visas – Border crossing in CA-4 countries (Guatemala, Honduras) for foreigners

The CA-4 agreement classifies nationalities in three categories: A, B, C.

CA-4 Visa Categories

Nicaragua and Honduras recognize Belarus citizens as “A” citizens, who are visa exempt:

CA-4 Nationalities List

.. which means that with an ordinary Belarus passport you can enter both Honduras and Nicaragua with no visa.

When you’ve entered the CA-4 through one of the above two countries that consider you an A citizen, can you move freely to other CA-4 countries, with a Belarus passport? No.

You can move freely between Honduras and Nicaragua, but in order to travel to Guatemala or El Salvador, you need to obtain a visa:

Cuando uno de los Estados Parte, beneficie a un país clasificado en la “categoría B” a “Categoría A”; y su nacionalidad debe movilizarse en la región, que requiere visa, podrá solicitarla en el Consulado respectivo.

When one of the CA-4 countries grants a nationality an “A” category, which is otherwise considered by the CA-4 as a “B” category, and this national needs to move in the CA-4 region, to a country that requires a visa, the national will be able to apply for a Visa at the respective consulate.

Source: https://igm.gob.gt/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/MANUAL-CA4-Unificado.pdf

money – Can someone explain Cuba’s two-currency system and the consequences for foreigners?

A little bit of history:

(from the top of my head, there is very little to find about this on the web I think, even in Spanish):

At some point during the Cuban Revolution and before I was born, being in possesion of any foreing currencies in Cuba became illegal (unless you had a special permit from the government). Many Cubans spent time in jail for this reason. Diplomats, tourists (which were rare at that time) and foreigners with a permanent or temporary residence were also allowed to use foreign currencies, and there were special stores (with imported products that could not be found anywhere else in the country) that only them could use, at that time these stores were commonly called “diplo-tiendas”. There was also an alternate currency called “exchange certificates” that only diplomats could use and were only valid on those stores.

https://www.banknotes.com/cufx1.htm

After the fall of the Berlin wall, Cuba started to fall into a deep and accelerated economical crisis, the Cuban government started to allow regular Cubans to use this alternate currency in those “special stores” and encouraged them to give away their gold and jewelries in exchange for this new currency. This currency was called by Cubans as “chavito” (no idea where the word came from, I was a child at that time) and the name is still used today in a lesser degree. This was the start of the two currencies system.

In 1994, during the worst period of the economical crisis, the Cuban government decided to open the country for tourism, foreign investment, and small private business. At the same time, they legalized the possession of foreign currencies, and more of those “special stores” were built all around the country. They assumed at that time that only a small percent of Cubans would ever be able to go there, and this was all supposed to be a “short-term temporary measure”. Their goal was to keep tourist and foreign companies as segregated as possible from regular Cubans, but at the same time stimulate the flow of strong currencies into the country.

They started to print yet another new currency that could be exchanged at a 1×1 rate with US dollars, and when you paid with “real dollars” for products and services, you would get your change in that alternate currency unless you explicitly requested otherwise. Later on in 2004 the government decided to forbid using foreign currencies at stores and hotels, and they forced Cubans and tourist alike to exchange their foreign currencies for the Cuban Convertible Pesos. And this is how the mess became permanent.

The two currencies:

Tourists are allowed to posses and to use CUP, but there are certain services and products that are subsidized by the Cuban government, just for Cubans (like theaters, concerts, museums, movies and the food rations that all Cubans receive on a monthly basis). Tourists will have to pay a different price in CUC for those services, and of course there are no subsidized food rations for them.

However it might still be a good idea to have some CUPs available, since buying food from street sellers and fruit/vegies stores or taking public transportation (including the “shared” taxis called “boteros”) is a lot more cost-effective when paid using CUP, specially if you have a Cuban friend (and I mean a real friend) to walk around with you.

The main concern when using the two currencies are the scams, you need to know all the bills and coins of the two currencies.

