Safety and Security
Cuba is considered free from any threat of global terrorism, but has an increasing crime rate.
You can walk around at night in tourist areas without having to worry. Police officers are posted at every street corner to ensure tourist security and they will never give you any trouble. However you should note that there are some pickpockets, so please carry only small amounts of cash.
Safety and Security - Crime
Crime is on the increase. Theft from luggage during baggage handling, both on arrival and departure, is common. Remove all valuables, lock suitcases and consider having them shrink-wrapped before check-in.
Take precautions if you are in Central Havana at night. Take a taxi to your accommodation rather than walk, even if your accommodation is only a few blocks away.
There are a small number of bogus tour agents/taxis operating at the airports and around Old Havana. Do not travel with anyone other than your recognized tour operator. If you need to take a taxi, ensure it is a registered one. (the operating license must be visible in every taxi)
Car-related crime and mugging incidents are increasing, not only in Havana but also in Santiago and other areas less frequented by tourists. There have been attacks on foreigners using hire cars after staged punctures and by bogus hitch-hikers. Do not pick people up; if you get a puncture in a lonely spot, drive on to a town before stopping.
Beware of pickpockets and bag-snatchers, especially in Old Havana, on buses and trains, at major tourist sites and in nightclubs. Don’t carry large amounts of cash when away from your hotel; avoid wearing ostentatious or expensive jewelry; leave travelers’ cheques, credit cards, passports and other important documents in a safe deposit or similar at your hotel. Carry a copy of your passport and lock the original away with other valuables. Beware of thefts from rooms, particularly in private guest houses (‘casas particulares’). Hi-tech items of value (e.g. iphone, ipod, ipad, laptops etc) are highly sought after in Cuba and are particularly attractive to thieves.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
A valid Driving License is required to drive and/or rent a car in Cuba. If you decide to rent a car in Cuba, ensure that the insurance which is provided with the car includes local third party insurance cover.
All drivers and passengers of motorcycles and scooters are required by law to wear a crash helmet. In view of serious accidents that have involved tourists, you should not use mopeds or three wheel Coco-Taxis for travel around Cuba.
Driving standards are variable. Beware of cyclists, potholes and cars that stop without warning to pick up hitch-hikers. Avoid driving at night, when animals, unlit vehicles and other hazards are a real danger.
The Cuban police are cracking down on drink-driving. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages while you are driving!
If you have a traffic accident where someone is killed or injured, the police investigation may take several months, during which time the driver will normally not be allowed to leave Cuba. There is no guarantee that criminal compensation payments will be made. If convicted of killing someone in a road traffic accident, the standard punishment is at least two years in jail. If you do have a serious accident, contact your embassy as soon as possible.