The Tourist Visa (or Tourist Card) is required by the Cuban Government by travelers from nearly every country. The visa is valid for one entry for a stay of up to 90 days but can be renewed for an additional 90 days while you are in Cuba. It is important not to lose your visa while in Cuba because they will collect it when you depart. There are several ways to obtain it:
Direct US to Cuba
If you are flying directly to Cuba from the US (e.g. Miami, Tampa, NYC) you can purchase the visa in the airport before you board your flight to Havana. This will cost between $75-100USD and the transaction takes just a few minutes, no need to worry about adding extra time to your layover to get it. Some US airlines will also allow you to buy the visa in advance and ship it to your home. Do not call the airline to ask, instead search the airline's website (Airline name + Cuba + Visa in a Google search). Airline call center staff are usually not well informed about travel to Cuba.
Other Countries to Cuba
If you are flying from any other country to Cuba, you will buy what is known as the 'Green' visa, which looks exactly the same as the "pink" visa above but is a different color.
If you are flying through a third country in Latin America or the Caribbean (e.g. Mexico, Panama, Cayman) you can purchase your visa at the airport during check in for your flight to Cuba. The cost is approximately US$25-30 and can sometimes be paid with credit card in addition to the local currency. Check with your airline.
If you are flying from Canada the visa is usually included with your flight. Check with your airline.
If you're flying from Europe, the easiest way to get your visa is to buy from a third party servicer such as www.cubavisas.com. The cost is approximately US$50 with expedited shipping. Make sure you order the visa with sufficient time to receive it before your trip.
We do not recommend contacting the embassy to obtain a tourist visa because it is very slow and inefficient.
Visa vs License
Many Americans use these words interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. The license is a legal requirement of the US government, the visa is a Cuban Government requirement. You can read about the general license here.
All Cuban born citizens require a special Visa. Visit the Cuba embassy website or www.cubatravelservices.com for more information.