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Cuba

Last update 13 July 2018Diplomatic missions

Risk index

Level 1: Without special recommendations

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Republic of Cuba

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Havana, The Republic of Cuba
Address: 5-ta Avenida№ 6407, esquina de 66, Miramar, Playa, Ciudad de La Habana
Telephone: +537 204 67 66; +537 204 67 68
Out-of-hours  hotline: +535 286 24 49
Office hours: 08.30-17.00
Consular section: 09.30 - 12.30
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.mfa.bg/embassies/kuba

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Sofia
Address: Sofia 1113, 1 “Konstantin Shtarkelov” str.
Telephone: +359 2 872 09 96; +359 2 872 20 14
Fax: +359 2 872 04 60
Consular Office hours: Tue and Thu, 10.00 - 12.00 h
E-mail: [email protected]
E-mail: [email protected]

General information

Local currency

Cubahas two official currencies:

  • Cuban convertible peso (CUC)
  • National peso (Moneda naciona, or MN)

Transactions with foreigners are almost always made in CUC. Notwithstanding the foregoing, foreign tourists should also know the local peso, as cheating is a common practice when returning change or when exchanging money (the value of the Cuban convertible peso is higher than the value of national peso).

Not all foreign currencies can be exchanged at local money changers (CADECA) located in international airports, in the central districts, as well as in banks and hotels. The Bulgarian lev is not exchanged. Exchanging USD is possible but is subject to an additional 10% fee. CUCs can be exchanged at the airport before departure for USD and EUR, but outside Cuba cannot be exchanged.

Credit cards can be used in a very limited number of places. Credit cards issued in the U.S., such as American Express, are not accepted. Most other credit cards are accepted in larger shops and restaurants and in public hotels, restaurants and international hotel chains. Private restaurants (paladares) and private houses offering accommodation, are forbidden from accepting credit cards of any kind.

ATMs are few and not always functional. In Havana CUC from Visa credit cards can be drawn from ATMs situated in Centro Comercial Miramari and in some hotels. In Varadero, ATMs are located on Plaza America and in banks.

Crime and security

In general, Cuba is considered a safe country. Visiting Bulgarian citizens should avoid, as a precautionary measure, presence at any kind of political demonstrations.

There is information for a recent rise in thefts and robberies against foreign victims, especially in Havana (districts Old Havana, Havana Centre, Malecon and Vedado), and Havana’s eastern beaches.

Theft of items from checked luggage at Cuban airports is very likely. Bags, including locked suitcases are opened and items are taken from them. All baggage is x-rayed on arrival and departure as a normal local procedure.

In recent years, there has been information of growth in violent crime.

Caution should be exercised, especially in the usual tourist destinations and crowded places.

Personal baggage, documents, money and travel tickets must be securely stored. You should not wear jewellery or indicate possession of large amounts of cash.

In case of robbery, you should remain calm and not resist. Once a complaint for the offense is filed before local police, a document (Comprobante de Denuncia), should be requested.

It is possible that police officers may speak only Spanish.

Legislation specifics

Cubaactively fights child sex tourism and a significant number of foreign tourists have been convicted for sex with minors. Sentences for such offenses range from 7 to 25 years in prison.

Participation in gray market trading and currency exchange outside of state exchange offices (CADECA), can lead to problems with Cuban authorities. Do not take luggage of other persons for transportation. Always prepare your own luggage yourself.

Crimes such as drug trafficking, armed assault, rape and illegal immigration assistance are strictly punished with large prison sentences.

Drink driving is also punishable. The admissible level of alcohol when driving in Cuba is 0.04%.

Court proceedings or police investigations are slow and lengthy.

Under the Cuban judicial system, charges are not raised until after the police investigation is complete and the suspected offender can be detained throughout the period of investigation. Although Cuba has a death penalty, to date it has not been applied to foreign nationals.

Visitors to Cuba should avoid military zones and all other strictly protected sites. They are not always marked. Photographing military or police sites or their employees, ports, railways and airports is prohibited.

Customs requirements

Tourists entering Cuban territory have the right to bring and then take out of the country the following items for personal use: cameras, video cameras hairdryer, electric shaver, portable radio and portable mp3 players and similar items for personal use, 1 laptop per person, cell telephone.

Items prohibited for import into Cuba include: drugs, medicines, weapons and explosives, pornography, literature that can be considered subversive, prohibited animal and plant species, easily perishable food, radio transmitting stations, wireless microphones, radio and TV transmitters and data-transfer systems (routers, switches, etc), if different from appliances for household use, GPS devices, satellite dishes and receivers, air conditioners and any small appliances that have a significant cost of electricity. Such articles are confiscated without compensation.

Cuban customs authorities can confiscate anything they deem is not for personal use for a single tourist trip.

They can also put excessive tariffs for passengers whose baggage exceeds 30 kg. Or who are carrying more than 10 kg of medical drugs.

