Question: My husband and I are traveling to Cuba in 1 month, and we hold Australian passports. We are trying to come to grips if a Tourist Card (apparently issued at the airport) is the same as a Tourist Visa?
Answer: The short answer is yes, each is a legal document that allows you to enter the country.
A Cuban Tourist Card (called a Visado Tarjeta del Turista in Spanish and sometimes referred to as a Cuban Visitors Visa), issued by travel agents and airlines, must be accompanied with a current passport. These are the only two documents tourists need to enter Cuba.
Canadian airline carriers include a Cuban Tourist Card in the cost of the air ticket, and they are provided on flight. Mexicana, Cubana and other carriers usually require that the Cuban Tourist Card be purchased from them, at the airline check-in counter, before departure to Cuba. In Canada, the cost is generally between US $20-30.
Normally a Tourist Card allows you to stay in Cuba for 30 days. It is possible to be extended for another 30 days. The Tourist Card is only for tourism purposes. For carrying out any other kind of activities, the required visa must be applied for.
Any question about Cuban Tourist Cards should be directed first to your travel agent, and second to your airline.
Be aware that Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Cuba. The Australian Embassy in Mexico provides consular assistance to Australians in Cuba. The Canadian Embassy in Havana can also assist Australians.