Where Cubans Can Go Without a Visa

January 17, 2013 | Print Print |

Yasmín S. Portales Machado

Illustration by Yasser Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES — As of Wednesday we’re allowed to leave, but in Cuba we’re proceeding with caution in this matter.  Where will they accept us?  How much is our money and our resourcefulness worth?  Nothing is certain or made easy for us, since several consulates have already increased their requirements for issuing a visa.

One piece of information circulating widely at this very moment is the list of countries that don’t require this preliminary procedure.  The data is pertinent, although it remains to be seen how quickly it may change.  Ecuador has just announced that as of January 21 it will require a letter of invitation legalized by the Consulate in order to enter their territory.  All right, so we’re left with 34 other possible destinations!

And it’s not only about the visa.  You have to do some accounting: where are the prices lowest, the possibilities of employment best, the streets the calmest (it’s not about going to the Gaza Strip either).  In this XXIst century, emigrating is ever less an act of faith that “anywhere will be less miserable than where I am,”, and more a choice about where our acquired skills might yield the best results.

For that reason, I began to think about the laws and customs.  Few Cuban women, I imagine, would be interested in going to Saudi Arabia and be left without even the right to drive a car.  Few Cuban gays would be interested in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death.  Given that thought, it occurred to me to cross-reference the list of countries that (still) don’t require a visa with each one’s laws regarding homosexuality.  I believe that this data is useful for everyone, at least in order to know what to expect.

The list has been ordered by continents:

Continent Country  Normativa LGBT rights
1 Botswana Up to 90 days Illegal (Fine – 7 years imprisonment)
2 Guinea Up to 90 days Illegal (6 months to 3 years imprisonment)
Kenya Up to 90 days, Payment of 25 USD required upon arrival. Male illegal (Up to 14 years’ imprisonment) / Female not specifically covered by the Penal Code
3 Namibia Up to 90 days Illegal (not enforced)
4 Seychelles Up to 30 days Male illegal / Female legal
5 Togo Up to 7 days Illegal (Fine and/or a 3 year imprisonment)
6 Uganda Visa given upon arrival. Male Illegal (Up to life in prison) / Female: Illegal.  A law proposed in 2009 (pending) would increase the punishment for “repeat violators” and persons with HIV, including the death penalty. It proposes to hamper LGBT rights activists by prohibiting their literature and speaking in public about such topics. It would add Lesbian sexual acts to the list.
The Americas
7 Dominica Up to 28 days Illegal (10 year prison sentence or incarceration in a psychiatric institution )
8 Grenada Up to 60 days Male illegal (10 year imprisonment) / Female legal
9 Haití Up to 90 days Legal
10 Saint Kitts and Nevis Up to 30 days Male illegal (10 years imprisonment) / Female legal
11 Saint Lucia Up to 45 days Male illegal (Fine and/or 10 year imprisonment) / Female legal
12 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Up to 30 days llegal (Fine and/or 10 year imprisonment)
13 Cambodia Up to 30 days, Payment of 20 USD required upon arrival. Legal
14 Georgia Visa given upon arrival. Legal. Se permite la adopción por personas homosexuales, pero no el matrimonio.
15 Kyrgyzstan Up to 30 days, Payment of between 40 and 100 USD required upon arrival. Legal
16 Laos Up to 30 days, Payment of 30 USD required upon arrival. Legal
17 Malasya Up to 90 days Illegal (Fines, prison sentence (2-20 years), or whippings)
18 Maldives Up to 90 dí30 USD required upon arrival. d upg coach na, Brazil and host Japan.ixture on the national team for the last 13 years30 días Criminal code does not criminalize same-sex sexual relations; sharia law does
19 Mongolia Up to 30 days Legal
20 Singapore Up to 30 days Male illegal (Up to 2 years prison sentence; not enforced since 1999) / Female legal
21 East Timor Up to 30 days, Payment of 25 USD required upon arrival. Legal
22 Indonesia Up to 30 days, Payment of 10 USD required upon arrival. Legal except for Muslims in Aceh Province
23 Belarus Up to 30 days Legal
24 Montenegro Up to 90 days Legal. Law forbids all anti-gay discrimination and discrimination based on gender identity
25 Russia Up to 30 days Legal from 1917 to 1930 and since 1993. Saint Petersburg ban the “propaganda” of homosexualism until 2112.
26 Serbia Up to 90 days Legal.
27 Cook Islands Up to 31 days Male illegal / Female legal
28 Federated States of Micronesia Up to 30 days Legal
30 Niue Up to 30 days Legal
31 Palau Up to 30 days Male illegal / Female legal
32 Samoa Up to 60 days Ilegal.
33 Tuvalu Up to 30 days Male illegal (Up to 14 years imprisonment) / Female legal
34 Vanuatu Up to 30 days Legal



What's your opinion?

  • “As of Wednesday we’re allowed to leave” is dramatic. According to the government, 99.4% of those who applied for an exit permit over the last 12 years, got it.

    • Pepecuba

      Can you trust a government that requires a permit to leave the country. If that was the case why it took them 53 years to remove that law?

      • Griffin

        No, you cannot trust them. It took them 54 years because they have no alternative.

        • Cubainus

          No, it actually took 54 years because Castro’s totalitarian regime controls everything “ideologically” and they hold us hostages and officially deprive us of our individual freedom.. Now, they are just changing strategies, to mask for a merry political facade and to facilitated the entrance of USA $$$$$ capital for the strengthening of their regime, that is all.