Donations of any kind should be coordinated with the Cuban Embassy in Sofia.

From Cuba can be exported up to 20 cigars without evidence of their origin, or 50 if they are in an original box, closed and sealed with an official hologram and carried only in hand luggage. If this amount is exceeded, a certificate of origin needs to be presented. Failure to comply could lead to confiscation of cigars without compensation.

Works of art, old books and furniture, including sculptures and paintings purchased in Cuba should be accompanied by an export permit, usually issued by state galleries.

Otherwise, they should be registered in the National Register of Cultural Property (Registro Nacional de Bienes Culturales, Calle 17, No. 1009 e/10 y12, Vedado, telephone: +53 7 833 9658.

Road traffic

Urban buses are extremely irregular and usually overcrowded. Travel agencies usually provide good bus services between airports, hotels and tourist complexes. Buses used for organised day tours from the hotels also are generally in good condition.

Bulgarian citizens should avoid driving in Cuba, as traffic situation is complex. Road signs are inadequate.

Riders, cyclists, tractors, carts and pedestrians often find themselves in the middle of the roadway without any intention to give way to coming cars. Most of the cars are old, worn and poorly maintained. Few of the main streets are lit.

Traffic is not congested but still careful driving is advised, as Cuban drivers are careless, drive slowly, without complying with traffic signs and tend to signal with their hands, rather than with car lights. The central highway which crosses the island along its length is in good condition but other roads are not.

Road accidents are a common cause for the arrest and conviction of foreigners. Accidents causing death or bodily injury shall be considered a criminal offense and the driver is required to prove his innocence. Whatever the nature of the incident, somewhere between 5 months and one year may be necessary for it to come to trial. In most cases, drivers will not receive permission to leave Cuba until the process is finished. In some cases, the driver may be detained during that time.

Bulgarian citizens should exercise caution when returning a rented car in Cuba. Although they pay insurance when renting a car, covering the damage is not always the same as in Bulgaria. If you cause damage by your fault, rental agencies will void the insurance and request from you to restore the damage. Contracts for rented vehicles do not cover damage caused by another driver of the car and the person that has concluded the contract shall bear full responsibility.

Rental agencies are public and can prevent your departure from the country, unless all liabilities have been paid. Fines associated with traffic accidents can reach thousands of USD.

Radio taxis are generally safe. Unlicensed taxis should generally be avoided. Yellow tri-wheel Coco-Taxis are unsafe and should also be avoided.

It is not recommended to take hitchhikers.

Healthcare

In general, Cuban healthcare is acceptable, although basic medical services and equipment is not always available.

Cases of cholera reported in the capital of Cuba and in some towns in Cuba in early 2013

The first symptoms of the disease are severe diarrhea, which can reach up to 30-40 times per day and vomiting of slimy fluid. There is a rapid onset of dehydration of the patient, muscle pains, fatigue and minimum urinating.

At the first symptoms of the disease, immediately seek medical aid. Bulgarian tourists in the capital of Cuba should refer for help to the hospital Clinica Central Cira Garcia in Havana. The address of the hospital is: Calle 20, No.4001, Esquina Av. 41, Playa, La Habana, telephones: 204 2811; 204 2812; 204 2813; 204 2814. If you are in the country, refer to the closest medical establishment. Organized tourists should ask for assistance the administration of the hotels, in which they are accommodated.

For disease prevention, do not drink the water from the water-supply network, do not clean your teeth or make ice with this water. When using water from the water-supply network for the above needs, in all cases you should boil it in advance. It is advisable to use originally bottled mineral or spring water. Do not eat fresh fruits and vegetables without washing them (processing them with the respective preparations) and/or peeling them immediately before eating. Cook well the food and eat it when it is still warm. The cooked food should not come in contact with any fresh foods, with water or ice, dirty surfaces, wet or unclean cutlery, etc. Avoid purchasing food from street vendors.

The Cira Garcia Hospital in Havana is designed to serve foreigners (Clinica Central Cira García, Calle 20, No. 4101, Esquina Av. 41st, Playa; Telephone: 204 2811 by 14).

Most hospitals require proof of payment in advance. All payments for any treatment administered must be made before leaving the country.

Running water cannot be used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice cubes unless previously boiled.

People arriving in Cuba can be subjected to medical examination and, in rare cases, subjected to quarantine of up to 7 days, if suspected to have symptoms of H1N1 or have been in contact with carriers of the disease.

As in many other countries from the Caribbean and Latin America, travellers to Cuba should take precautions against mosquito bites by any providing themselves with repellents and avoiding wetlands and forest areas. There is information about a number of outbreaks of epidemics of dengue in Cuba.

There is also information about individual cases of viral meningitis, conjunctivitis and hepatitis A, including in urban areas of Havana.

