Cuban Emigrants Flood Consulates With Passport Applications Under New Regulations

Cuban passport valid for 10 years

Since Cuba eased passport regulations in July 2023, over 119,500 Cuban emigrants have applied to renew their passports at consulates abroad.

The new rules extend passport validity to 10 years, eliminate burdensome biannual renewal requirements, and reduce fees, driving a surge in demand.

High Demand Strains Consular Resources

According to Laura Pujol Torres, head of consular affairs at Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), passport applications from abroad have skyrocketed since the July 2023 changes.

Laura Pujol Torres, head of consular affairs at Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX)

Of the over 119,500 applications, around 56,658 came from Cubans who had not held valid documents for over six years.

This dramatic increase has strained the resources of Cuba’s consular corps, which maintains 140 offices in 123 countries.

Cuban diplomats have implemented new procedures to handle the deluge of passport applications and avoid excessive backlogs and delays.

Most Applicants Based in the United States

The new passport regulations have primarily benefited Cubans living in the United States, who account for over 83,000 of the applications.

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Cuba maintains only a single consulate in the U.S., which faces restrictions on providing direct services to Cuban nationals. Instead, a private American agency handles initial application processing and final passport delivery, slowing the procedure.

In addition, almost 44,000 Cubans temporarily abroad have applied for passport renewals from their current location.

Applicants submit paperwork at the nearest consulate, which then forwards requests digitally to the passport office in Cuba. After printing the passports centrally in Cuba, the Foreign Ministry returns them to consulates for distribution.

Entry Restrictions Remain in Force

Alongside extending passport validity, Cuban authorities still require all citizens entering the country to carry a valid Cuban passport.

This mandate even applies to individuals who left Cuba before 1971 and hold another nationality.

Officials have approved 576 passport applications from this cohort but rejected 21, generally citing insufficient proof of Cuban citizenship.

However, over 700 Cubans who migrated before 1971 have received permission to visit using their foreign passports.

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Authorities have promised a gradual transition to requiring Cuban passports from all citizens. The overall goal is facilitating travel to Cuba for emigrants while enforcing updated immigration laws.

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