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Can I walk around in Cuba with a copy of my passport instead of the passport itself ?

I'm asking this because I prefer to leave my passport in the hotel, rather having it with me.

Do you think that police can make me problems ? (I'm Italian and live in Europe)

  • 2
    if Cuba is like many other communist countries, you have to hand over your passport to the hotel or police on arrival and don't get it back until you depart again. Thus you won't have any passport to carry around with you. – jwenting Jan 31 '12 at 11:45
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    @jwenting I guess Cuba is not like other communist countries then, since I know for a fact that you can keep your passport. – yms Jan 31 '12 at 15:02
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    (Re communist countries...) You can even keep the passports in North Korea, though, as a tourist, your (non-NK) guide may collect them so that the paperwork following a potential loss of the passport falls on the tour operator instead. – qmp Jul 4 '13 at 8:32
  • @jwenting which countries would that be? Wikipedia lists only 5 countries that are currently communist states and as far as I know none of them require tourists hand in their passport during their stay in the country. They (or former communist states) may well have done so in the past, but it's not common now. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Jan 7 at 21:24
  • @JJ my comment being almost 7 years old, things maybe having changed. At the time, in my experience, it wasn't uncommon. In many such countries you'd be required to register your presence in a specific city with authorities who'd take your passport and return it to you on your departure, thus ensuring you'd be where you said you'd be. Hotels would act as proxies for the police stations you'd otherwise have to do this. – jwenting Jan 9 at 4:29
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I don't know what the law is, but when I was on Cuba, I always left my passport in the hotel safe and carried a copy. I spent some hours in a police station in Havana but I don't think anybody ever wanted to see my passport.

Many Europeans also have an identity card, I often carry that with me as a form of authentication. It doesn't help you to get into the country, but it is a legal document and can be helpful if you have to deal with the authorities.

  • many Europeans have an ID card in lue of a passport. Those that have both are limited to people who bought an ID card and needed for whatever reason a real passport before the expiry date on the ID card. – jwenting Feb 1 '12 at 6:58
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    @jwenting Many Europeans need an ID card whether or not they have a passport. – DJClayworth Jul 4 '13 at 17:07
  • @DJClayworth A passport counts as an ID card for government ID purposes. If some companies require a separate ID for like entry passcards to their buildings, that's not relevant here. – jwenting Jul 4 '13 at 19:02
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    Actually no. Belgium, for example, requires you to have an ID card whether or not you have a passport. Likewise Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Poland. – DJClayworth Jul 4 '13 at 19:41
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I actually asked this question a few months ago to a representative of a Cuban consulate. She told me that it is a good idea to use a photocopy of the passport, but only if I can provide some other additional indentification with a picture, like a health insurance card, a driver license, a resident card etc. However, if you ever need to do a currency exchange on cash, you will have to show your actual passport.

Note that in Cuba it is mandatory to carry some kind of identification document, not doing so is considered a contravention, potentially penalized with a fine.

  • 1
    Fines are in CUP for Cubans, and CUC (1=25) for tourists...same "number", of course, but to be fair it would be very rear for a tourist to be fined. It has to be something more serious than that – yms Feb 21 '17 at 4:28
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I have also been in Cuba more than 5 years ago and I have never carried my passport.
My passport was always in the hotel safe and I carried a copy of the first few pages.

Maybe you should ask what's best to do from the customs agent at the Cuban airport.

  • You should also check with your embassy and find out what they advise or know of. – Freiheit Jan 31 '12 at 15:49

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