Costs – general
Cuba offers the student on a medical elective an experience unobtainable anywhere else in the world, though compared to Africa and India, for example, it is a more expensive destination because Cuba charges tuition fees. Once you get there, living in Cuba is relatively cheap.
Most of the costs quoted here which you pay in Cuba are quoted in Cuban convertible pesos (CUCs) with a conversion into £ sterling. The exchange rate is generally around £ 1.00 = 1.55 CUCs and 1.00 CUC = £ 0.64. Check the current exchange rate.
In October 2013 it was announced that Cuba's dual currency system is to be abolished. No timetable has been set. It is unlikely that this will make much difference to visiting elective students.
See the BMA's list of sources of funding for electives.
Cost of tuition
We are pleased to report that with effect from 1 January 2014 we have been able to negotiate with the Cuban Ministry of Health a reduction in the costs of tuition in Cuba from 240 CUCs per week to 180 CUCs per week. This reduction also applies to students who have already registered for 2014.
The faculty in Havana prefers that students pay for tuition by bank transfer, but if your bank refuses to handle payments to Cuba, you can pay the fees in cash (CUCs) to the Faculty when you arrive. In Santiago de Cuba you pay in cash.
Cost of board and lodging
The cost of accommodation in a casa particular starts at around 125 CUC (￡80) per week for a single room. Costs can be reduced by sharing. Self-catering may be an option in some casas. A single room with all meals and laundry may cost 175 CUC per week. A generous evening meal costs around 7 CUCs (￡5.00).
Lunches in the street or at the hospital, generally paid for in pesos nacionales (the peso used by Cubans for everyday purchases), cost very little.
You will also need to budget for additional meals, drinks, local travel, entertainment and general spending money.
You will need your own travel insurance policy.
Travel and transport
Flights from UK to Cuba cost ￡600-￡1200 depending on the season and the route. Transfer to your destination may be costly e.g. Havana to Santiago de Cuba by air costs around ￡80, or a long bus journey for about 50 CUCs (￡32). If you fly into Holguín International Airport, depending on the time of arrival of your flight, you may need to stay overnight in Holguín and take the bus next day. The alternative is a private car from the airport to Santiago, which costs around ￡125. Finally, there is a departure tax of 25 CUCS (￡16).
Cost of visa
You enter Cuba on a tourist card (=visa) which can be obtained through a travel agent or the Cuban Embassy. If your total stay in Cuba will not exceed four weeks (28 days) this is all you need. The tourist card costs ￡15 + ￡20 delivery through the Embassy.
However if your total stay, including any vacation time, will exceed four weeks, when you arrive at your destination the Faculty will change your tourist card to a student visa. The conversion to a student visa costs 40 CUCs (￡25) for four weeks. An extension for a longer period costs 25 CUCs (￡16).
'Legalisation' of documents no longer required
At the end of 2011 the Cuban authorities had introduced a requirement that the documents you are required to present to Faculty before you start your elective be 'legalised', which involved cumbersome and expensive procedures. Happily, this requirement was withdrawn as of June 2012.