How to obtain a press visa for Cuba?
It’s a very simple process for journalists to obtain the D6 press visa. A journalist needs to have the D6 visa to be able to work in Cuba and report the news. It’s somewhat like obtaining a business visa, but it’s less complicated than that. Personally, I’ve applied for the press visa twice from the Press Attaché office of the Cuban embassy. Journalists need to apply for a visa because Cuba is no different from the rest of the world; it’s illegal to work in the country without the proper documentation.
How long does it take for the entire process to obtain the D6 press visa? I can only speak from experience. It takes anywhere from two days to three to four weeks, start to finish. The first time I applied for the visa, it was granted in two days. The second time I applied it took ten days, but that was due to summer office closures. How’s that for service? Only two days. That’s pretty darn good, I’d say.
The first time I applied for journalist accreditation in Cuba was for the visit of President Barack Obama on March 20, 2015. There was not much advance warning of the President’s official visit. I applied for the Cuban press visa on March 15. On March 17th, my application was approved. Muy rapido in my opinion.
The second time I applied for a press visa, it took slightly longer due to reduced summer office hours. I was covering the Cuba Energy & Infrastructure Summit (Sept. 1 – 2, 2016). The Cuba Business Report was media partner for one of the organizers, New Media Events. I thought I had applied in time, sending in my request for the visa on August 8th. However, I soon found out that the Embassy and the International Press Center were on reduced hours of operation for summer holidays until August 22nd. Of course, panic mode set in.
I then sent an email to another Cuban embassy in another country, but they were unable to process documents for other nationalities.
The Embassy in my country then replied to my email request on August 18. The press attaché informed me they would try and get the visa pushed through but due to the summer office closures, it was not certain.
On August 25th, the visa was approved. Therefore from the original request of August 8th to the first response August 18th, the visa was approved in ten days.
Steps to obtaining a press visa for Cuba:
If you travel frequently as an international journalist, you should always have two passport photos of yourself on hand, notarized by those who have the authority to notarize documents. The following is an outline of the steps to apply for the Cuban press accreditation:
- Request a press visa from the Press Attaché at the Cuban embassy in your country of origin
- Send in the documents required for a press visa
- Once approved, head to the Cuban Embassy or Consulate Office to obtain the D6 visa to be presented at the airport upon arrival
- Pay the cost of the visa at the embassy or consultant in your home country. In my country it is $128. The rate may vary in other countries.
- Once you arrive in Cuba, you head to the International Press Center in Vedado to obtain credentials. You’ll receive your press badge. The International Press Center is across the street and down the road a bit from the Habana Libre Hotel on Calle 23. At the Press Center you’ll pay the 100.00 CUC for the press badge with your photo. I believe only cash is accepted, but I could be wrong.
Documentation required for a Cuban D6 Press Visa:
- Two passport photos notarized in country of origin – I always have two on hand. One of the photos will be used for the press badge at the International Press Center
- Resumé – CV
- Passport – take an image of the the first page of the passport, the page with the photo
- Letter of intention from employer on letterhead of the employer or sponsoring organization
- Completed Planilla Visa de periodista form (provided to you by the embassy)
- Flight details: date of arrival and departure from Cuba
The best advice I can give is to apply for a D6 press visa well in advance of the event you wish to cover. If it’s an emergency and you need a visa quickly, have your documents prepared in advance and send an email to the Cuban Press Attaché in your country. Once you arrive in Cuba, head straight to the International Press Center in Havana to obtain your press credentials.
Hundreds of foreign and local journalists worked at the Obama visit. It was a pleasure to meet fellow colleagues, some working at press offices for various publications in Havana and others from international media outlets. At the Cuba Energy Summit, I met both local press and foreign press members. Good to meet and talk.
This is a personal experience of the application process for the D6 press visa to work in Cuba. All of the above information can be found on the Cuban embassy website of your country at www.cubadiplomatica.cu.