Can I legally stay at my Cuban friends’ home?

Question: I would like to stay with friends in Santa Lucia, Camaguey. I am from Canada. Can I arrange the required visas in Canada before travel?
Do I have to get a tourist visa also?
Where is the nearest immigration office in Playa Santa Lucia, Camaguey?

Answer: Although one can apply for a “family stay” visa – which is what you will need to stay with your friends in Cuba – from outside the country, it is a long and time-consuming process. What is best is to arrive in Cuba with a tourist visa and then have this visa changed once there.

Officials at the Cuban Consulate in Toronto, Canada inform that one has 24 hours from the time of arrival to change a tourist visa to a “family stay” visa. What this means is that if you arrive in the later afternoon or evening, when immigration offices would already have closed, you can spend the first night at your friend’s home on your tourist visa, but you and your friend are required by law to report at the immigration office the next day to solicit the necessary visa change.

More precisely, you will need to go to immigration with the owner of the home where you wish to stay. Be sure to take your passport, tourist visa and return flight ticket. Sometimes the owner needs to show the propriedad (ownership papers) of the home. You will also need CUC 40 in sellos de timbre (tax stamps). It is up to the discretion of immigration whether or not the “family visa” will be issued.

As for locating the nearest immigration office to Playa Santa Lucia, your friends would be the best placed to find the one nearest their home, or you could ask for this information from immigration upon arrival. Please note: you will not be able to change your tourist visa to a “family stay” visa without the presence of the home owner.

4 thoughts on “Can I legally stay at my Cuban friends’ home?

  • It has changed to 48 hours apparently,you must apply with in that time.with a lawyer.

  • the situation is confusing a friend of mine went to emmigration dept and they made him payd 20 cuc per day to the emmigration dept order to stay to a friend home,plus 40 cuc for the paper work for him and plus 40cuc for the owner in cuba so my openion go to the consulate in Toronto or to attawa make shore that both of you understand each other, then book one or two days to hotel while you do go to emmigration dept see if they let you, otherwise you will get stuckbut the best bet is ones you there find a layer, there is cheap,

  • I don’t quite understand this. I have visited Cuba 5 times in the past 10 years, stayed with my uncle. My uncle is no longer in Cuba and I want to stay with a friend. Why can I not stay at my friends house? What’s so complicated?
    Thank you.

  • Actually your friend from Canada has 72 hours to report to MINIT
    and change the “classification” to Family.Normally, only close family ties, ie related by family to the person or marriage being visited is required to qualifie for the “family classification”.Aduana marks the visa on every trip with the same note which says you must report within 72 hours to change the classification.The home owner documentation and friend must accompany the application to MINIT. The home owner is also responsible for your friends behavior during the visa period. You should also be aware that the MINIT will do spot visits to the house you will visit, and your friends can not be present at the house after 10:00 pm or before 10:00 am unless they have the revised visa classification.This is from many trips and personal experience.Hope this helps

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