Starting from May 1, 2010, all visitors to Cuba should provide health insurance. Upon arrival, they may be asked to present an insurance policy, an insurance certificate or a medical card valid for the period of stay in Cuba. Those who do not hold any of the above documents may be required to buy insurance from a Cuban insurance company upon arrival.

Foreign nationals permanently residing in Cuba should also have the appropriate insurance.

Travellers to Cuba should also be aware that Cuban authorities will not allow anyone to leave the country if they have unpaid bills for medical care.

All types of health medical insurance shall be recognised, except those issued by U.S. insurance companies, as they have no coverage in Cuba.

Climate

The hurricane season in the Caribbean starts from early June and lasts until late November. Flooding is possible during this period, and the ocean may reach up to 3-4 km inland. Transport, services (electricity, water, banks, medical services), including the supply of food items, may be discontinued. The Cuban system to protect the public from natural disasters is one of the best and if necessary up to 2 million people are evacuated from hazardous areas.

Bulgarian citizens should monitor weather forecasts and comply with them for the respective week HERE.

Travel papers and visas

A valid Bulgarian passport is required to visit Cuba. The passport should be valid for at least 1 (one) month after leaving Cuba.

Bulgarian nationals need to have a visa or a tourist card which can be obtained from travel agents upon purchase of a tour package.

For tourist visa, necessary documents are a passport, copy of the passport, 2 photos, and flight and hotel reservation.

Upon entry into Cuba, it is advisable to have a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds for the duration of stay.

Tourists who do not present evidence of pre-paid tourist services should demonstrate that they have funds to cover the minimum cost for a day stay ($ 50, equivalent to 50 Cuban convertible peso).

Dual Citizenship

Cuba does not recognise dual citizenship. Bulgarian citizens of Cuban origin should enter Cuba with their Cuban passports. They should show a valid Bulgarian passport when leaving Cuba. According to Cuban law, the Government of Bulgaria cannot provide consular services to Bulgarian citizens or nationals of Cuba who are permanent residents in Bulgaria.

Bulgarians, who were born in Cuba (regardless of their current nationality) may have problems when entering and leaving Cuba and should therefore check with the Embassy of Cuba in Sofia, on how to meet Cuban immigration regulations. If they do not perform the above, they may not be admitted on Cuban territory, or may be detained when entering, or they could be prevented from leaving Cuba by Cuban immigration authorities.

Practical advice

Marriage to a Cuban citizen does not mean an automatic permission to stay in Cuba. For residence in the home of the husband or wife, you should obtain a personal visa, which provides you with the right to register with the local authorities. Upon failure to comply with these provisions, the Cuban citizen (spouse) may be fined or jailed.

Under current U.S. law, residents of the United States, including Bulgarian citizens, are not allowed to spend money (any currency) in connection with travel to Cuba, unless authorised by the United States Department of the Treasury (Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). For More information, please contact OFAC by Telephone: 202-622-2000.

Cubans accompanying foreigners in restaurants and hotels may be asked to show their ID documents and denied access.

Visitors to Cuba should refrain from doing any business when travelling on a tourist visa.

Power disruptions are common but most hotels are equipped with generators.

Telephone connections are generally problematic. Calls, including to major institutions, may remain unanswered. There are also technical problems and you can be connected with a number other than the number dialled. There is reliable mobile connection in cities. Bulgarian mobile telephones usually work if tailored to North American standards. In need of a local cell telephone, you should contacted Cubacel at 05264 2266.

Competitive service

Certification and Legalisation

Cuba is not a signatory to the Hague Convention for certification by “Apostille” of public acts.

The certification and legalisation procedure for documents from Cuba for the Republic of Bulgaria is, as follows:

  • the document is endorsed by the Foreign Ministry of Cuba;
  • endorsement by the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Cuba.

The certification and legalisation procedure for documents from the Republic of Bulgaria for Cuba is, as follows:

  • endorsement by “Apostille” from the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry;
  • Certification by the Embassy of Cuba in Sofia;
  • Certification by Foreign Ministry of Cuba.

Thus formed, documents must be accompanied by a translation certified under the same procedures.

Issuance of Bulgarian identity documents

Due to lack of technical equipment for the collection of biometric data - fingerprints and photographs, the Embassy of Bulgaria in Mexico is temporarily not accepting applications for the issuance of new passports.

The Consular Office at the Embassy is accepting applications for the issuance of identity cards or driving licenses.

Civil status

At birth, marriage or death, the relevant documents need to be submitted - birth, marriage and death certificates bearing the stamps of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, legalized by Embassy stamps and recorded in the respective register. As soon as possible, copies of the registry and legalised local documents need to be sent to the respective municipality in Bulgaria via the “Consular Relations” Directorate at the MFA.

Charges

Visas

Tourist visa – USD 35.00

Business and other visas – USD 70.00

Exit airport charge – CUC 25.00 (compulsory payment in local currency)

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