Due to Hurricane Matthew we didn’t fly down to Santa Clara until after the Hurricane had passed. On a flight to Miami with only an hour connection to the one departing for Santa Clara, we had little option but to only carry on our luggage. Proper documentation (license to enter Cuba, a letter of authorization by the tour operator and the Cuban visa) will be checked at the gate before you are allowed to board. Note that you can also apply for the visa at the gate prior to boarding by paying $100 – credit cards are accepted.
When you arrive in Cuba immigration authorities will ask for reason of travel, take your picture and should return your half portion of the visa after stamping your passport. In our case, the immigration office decided to keep Reggie’s half portion. we realized pretty quickly and went back to retrieve it but he would not give it to us. We were pretty worried about leaving the country and were prepared for hassles and another $100 fee. In the end, we had no problem leaving the country.