Last update 09 August 2023Diplomatic missions
Level 3: Increased level of risk (recommendation not to travel in certain areas of the country unless necessary)
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Regular passport: visa not required
Diplomatic passport: visa not required
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Republic of Cuba
Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Havana, the Republic of Cuba
Address: 5-taavenida № 6407, esquinaa66, Miramar, Playa, CiudaddeLaHabana
Telephone: +53 7204 67 68 and +53 7204 67 59
Out-of-hours hotline: +535 286 24 49
Working hours: Monday – Friday, 08:30 – 17:00
Opening hours of the Consular Office: Monday – Friday, 09:30 – 12:30
E-mail: [email protected]
Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Sofia
Address: Sofia 1113, 1 Konstantin Shtarkelov St.
Telephone: +359 2 872 09 96; +359 2 872 20 14
Fax: +359 2 872 04 60
Consular Office: Tue and Thu, 10:00 – 12:00
E-mail: [email protected]
Cuba is generally considered a safe country. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of cases of foreigners who have been victims of theft, especially in the city of Havana (Old Havana, Havana Center and Vedado neighbourhoods), as well as on the coastal boulevard of Malecon and on Havana's eastern beaches. Information on crimes /small street thefts/ with violence and use of cold weapons is increasing. It is recommended that tourists' attention be increased, especially at night in the usual tourist destinations and crowded places. There have been cases of stolen bags and belongings of Bulgarian citizens in restaurants, night bars, as well as missing money and personal belongings from hotel rooms.
Personal luggage, documents, money and travel tickets should be kept in a safe place, safe deposit box. Carry copies of personal documents. It is advisable not to wear expensive jewellery and not to demonstrate possession of a large amount of cash. In the event of a robbery, a complaint about the crime should be made to the local police, where a document (Comprobante de Denuncia) confirming the incident should be requested. In case of stolen Bulgarian identity documents, you should notify the Embassy in order to have them declared invalid in a timely manner.
Bulgarian tourists in the Cuban capital can turn to the hospital Clinica Central Cira Garcia in Havana for help. The address of the hospital is: Calle 20, No 4001 Esquina Av. 41, Playa, La Habana, telephone numbers: 7204 2811; 7204 2812; 7204 2813; 7204 2814, and in the countryside — to the nearest health facility. In the case of organised tourism, assistance should be sought from the administration of the hotels where the tourists are staying.
In most hospitals, payment must be guaranteed in advance by presenting insurance, debit or credit card, cash. All payments for treatment must be made before leaving the country. Cuban authorities do not allow anyone to leave the country if they have unpaid medical bills.
As of 1 May 2010, all visitors to Cuba must present health insurance. On arrival in the country, you may be asked to produce an insurance policy, insurance certificate or medical assistance card valid for the period of your stay in Cuba. Those who do not possess any of the above documents may be required to purchase insurance from a Cuban insurance company locally.
Running water cannot be used for drinking or making ice unless it has been pre-filtered and boiled. Bottled mineral or spring water is recommended. Raw fruits and vegetables should not be eaten without being thoroughly washed. Prepared food purchased from street vendors should be avoided.
As in many other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, travellers to Cuba should take precautions against mosquito bites. Cuba has outbreaks of the aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which spread Dengue fever and Chikungunya virus, which are endemic to the Latin America and Caribbean region. Mosquitoes ‘aedes’ are most active during daylight hours. Attention should be particularly heightened early in the morning and before sunset. There is also a risk of Zika infection.
With symptoms of illness, medical attention should be sought immediately.
The MFA recommends that travellers follow the advice of the Ministry of Health and the Bulgarian Red Cross to protect themselves against mosquito bites and infection with the Zika virus: http://www.redcross.bg/advice/zika.html
Cuban health authorities first confirmed the presence of Chikungunya virus /CHIKV/ in the country on 18 June 2014 in a Ministry of Public Health announcement. The incubation period of CHIKV is about seven days. Symptoms characteristic of the disease are: high fever, severe joint pain, swelling, back pain, and in some cases a skin rash. Infection can cause acute, sub-acute and chronic disease, the latter two can lead to immobility of patients.