    • Moses Patterson

      Tim, you obviously never had to apply for a Cuban exit permit. Neither have I but my wife did. Never mind the insulting 100cuc cost. Up until the moment you have it in your hand, you remain terrified that you may be among the 0.6% that did NOT receive permission to leave. You have to receive permissions from your boss in your employ, from the dean of your university if you are or were a student and if you have a home, the government must come and inspect your home to ensure you have all the government property that you have paid for still in your home like the refrigerator and the rice cooker! Believe me, for Cubans to no longer have to submit to this demeaning and ridiculous process is indeed a BIG deal.

      • thacuban

        Agree with you. I was one that didn’t had to pay the insulting exit permit I would when tried to travel before. However things didn’t changed much I must agree too. On the contrary many countries just closed doors more and unfortunately that is not our right to demand unless of course the government demand a reciprocity treaty they will never demand cause they don’t want professionals to go and look for better jobs in countries where they offer decent salary or higher life standard and pay a misery instead because they hold the job employment monopoly.

    • birdsoffire

      No to mention those who are banned to return to they’re own country.
      But maybe that’s the kind of “drama” Andersons prefer not to look at

  • Amequa

    What about the US? Can’t a Cuban simply arrive at a US border office and receive papers to stay and work?

    • Pepecuba

      You need a visa to travel to the US, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Mexico or Canada. So I have no idea how you can get without a visa to a US Border legally.

  • Griffin

    Canada requires a visa, however our country is very welcoming toward Cubans, we have a gay-positive society (Toronto & Vancouver have large and active gay communities) and the economy is doing better than just about anywhere right now.

  • gay forever

    Well, but that is a gay friendly country list, isnt it? Nothing to do with the new Cuban immigration law.

  • Well you need sort of a permit to leave the US to go to Cuba, even though there are creative ways to get around it.

    I think Yasmin’s article is very important for many reasons and she begins by stating the economic’s and other concerns but the human rights issue should be paramount to us all, whether LGBT, straight or having to do with racial profiling.

    One would think the ALBA countries would lower their visa requirements since its suppose to be about intergration and something other than the capitalist model that is taking place.

    I hope this is a step in the correct direction but as all things the proof of the pudding is in the eating.


  • toti

    this is all the countries cubans dont need visa??? I saw in Wikipedia, to China i dont need visa if i stay till 30 days as in Russia, or isn’t??? someone can check if to China i need visa?
    if someone knows please writte me mccowen88@gmail.com

  • Sue

    My husband went to the US border recently and claimed political asylum or the Cuban adjustment act :'( from Canada It took me almost 2 years to get him out of Cuba and he was here only 2 months. I am devastated. We met in 2003 married in 2012 and he arrived in June 2014. Could not marry before 2012 as I had breast cancer twice and was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Follicular Lymphoma Set 2013.Just finished chemo at the end of March. I fought so hard for him to get out and fought for us to be together for so long with all the strength of my heart and of myself. He did not get his visa to Canada initially and I had to hire a lawyer, borrow money. He could not remember so many surgery dates I had. This is my worst nightmare. He left me on Long term disability and racked up $3,000.00 debt while he was here and I used all of my savings and 3 credit cards to marry him and get him out lawyer Immigration consultant fees. He was a completely different person after a couple of weeks of arriving. I am so depressed, broken,devastated utterly. I thought I was safe with him after so many years together. I am in shock and cannot believe this has happened. He is in of course
    Miami where his sister and other family members are.Don’t need English there. I married the love of my life. I am so devastated </3 :'(

    • Karen

      Sue, I am very sorry for your suffering. I pray the LORD heals you of this and convicts your husbands heart of what he has done. I pray Jesus saves your husband and he repents and comes to his senses.

    • Cubainus

      I feel your pain my dear, god bless you … Look up from withing and you will not be without, Salud y Amor !!!

  • Me

    If a Cuban goes on vacation legaly to any of the countries that dosen’t need a visa and I visit the same country as well and marry him, will this work to claim him or bring him to usa or does he need to return to Cuba and wait for paper work to be finilized. I’m an american. Thank you in advance for your response

    • Maria G

      Cuban’s must do the paperwork from Cuba. Only legal residents of the other country you might be in can use that US embassy or consulate to apply for a visa to the US. I married my Cuban husband in Jamaica but the US embassy in Jamaica would have nothing to do with our visa process since I was not a legal resident in Jamaica nor was he. My word of advice: don’t marry a Cuban if you are American unless he or she is out of Cuba already and stable on his or her own. It took 9 years for us to have Cuba let him go and once here; even with our daughter, he wanted to head to Miami asap….see the woman from Canada’s comments below. This is the norm; not the exception.

      • A Rodriguez

        I’m sorry this happened to you but this is most certainly not the norm. And judging others by a few bad apples is wrong.

        • Abel

          I am a Cuban man and I would never do such a thing, but I have to acknowledge that there are bad people and other that are desperate to get out and would do anything to leave Cuba.

      • Cubainus

        Sadly It is actually the norm, a few good apples are the exception. We have been lied, use, abuse use indoctrinated massively since 1959, Finding Cubans who are truly sincere and direct is indeed rather rare and that’s the truth

      • Marc

        what was the requirement getting him to jamaica? how did this work with getting a visa for jamaica for your cuban husband?
        I am asking because I want to invite my girlfriend to jamaica but apparently she needs a visa

      • Pamela mcleod

        Thanks Marie, I am in the same situation in love with a Cuban and I like us to meet in Jamaica, please advice me as to how he can meet me in Jamaica he is telling me they will not allow him to get a visa to go into Jamaica. I am a Jamaican living in the States for twenty-five years and I would like to go home invite my Cuban boy friend to meet me in Montego Bay .please help