The UK Governments foreign travel advice states that Cuba is considered a safe place to visit. The vast majority of tourists that visit the island have a safe and enjoyable stay. That said as with any destination there are do’s and dont’s and precautions that you can take to make sure you avoid any pitfalls. We have listed key points of advice below, for more information visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
You must take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. You will be expected to present your insurance policy on arrival in the country.
Do not drink tap water, only bottled water. Dengue Fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean. There have been confirmed cases of Cholera, including in Havana but usually in rural communities. The risks are very low but it’s wise to take precautions.
You will need a valid UK Driving Licence to drive in Cuba. If you rent a car make sure the insurance includes local third party cover. All drivers and passengers of motorcycles and scooters are required by law to wear a crash helmet. In view of serious accidents that have involved tourists, you should not use mopeds or three wheel Coco-Taxis for travel around Cuba.
Driving standards are variable. Many vehicles, including public transport, are badly maintained. Roads are poorly lit and sign-posted. Beware of cyclists, potholes and cars that stop without warning to pick up hitch-hikers. Vehicles that break down are often left on the road until repairs can be made. Avoid driving at night, when animals and unlit vehicles are a real danger. Radio taxis are generally reliable. Avoid private taxis and the older model private cars being offered as taxis which lack proper licencing and modern safety features.
Don’t drink and drive. Laws are strict and you will be prosecuted if caught.
Cuba has strict laws on the use, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs. Cuban courts are handing out severe penalties for those convicted of drugs-related offences. Pack all luggage yourself and don’t carry items for anyone else.
Cuba has low crime rates. Crime against tourists is mainly in the form of opportunistic theft. Car related crimes, muggings and general theft like bag snatching and pick-pocketing do happen from time to time, especially in Old Havana, on buses and trains, at major tourist sites and in nightclubs, but they are not common. Hi-tech items like phones and laptops are highly sought after in Cuba and are particularly attractive to thieves so keep items secure and not on display. Take care in central Havana at night. Take taxis rather than walk and make sure the taxi is a registered one and not a private vehicle, there are bogus taxis operating.
There have been instances of theft from luggage during baggage handling, both on arrival and departure. Keep valuables on your person and if possible lock suitcases.
If possible carry a copy of your passport and lock the original away. Beware of thefts from rooms, particularly in private guest houses (casas particulares).
Cuba is a one-party state. There is a high level of social control and a strong police presence. There are widespread restrictions on freedom of speech, association and assembly for Cuban nationals. Political demonstrations or gatherings not sanctioned by the government may be broken up. You should avoid demonstrations or large public gatherings.
Avoid military zones and other restricted areas. Be particularly careful when taking photographs or videos in these areas, which are not always clearly signposted. The Cuban authorities take a serious view of any breach of their immigration rules.
The Gay Scene
Homosexuality is legal in Cuba, but there are few places where gay people can socialise openly. Same-sex couples, particularly if one partner is Cuban, should be careful about public displays of affection which can lead to unwelcome attention from the police and local authorities.
In some cases those who overstay are detained by the immigration authorities on departure and detained while investigations into their activities are carried out.
If you do fall victim to any sort of crime or you are involved in accident, contact the British Embassy for help and advice. The address is;
Calle 34 no. 702 esq 7ma
Phone: + 537 214 2200
Fax: +537 214 2218
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am to 3.30pm