Q. My husband and I are planning to visit family next year near Washington DC. We thought of doing a trip through Mexico and Cuba on the way. With visa requirements now, would it be more sensible to leave that part of the trip for after we have visited the US?
A. What a fantastic add-on to your Washington DC trip! Both Cuba and Mexico are unmissable so it really depends on your preferred route – and then getting your head around the visa situation!
In a nutshell, all holidaymakers travelling to Cuba require an entry permit or tourist card. It will be either green or pink.
If you travel to Cuba via the USA, a pink visa is required. All Cuba land arrangements must be pre-booked and you may have to show proof of this to the airline and customs. I recommend carrying a printed copy of your itinerary on you at all times – and definitely not in your hold luggage (although a spare copy in there would also be wise). Pink visas cannot be purchased in New Zealand before you travel, but can be from your chosen airline at the time of check in. This can vary between airlines, but your travel agent will be able to advise you prior to travelling.
Now for the easier one! If you’re flying to Cuba from any country other than the USA, you’ll need a green visa. This one can be organised in advance. It’s a two-part card – Cuban immigration will take the first part when you arrive in Cuba and it’s your responsibility to keep the other half until departure. Then you’ll surrender it.