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2021 Cuba currency update

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Well, here we are approaching the tail end of February already!  In this 2021 Cuba update, we bring you news of recent changes in Cuban currency, the latest travel update; how you can send money to friends and family in Cuba. Read on….


One of the biggest changes in Cuba since 1 January 2021 concerns the Cuban currency.  Formerly, there were two currencies:

$CUC, commonly knows as cucs (pronounced cooks) which effectively was hard currency and used by tourists and Cubans alike.  This money was only able to be purchased and spent in Cuba, in ‘dollar shops’, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs and anywhere tourists were likely to be spending money.

$CUP commonly known as moneda and the local currency used by Cuban nationals for salary payments, bills and purchases in local shops and food markets.  Tourists were never encouraged to use this money.

Now, however, there is just one currency: $CUP.  For anyone who has visited Cuba and has spare $CUCs in a drawer somewhere, you officially have until 1 July 2021 to exchange this money into $CUP. 24 $CUP for 1 £CUC is the official exchange rate . How this will be feasible with current travel restrictions in place is a different issue…

When you arrive in Cuba next time, you will exchange money into $CUP at the airport, CADECA exchange bureaux or banks around the island.  Remember to spend as much of it as you can whilst you are in Cuba because you should not take this currency out of the country at the end of your trip. There is, in theory, a more widespread acceptance of debit or credit cards for payments around Cuba in hotels and other places.  Note that you will only be able to use cards or foreign currency in the airport shops and duty free shops.


There are still too many travel restrictions in place for us to start operating our holidays and tours in Cuba for the moment. The rolling out of vaccines across the UK and elsewhere in the world is very encouraging, but we will have to continue biding our time. It is good to note that in Cuba their own vaccines should be widely and quickly administered by the summer – all very hopeful!

Cuba is successfully managing its way through the Covid-19 pandemic but ‘normal’ hospitality services are yet to be resumed.  Rest assured that we are keeping a very close eye on this situation.   We sincerely hope that our holidays and tours will be operating again within a few months. We desperately want to start working with our longstanding colleagues and suppliers all over the island again, all of whom really need as much support as possible. On that note….


A question we are often asked is how to send money over to friends or family in Cuba.  It is tricky to find a viable means of doing so, but recently we heard about duales.com, registered in Canada.  This worked perfectly for us just a few days ago and we sent money to Santiago de Cuba without any hitches at all. You need to register your details on the duales.com website and then follow the clear instructions. You pay at your end using a debit or credit card and within a couple of days the corresponding amount of money in $CUP is delivered direct to a specified address (by moto) or to a bank account in Cuba. You can get a quote online first to check the exchange rate – definitely worth checking out.  Let us know how you get on.

We want to do our best to support our wonderful colleagues in Santiago de Cuba and other parts of Cuba at this really difficult time. If we are having a hard time, just imagine how it must be for our friends over there. If you want to send money over to Cuba for someone you would like to help, but whose full personal details you do not have (for example, one of your dance partners, or a guide, someone like this), do get in touch.  If we know who they are we may be able to get the money to them on your behalf.

Wishing everyone good health and good spirits, y hasta pronto!


About the Author
Kath Bateman founded Caledonia in 1996 and still has a very active role in the company. As a linguist and avid traveller, Caledonia brings together many strands of Kath’s personal and professional interests. She is a Modern Languages and Tourism graduate and has worked as a tour leader and trilingual guide, ski rep and salsa teacher, cultural events organiser, salsa club promoter and English language teacher. She lived and studied in France and Austria and has travelled widely elsewhere in Europe, Latin America and particularly in Cuba. Kath is still very much involved in the business and is as motivated by what Caledonia does as when she first set up the company in the spare room at home all those years ago.