MIAMI – Cuba’s foreign ministry has announced major changes for passports.
All Cubans must now possess a Cuban passport to travel to the island. Those individuals who left the country before 1971 are no longer exempt.
Passports will now be valid for 10 years instead of six.
The cost of a new passport obtained abroad has lowered in price from $400 to $180.
Passports no longer have to be validated every two years.
Former Congressman Joe Garcia says he has pushed for these changes.
“This is obviously a step in the right direction. Obviously, we would have liked to have seen a lot more, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Garcia.
Garcia said he still disagrees with the policy that does not allow older Cubans to visit the island without a US passport.
“The truth is that even if they didn’t have a Cuban passport, the only way that they could travel to Cuba was to submit their passport to the Cuban Embassy in Washington. They had to pay for that visa and could only use it once to travel to Cuba,” said Garcia.
At travel agencies across South Florida catering to Cubans, workers are preparing for a surge in Cubans who want to visit the island, saying they have already been receiving many calls on Wednesday with many hoping to get some direction to help understand the new process.
For Cubans who left the island before 1971, the cost of that one-time visa with a US passport was actually around the same price for obtaining a new Cuban passport that now lasts 10 years. Financially, there won’t be much difference. Some of course still say they would rather use their US passport to enter the country for political reasons.