Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
My Most Precious Passport
Categories: Cuba Inside Out

The Canadian passport gave me the freedom I had always wanted. Since I became a citizen and applied for it, I have crossed borders and traveled the world without worries. I have been welcomed in Spain with a smile, a stamp and no questions (when only a year before I had gone through the long visa process that is required for a Cuban to visit). I have been to the States several times and no one cared where I was going to and for how long. With the Canadian passport, I feel wonderfully libre.

The Canadian passport costs $160 CDN dollars and lasts for 10 years. Pretty sweet deal, eh!

Nonetheless,  the document I precious the most is the Cuban passport. Without it, I would not be able to visit my family and friends in Havana. Cubans cannot enter the country with any other passport than the Cuban, no matter how many years they have been living abroad and/or how many citizenships they hold.

This past week, I had to “extend” my passport. Notice that I did not write “renew”, which is totally different. Every 2 years, all Cubans must “renew” their passports and, depending on where in the world they live, the fee changes. I am not sure how they decide that. For Cubans in Canada, the cost is $160 CDN dollars. The officers at the Consulate will glue an old-fashioned stamp on it that reads: “válido”. Without this validation, you cannot enter the country.

In the case of renewals, the cost in Canada is over 300 CDN and the waiting time has varied for me in every occasion, the longest wait being a month.

The Cuban government ensures a large quantity of money yearly out of all the consular services. As we know, there are Cubans all over the world and the majority of them continue visiting the country.

In order to get the passport valid, people in Toronto need to make time during the week, which means during their working hours, as they only work with the public from 10 am to 1 pm. if you live in a different province, all the documents need to be mailed.

It looks like now I can go home again and I can take out of a drawer the passport that I only use for the purpose of travelling to the island.

The interesting thing is that, to leave Cuba, citizens are required to show the passport or document that will let them entry once they have arrived at their destination. If travellers cannot show a foreign passport, permanent resident or temporary visa they will not be allowed to get on an airplane.



Also published on Medium.

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