in Havana are better than elsewhere in Cuba, but you may need to be medically evacuated if you need specialist care. This can be very expensive. If you need medical treatment you - or your insurance company - will be expected to pay in hard currency. A basic hospital stay can cost as much as £200 per day plus medical expenses. Psychiatric care facilities for foreigners are extremely limited and difficult to access. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Many medicines are unavailable in Cuba. You should bring any prescription drugs you take regularly. A copy of the prescription and a letter from your doctor explaining your condition may be helpful at customs. For further information visit our Travel Advice

Finances

Cuba operates a dual currency system. Visitors usually use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), whereas locals use the Cuban Peso (CUP). The CUP is worth much less than the CUC; check transaction sums carefully. US Dollars aren’t accepted as legal tender; you’ll be charged 10% commission to exchange them.

Check with your bank before you travel to confirm that your debit/credit/ATM cards will work in Cuba. If your bank can’t confirm this then you should bring sterling or euros in cash, or travellers cheques. Bank notes should be in good condition with no tears, rips or markings. American Express travellers cheques are not accepted in Cuba.

Travellers cheques and credit cards drawn on American banks are not accepted. There are virtually no ATMs available for drawing cash against Cirrus or Switch cards. Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes can’t be exchanged. Credit card transactions, including withdrawals from ATMs, are subject to local commission charges of approximately 3% in addition to your bank transaction charges.

Don’t change money anywhere other than at Cadeca exchange houses, large hotels or banks, due to the prevalence of forged currency. Always check transactions carefully. Where possible ask for small denomination bills. Ignore individuals offering exchange facilities to avoid queues.

Banco Central de Cuba

Property purchase

You should consult Cuban lawyers with relevant experience on related matters before purchasing any property in Cuba on private/business purposes.

Cuba list of lawyers

There is no Legal Section in the British Embassy and Consular staff are not legally trained; therefore we are not able to advise you on legal matters, interfere in private disputes over property, or other issues. However, we can provide you with a list of lawyers.

Education

Few bilingual schools are available in Cuba/ See links enclosed:

International School of Havana French School of Havana

Education is free for Cuban nationals. Further information on Education in Cuba can be found at Ministerio de Educación de la Republica de Cuba

Benefits

British Nationals may be entitled to UK while living in Cuba. Find information on getting your pension in Cuba

Driving licences and vehicles

Residents and visitors are required to hold a valid licence or permit. Visitors will be able to use the original ones issued in their own countries up to 6 months from their date of entry in Cuba.

Further permissions should be arranged by submitting an application for a local licence at the related office located in the municipality the person resides in. Useful link on driving abroad

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 1 June 2015
Last updated 29 January 2018 + show all updates
  1. Amended January 2018
  2. First published.