Specifics of the local legislation:
Cuba is actively fighting against child sex tourism. A significant number of tourists have been convicted of having sex with minors, with sentences for such offences ranging from 7 to 25 years imprisonment. Crimes such as drug trafficking, armed assault, rape, facilitating illegal immigration, forging bank cards and withdrawing money with them are also punished with long sentences.
The permissible blood alcohol content for driving in Cuba is 0.04%. Drunk driving is punishable. Court proceedings and police investigations are slow and lengthy procedures and can take years. Conditions in Cuban prisons are harsh.
Visitors to Cuba should avoid military zones and any other heavily guarded sites that are not always signposted. It is forbidden to take photographs of military and police facilities and their personnel, ports, railways and airports.
The import of: narcotics, certain medicines, weapons and explosives, pornographic materials, literature that may be considered subversive, prohibited animal and plant species, perishable foods, radio transmitting stations, drones, wireless microphones, radio and TV transmitters if other than household, data systems (routers, switches, etc), GPS units, satellite dishes and receivers, air conditioners, and any small electrical appliances that have a significant electrical power draw is forbidden in Cuba. Such items shall be confiscated without compensation.
Customs authorities can confiscate anything they deem not to be for personal use on a tourist trip.
They can also apply high customs tariffs for passengers whose luggage exceeds 30 kg. Currently, local authorities allow the import of medicines in reasonable quantities without imposing customs tariffs.
Up to 50 cigars can be exported from Cuba without a document of origin. In the case of larger quantities, they must be declared to the competent customs authorities by presenting a certificate of origin, otherwise the case may be detained and the cigars confiscated.
Works of art, old books and furniture purchased in Cuba, including sculptures and paintings, should be accompanied by an export permit, usually issued by the state galleries. Another possibility is to register them in the National Register of Cultural Property: Registro Nacional de Bienes Culturales, Calle17, No 1009 e/10 y12, Vedado, telephone: +53 7 833-9658.
City buses are extremely irregular, outdated and usually overloaded. Travel agencies usually provide good bus services between airports, hotels and resorts. The buses used for day tours organized by the hotels are also in good condition.
Radio taxis are usually secure. Unlicensed vehicles offering taxi services should be avoided. Yellow three-wheeled ‘coco-taxis’ are unsafe and should also be avoided.
The road situation in Cuba is complicated, therefore it is preferable for Bulgarian citizens to avoid driving in the country or to be extra vigilant when this is unavoidable.
Road signs are inadequate and often confusingly placed. Motorcyclists, bicyclists, tractors, pedestrians, carts and livestock often end up in the middle of the roadway.
Many of the vehicles are old and not well maintained, which creates the conditions for accidents. In general, Cuban drivers drive inattentively, disregarding the traffic situation and signs, and prefer to signal with their hands instead of using their turn signals.
The main highway running the length of the island is in relatively good condition, unlike most of the other roads. Driving at night is not recommended.
It is not recommended to hitchhike.
Road accidents are a frequent cause of arrest and conviction of foreigners. Regardless of the nature of the incident, it can be between 5 months and a year before a trial is reached. In most cases, drivers are not allowed to leave Cuba until the trial is completed.
Bulgarians should be careful when returning a rental car. Even though they pay for insurance when renting the car, the insurance coverage is not always the same as in Bulgaria. If the damage is your fault, it is very possible that the agency that rented the car will cancel the damage cover and ask you to pay for the damage. Rental agencies are state-owned and can prevent your departure from the country if you do not pay all your debts to them.
Telephone connections are problematic and often unreliable. Calls, including to important institutions, may go unanswered. Due to technical problems, you may be connected to a number other than the one you have dialled. Reliable mobile connectivity exists in major cities. Usually, cards from Bulgarian mobile operators work in Cuba if they are adapted to North American standards and have roaming. Cubacel should be contacted on +53 52642266 if you need to purchase a card from a local mobile operator.
In Cuba, the American standard for electrical voltage is 110 volts. However, there are also 220 volts in the large hotel chains.
