Skip to main content

Cuba eases travel restriction for citizens

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Tue October 16, 2012
Cuban president Raul Castro has pledged to ease the country's travel restrictions.
Cuban president Raul Castro has pledged to ease the country's travel restrictions.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Cuban government is ditching two travel requirements
  • Getting rid of these documents will save travelers money
  • A traveler will need a passport, but not everyone can have one
  • President Raul Castro has pledged to do away with unnecessary restrictions

(CNN) -- Starting next year, Cubans traveling abroad will face fewer hurdles leaving the country.

The official news site Granma reported Tuesday that the Cuban government will no longer require a travel permit and a letter of invitation.

Until now, Cubans had to pay $150 for an exit visa. A resident in the country that the Cuban wanted to visit would also have to write a letter of invitation.

Read more: Raft with Cuban refugees sinks near Cancun

Romney wants Castro 'off this planet'
Controversy over Cuban dissident's death

Fees associated with the letter ran as high as $200. That's a steep price in a country where the average official monthly income is about $20.

Even with the two documents, a traveler could run up against a wall if the government denied an exit visa -- as it has done with many dissidents. Medical professionals are only allowed to leave Cuba to work for the government abroad.

But once the new requirements go into effect on January 14, travelers will only have to present a valid passport and an entry visa for the country where they are headed.

The move is part of the reforms that President Raul Castro promised when he took office in 2008.

Read more: Cuban Missile Crisis ground zero, 50 years on

At the time, he pledged to do away with unnecessary restrictions. And that year, he lifted prohibitions on Cubans staying in hotels and buying mobile phones.

The new change, however, does not mean that anyone wanting to travel will get a passport.

"The ordinary passport will be issued to the Cuban citizens who meet the requirements of the Migration Law," which is being modified, according to the report in Granma.

While the report does not say how the law will be altered, it does add that the government will fight brain -- and money -- drain "from the aggressive and subversive plans of the US government and its allies." It will do so by leaving in place measures to preserve "human capital created by the Revolution from the theft of talents practiced by the powerful nations."

Read more: Should U.S. raise a fist or offer a hand to Cuba?

CNNE's Nelson Quinones contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT