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Staying in Cuba


Can I stay with a local family ?
A stay in the house of a Cuban family is not permitted. The citizens can be fined up to 1500 $ (a small fortune). Foreign visitors have only two options: a stay at a (State) hotel or in a "Casa Particular", which is a private room rented per night. The room should have an official license.

Can I have dental implants performed?
Yes, the country has specialized clinics for dental implants. The price of one dental implant starts at 745.00 US $. For a complete overview, check prices and treatment at www.cirag.cu/ingles/implantes.htm

I am interested in a medical degree and scholarships. What are the requirements ?
For detailed information check with the Cuban embassy in your country. You can find more information and immigration requirements at the Havana university’s website: http://www.uh.cu
Note that for most courses a good basic knowledge of Spanish is needed.

What kind of money can I use?
The country has a dual currency system. There is the Peso Nacional (CUP), the currency for internal use. The local wages are paid by the State in Peso Nacional. The second money system is called the Peso Convertible (CUC) or the money used by tourists and foreigners. As a tourist you have to use the Peso Convertible (CUC). You can exchange money at the Cadeca (official state exchange offices) or at any Cuban bank. Canadian dollars, the Euro and Pound Sterling are accepted but avoid using US dollars. They are accepted but you will pay an extra 10% duty on the normal exchange rate.

Where can I buy cigars?
The original "Havana cigars" can only be bought at the official state shops, the official cigar factories and in some major state hotels. These cigars are provided with the official seal and hologram.
Do not buy cigars at a lower price from hustlers on the streets, barmen, etc., since these are all counterfeits. These counterfeit cigars are not bad but are made from tobacco waste and sold under a brand name. One of the best cigars is the Cohiba brand, but of course much depends on personal taste. An original Cohiba cigar sells for 10 up to 20 $ and more. Other fine cigars are Montechristo, Bolivar, Romeo y Julieta, Partagas and H.Upmann.

Can US citizens buy property on the island?
A US citizen can not buy property. All property in the country is state owned or registered in the name of a Cuban citizen. Citizens are not allowed to sell their property to foreigners. Only a house swap between Cubans is permitted, which is a rather complex operation. Sometimes money is involved in the transaction, but this is an illegal practice and the house can be confiscated.

Can I start a business?
If you are thinking of starting a small or medium-size business like a restaurant, bar or shop etc., think again. These kind of private businesses are not allowed in the country. The foreign companies that operate in the country are major enterprises based on a joint venture with a Cuban state company. In most cases the joint venture is based on a 51%-49% share ratio.

Can a US citizen have a residence in the country?
With a tourist visa (Tarjeta Tourista) a US citizen may stay in the country for 30 days. This visa can be extended to 60 days. After 60 days he or she will have to leave the country. There are some exceptions for volunteer work, medical treatment, study at the university, foreigners with a special work permit, etc. Permanent residence in the country is only permitted for foreigners married to a Cuban citizen.
The tourist visa for Canadian citizens is valid for 90 days and can be extended to 180 days.
Note: travel to Cuba is illegal for US citizens; the trip can only be made with a special license from the US Treasury department.

Can I send money to a friend in the country ?
Yes, you can send money through a Canadian company called Duales. They will transfer the money to a debit card issued in your friend’s name. Check their website: http://www.duales.com

Can I send a package or goods to Cuba ?
Yes and no. Do not send a parcel to the country, since each parcel is opened, it is not permitted to send food and customs duties have to be paid on each product of value. Besides, most packages sent by regular post disappear. A reliable way to send a package to Cuba is by using DHL courier services (http://www.dhl.com). Food and groceries can be sent through an online supermarket with warehouses in the country and can be paid with a Visa credit card (not issued by a US bank). Check this website: http://www.envioregalos.com

Can I study at a Cuban university ?
Yes, as a foreigner you can follow a course at Havana university. You have to apply for a special student visa. The Spanish language and Cuban culture are two popular courses for foreigners at the university. Check the complete requirements and more detailed information at the University

What is the best way to contact friends on the island?
The best way is to send an email. Your friend can open an email account at the Post Office (Correos de Cuba). Do not send letters or postcards with the regular postal services as 90% never arrives. Use registered or double registered post. Expensive but very reliable is the use of DHL courier services, which allows you to track your parcel on the internet.
Telephone calls are expensive and sometimes difficult to understand due to overload.



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