Tap water in Cuba is not drinkable and cannot be used to make ice unless it has been boiled first. Bottled mineral or spring water should be drunk. Raw fruits and vegetables should not be eaten without being washed. It is not recommended to buy food offered by street vendors.
National Peso (CUP)
USD 1 = CUP 120
Cuban authorities remind that the use of US dollars in the country for cash payments is prohibited. Payments are permitted in several freely convertible currencies — Canadian dollar, euro, pound sterling, Japanese yen and Mexican peso. You can also pay in Cuban pesos — CUP. A system of pre-paid cards with internationally convertible currency — MLC (USD 1 = MLC 1), which can be purchased at exchange offices at airports, ports, hotels and tourist areas, has also been introduced. With these cards, tourists can pay for services in Cuba. The validity period of the cards is two years. Upon leaving the country, amounts on them that have not been spent can be refunded to the bearers if they so wish.
Hurricane season in the Caribbean is from early June to late November. During a hurricane or tropical storm, transportation, services (electricity, water, banking, medical care), including food supplies, may be suspended indefinitely.
It is advisable to monitor the information on http://severe.worldweather.org/; http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tropical-cyclones.
Travel papers and visas
Bulgarian citizens must have a visa issued by the relevant Cuban Embassy or a tourist card, which can be obtained from tour operators when purchasing a travel package.
It is necessary that 72 hours prior to travel all passengers check in at www.dviajeros.mitrans.gov.cu/inicio where they will receive a QR code which must be presented to border authorities on arrival. Without it, access to the country may be denied.
The passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of entry into the country. It is advisable to have at least two blank pages for affixing the appropriate stamps.
Visitors to Cuba should refrain from engaging in any commercial activity when travelling on a tourist visa. For business travel, a business visa must be obtained in advance. Cultural events also require a cultural visa.
Cuba does not recognise dual nationality. Bulgarian citizens with Cuban citizenship should enter Cuba with their Cuban passport. They must show a valid Bulgarian passport to leave Cuba.
Bulgarians who were born in Cuba and do not have a Cuban passport may have problems entering and leaving Cuba, so they should check with the Cuban Embassy in Sofia whether they meet Cuban immigration regulations.
Marrying a Cuban national does not automatically mean obtaining a residence permit in Cuba. A personal visa, which grants the right to register with the local authorities, must be obtained for the spouse to stay in the home. If these provisions are not complied with, the Cuban national (spouse) may be fined or imprisoned.
Cuban authorities have stepped up health screening on entry into the country, including at Havana's José Martí International Airport. If arrivals have a high fever or symptoms of infectious diseases and illnesses such as Zika, they may be subject to medical examination. In some cases, placement under medical supervision for up to 10 days is possible.
Travel for children under 18 years of age
In the case of travel by children under 18 years of age, proof of citizenship, valid travel documents and certified written consent (power of attorney) from one or both parents, as appropriate, must be provided.
For visa information beyond that provided in these recommendations, travellers should contact the Embassy of Cuba in the Republic of Bulgaria /at the above address/ or the relevant diplomatic/consular mission of Cuba in the country of residence.
Issuance of identity documents:
Bulgarian citizens residing in Cuba and the Caribbean countries may apply at the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Havana for a new passport, identity card, driving licence and Emergency Travel Document. Upon acceptance of applications for Bulgarian identity documents, biometric data is taken, which requires the applicants to be present in person. Consular services are paid in euros.
Bulgarian citizens who are on the territory of the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other countries with consular coverage by the Embassy in Havana can also be assisted in obtaining a temporary travel document — Emergency Travel Document (ETD) from the Embassy of another EU Member State based in the respective country.
Certifications and legalizations:
Cuba is not a party to the Hague Convention for the certification of public documents with an Apostille.
Pursuant to Article 12 of the Treaty on Legal Assistance in Civil, Family and Criminal Matters between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Cuba, ‘documents drawn up or authenticated by competent authorities in the territory of one of the Contracting Parties or submitted with an officially certified translation in accordance with the prescribed form shall be valid in the territory of the other Contracting Party without legalisation. The same shall apply to documents of nationals whose signatures have been authenticated in accordance with the provisions in force in the Contracting Party concerned.’