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Money and duty free for Cuba

Currency and Money

Currency information

Convertible Peso (CUC; symbol CUC$ or $) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of CUC$100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 3 and 1. Coins are in denominations of CUC$1, and 50, 25, 10, 5, and 1 centavos.

Note: US Dollars are no longer accepted in Cuba and visitors will be charged 10% commission on exchanging them. In the 1990s, Cuba decided to slowly get rid of its Dollar reserves, banning the currency from general use and introduced the replacement CUC as a convertible currency under its control. CUCs cannot be purchased or exchanged outside of Cuba. Cuban nationals continue to be paid in the Cuban Peso (CUP; symbol CUP$ or $). In some tourist areas, the Euro is also accepted. Hard currency (ie CUCs not CUPs) must be used in most transactions. As of March 2011, 1CUC=1USD.

Credit cards

Mastercard and Visa are increasingly accepted, provided they are not issued by a US bank, or a bank with links to the USA, but hefty fees are often added. ATMs are more common but not ubiquitous. However, cash can be obtained in banks and Cadecas with non-US Visa credit and Visa debit cards.

Since June 2016, two American issued Mastercard debit/credits cards have been accepted in Cuba: Stonegate Bank and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.

ATM

ATMs are more common but not ubiquitous, but cash can be obtained in banks and Cadecas (Casas de Cambio) with non-US Visa credit and Visa debit cards.

Travellers cheques

US Dollar, Pounds Sterling and other major currencies are accepted; US Dollar cheques issued by US banks are not accepted but American Express travellers cheques issued by non-US banks can be exchanged, though not everywhere. It is recommended to take cheques in a currency other than US Dollars.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1200 and 1330-1600, Sat 0830-1200. Hours may vary and banks may be open all day in larger cities.

Currency restrictions

The import and export of local currency is prohibited. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, subject to declaration of funds exceeding US$5,000 on arrival. Export is allowed up to the amount imported and declared.

Currency exchange

Money should be exchanged at banks or state-run CADECAs. You will be required to present your passport at all Cadecas and Banks when exchanging money. Dollars attract a 10% surcharge on top of the normal commission (US citizens should bring Euros or Sterling to exchange). All local currency must be exchanged again before leaving the country. Card transactions attract a surcharge (of up to 12.5%) - see below.

Cuba duty free

Overview

The following items may be imported into Cuba by travellers aged 18 years and over without incurring customs duty:

• 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 3L alcoholic beverages.
• Laptop for personal use.
• Gifts up to a value of CUC$50.99.
• Medicines required for personal use.

Banned Imports

Prohibited items include animal products, explosives, certain household appliances, and all pornographic material and drugs. 

Restricted items requiring authorisation include firearms and ammunition, light motor vehicles, live animals and plants and their parts, certain foodstuffs, and works of art.

Note that electrical items with heavy power consumption may be confiscated and returned upon departure.

Banned Exports

Drugs, explosives, pornography, items of cultural value, manuscripts dating from between 1440 and 1500, library books, books edited by Libros Cubanos under the 'R' imprint, foreign editions published between the 16th and 18th centuries, Cuban editions published in the 18th century, and lobster in any form or quantity.

Note that if taking cigars out of Cuba, you may take up to 50 cigars. These must be unopened and sealed in their original packaging and you must be able to show a receipt proving you bought them in an authorised shop, otherwise they will be seized. The export of raw tobacco and supplies used in the tobacco industry is strictly prohibited.

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