Monday, June 5, 2017

Cuban Visa Application for Filipino Passports: To Cuba or Not to Cuba

Getting into Cuba

I have researched thoroughly about going to Cuba as Filipino Citizens; so Cuba has 2 kinds of entry requirements for tourists, 1 is the Tourist Card and other one is the Tourist Visa.

The Tourist Card is quite easy to get, you just need to pay USD50 when you buy the ticket and you pick up the tourist card at the boarding area before you fly to Cuba.

Image result for tourist card cuba
photo from www.howtotraveltocuba.com
Getting into Cuba as a Filipino

Now, Tourist Visa is a whole different story.  We are one of the 19 countries that is required by Cuba to secure a visa before entering their country.  We are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka.  Honestly, I have no idea why we are part of this list, I didn't realize we do not have friendly relation with Cuba.

We do not have a Cuban Embassy in the Philippines.  We used to have one in Makati but during the Aquino administration, we closed down our Philippine Embassy in Havana, so they reciprocated.  So now, the Cuban Embassy in Malaysia has diplomatic jurisdiction over the Philippines; which means, visa applications must be sent to Malaysia.

sample Cuban Visa - thank you Ivan Man Dy
I emailed the Cuban Embassy in Malaysia and below are the list of requirements for A-1 Tourist Visa:

  1. Valid Passport with no less than 9 months remaining validity
  2. Photocopy in color of the passport
  3. Confirmed returned e-ticket with proof of purchase attached with e-payment/ invoice/ receipt from the tour agency
  4. Signed and completed application form
  5. 1 passport size photo 
  6. Confirmed hotel reservation in Cuba
  7. Letter from the bank of Financial Statement that proves the financial solvency of the applicant for the trip.

I'm attaching the file that I got from the embassy for more thorough instructions and requirements.

So I plan to stay in Cuba for about 5 days or so.  So to file for a visa, it will cost me RM262 and a non-personal application fee of RM119.  The exchange rate of Malaysian Ringgit to Philippine Peso is 11.57, which totals to PHP 4,572.

Not only that, we need to deposit it to their bank account so bank charge for transfer is about USD10, or PHP500.

Shipping of our passport, which is classified as non-document in FedEx costs PHP1,340 one way.  Then I will have to prepay the FedEx cost coming back from KL to Manila, which I am assuming around the same price, let's say PHP 1,500.

Not only do I have to book and PAY for ALL my hotel reservations, I have to show them proof of receipt and invoice for the plane ticket! Which means I cannot make a phony booking of my ticket.  This also does not guarantee that I get an approved visa (although I highly doubt my application will be rejected).

So in total, I would need to spend about PHP 7,912 just to get a Cuban visa to visit for 5 days.

To Cuba or Not To Cuba, that is the question.

I have a Filipino passport and have long accepted the fact that I would need to apply for visas whenever I travel.  I paid USD150 for my 10 year US Visa; paid EUR150 for my Schengen Visa (that lets me into 26 EU countries); paid nothing for my 1 year Korean visa, and PHP2000 for my 3-year Japan Visa.  So spending almost PHP8,000 for 5 days in Cuba is really too much for me.  I don't really know if it's worth it.

I have spoken to 2 different people personally that have been to Cuba using only a tourist card, also read the blog of Kach Medina of Two Monkeys who did the same.  But I also spoke with Ivan Man Dy and Ivan Henares who have been to Cuba and applied for a tourist visa!  Funnily enough though, they were stopped at the immigration because they have never seen a tourist visa before haha, I guess they don't have enough Filipino tourists to realize that we actually need a visa.

So, I'm gonna risk it!  I'm going to get a ticket from Miami and see if they let me in Cuba, if not then I'll just fly directly to Colombia!  Fingers crossed!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Candie! I was just wondering if you were able to push through with the trip? I'm planning to go to Cuba, but I can't really find any info online for Filipinos! So far, your blog has been the most helpful. :) Read somewhere that a tourist card IS a tourist visa, that got me more confused, haha!

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