HAVANA TIMES – Traveling has always been difficult for Cubans, who are often considered potential immigrants. Beyond the expenses, the bureaucratic procedures for the visa become a real headache.
After the government eliminated the exit permit to leave the country since January 2013, as part of Immigration Reforms, every year the number of Cubans traveling abroad increases, except of course during the pandemic.
While some visit relatives, many do it more for economic needs than for tourist enjoyment. Abroad they look for merchandise and products to supply their families or to sell them later in Cuba. Others simply try to find the means to establish themselves in a country with better opportunities.
According to the updated Henley passport index, a Cuban one occupies 84th place in a world ranking of 116 positions. This ranking assesses the “power” of passports according to the number of countries to which their bearers can enter without a visa.
In Latin America, Chile is in first place with position 16, with open entry to 174 countries. For their part, Argentina and Brazil are in 19th place, with 170.
The passports of Pakistan (32), Syria (29), Iraq (28), and Afghanistan (26) close the ranking.
Most Latin American passports represent more possible destinations for their citizens than Cuba’s, with the exception of other islands such as the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
The passport issued by Havana only facilitates a quick process of entry to 64 countries, some without a visa; others ask the applicant to go through an approval process upon arrival at its borders, and India requires them to apply first for an electronic travel authorization (eTA).
Visa-free countries for Cubans
Several countries exempt Cubans from visas under bilateral agreements; Citizens of those territories are not required to have a visa to enter Cuba either.
The figure has varied in recent years, but currently there are 32 nations that do not require a visa for Cubans.
The citizen’s visa-free represents a door of entry without major restrictions to other countries, although this permission does not mean that they can remain indefinitely in those territories.
Among the countries to which Cubans can travel visa-free on the American continent and the Caribbean are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Saint Lucia.
The Government of Guyana announced in June that it would impose an entry visa requirement on citizens of Cuba and Haiti in the face of growing irregular immigration.
However, as of the date of this publication, the visa had only been imposed on Haitian citizens; in addition to having at least one of the doses of the vaccination schedule. The official list does not yet recognize the vaccines made in Cuba.
Therefore, that represents a difficulty for anyone who wants to travel to Guyana from the island, where only Cuban vaccines are being administered.
Saint Lucia, with a 45-day term, offers a great tourist attraction for its volcanic beach coasts, with reef diving sites, luxurious resorts and fishing villages.
In the case of Panama, the tourism card that allowed travel for a period of 30 days was suspended.
Nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that allow Cuban citizens to enter without a visa include Botswana, Gambia, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Namibia, Mongolia, Singapore, and Palestine.
Although countries such as Singapore, known as “the pearl of Asia”, do not put a time limit on their stay, Cubans choose closer destinations due to the high price of plane tickets, the stay and the cultural gap.
Meanwhile, in Europe and Oceania, Cubans can access the territories of Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Belarus, Macedonia, Vanuatu and Micronesia.
Without a doubt, Russia has become one of the main destinations visited by Cubans to buy goods that are later resold on the island. The visa-free entry to Russia has a term of 90 days. Those wanting to stay longer must get a student or work visa.
For its part, the Republic of Fiji, an archipelago of Oceania with more than 300 islands, can only be accessed with a diplomatic or official passport for 90 days.
Countries that do not require a visa for Cubans
- Granada: for a period of 60 days.
- Trinidad and Tobago: for a maximum period of 90 days.
- Dominica: for a period of 28 days.
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: for a period of 30 days.
- Saint Kitts and Nevis: for a period of 30 days.
- Saint Lucia: for a period of 45 days.
- Russia: for a period of 90 days.
- Belarus: for a period of 30 days.
- Montenegro: for a period of 30 days.
- Serbia: for a period of 90 days.
Asia and Oceania
- Singapore: no limits.
- East Timor: for a period of 30 days.
- Indonesia: for a period of 30 days.
- Laos: for a period of 30 days.
- Malaysia: for a period of 90 days.
- Maldives: for a period of 30 days.
- Mongolia: for a period of 30 days.
- Qatar: the visa is issued upon arrival in the country.
- Republic of Fiji: Only with diplomatic or official passport for 90 days.
- Cambodia: for a period of 30 days.
- Georgia: the visa is issued upon arrival in the country.
- Kyrgyzstan: for a period of 30 days.
- Kazakhstan: Only for short trips.
- Guinea Conakry: for a period of 90 days.
- Kenya: for a period of 90 days.
- Republic of Botswana: for a period of 90 days.
- Namibia: for a period of 90 days.
- Togo: for a period of 7 days.
- Seychelles: for a period of 30 days.
- Uganda: The visa is issued upon arrival in the country.
Countries where Cubans need to apply for a visa upon arriving at their borders
Armenia, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Iran, Guinea Bissau, Laos, Macao, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nepal, Palau, Samoa, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.