So we have Cuban Pesos (CUP) and Cuban Convertibles (CUC).
At the time of writing, 1 CUC = 24 or 25 CUP (most of the time), and 1 CUC = 1 USD (most of the time). These exchange rates have been “artificially fixed” by the Cuban government for many years, however they vary depending on the situation. If you want to buy CUC using CUP, the rate will likely be 1 CUC = 25 CUP, if you want the opposite, the rate is likely to be 1 CUC = 24 CUP, and if you want to pay for services (like a taxi,with prices usually set in CUP), using CUC coins, the rate is likely to be 1 CUC = 20 CUP. For example in order to pay a taxi(botero) trip that costs 10 CUP with CUC coins, you will need 2 coins of 25 CUC cents, or 10 coins of 10 cuc cents, etc.

The main difference between the bills are the colors, as you can see in the picture below, CUP are kind of monochromatic, while CUC have many colors in them:

cuc and cup bills

Pictures for all possible CUC bank notes can be found here:
www.banknote.ws

Another difference is the presence of monuments of historical characters in CUCs instead of the picture of the person found in CUPs.

Note that CUP bills that are about 20 years old or more were also printed in many colors, but they are not longer used these days and it would be very unusual to come across one of these. In case you do come across one, they all look more or less like this:

3 pesos bill from 1995

The coins are also easy to tell apart, coins from CUC have all an octagon around them, and they are stamped with landscapes. Coins from CUP are all stamped either with a star or with a picture of an historical character, namely Che Guevara – 3 cup, Jose Marti – 1 cup and (currently rarely found) Camilo Cienfuegos – 0.40 cup.

CUC Coins:
cuc coins

CUP Coins:
cup coins
3 cup coin

Most common scam:

When receiving change in coins, if you get several 1 CUC coins, always review each of them, make sure that you are no getting a 3 CUP coin instead (the one just above with Che Guevara). They are roughly the same size and color, but 8 times less valuable.

Recent events:

The Cuban goverment is currently taking measures (slowly) to eliminate CUC as a currency, for this reason CUP can now be spent almost everywhere (but not the reverse), and when prices are displayed just in CUC the regular CADECA conversion rate will be applied if you want to use CUP.

As of January 2016, state-owned companies (for example most of the stores and supermarkets) are starting to accept some major credit cards as method of payment for goods and services (VISA and MasterCard for example), at least in Havana, so you could also use that as a way of avoiding dealing with currencies. Note that every time you use a credit card, the store rep will ask for a piece of ID and collect as much personal info as he/she can, I guess it will take a few years before they get used to the change and become less paranoid.

Important:

As of August 2017, It is illegal for Cubans and tourists alike to export CUC bills or coins.
Cuban citizens and residents can export/import CUP up to 2000.

BANCO CENTRAL DE CUBA (Central bank of Cuba): RESOLUCIÓN No. 18 /2012

UPDATE October 16, 2019

The Cuban government just announced that they will open a new store chain across the country that will only accept USD as currency, but never in cash, just magnetic cards (like regular credit cards for example).

(Is Spanish)
https://diariodecuba.com/cuba/1571185659_1176.html

These stores will not accept CUP or CUC. So Cuba now has three currencies… yey!

UPDATE Feubruary, 2020

The Cuban government is taking more steps into removal of CUC as a currency.
CUC is currently not accepted anymore inside airports once you pass immigration/customs, and there is no way to do currency exchanges anymore at that point.

If you happen to have CUC with you at the moment of your departure, make sure to change them back to a foreign currency before you pass immigration/customs.

international travel – Are temporary accommodations where non-resident foreigners carry out their Obligatory Preventive Isolation designated by the Ecuador authorities?

I read on https://www.aviacioncivil.gob.ec/que-debemos-saber-antes-durante-y-despues-de-un-viaje-en-tiempos-de-covid-19/ (mirror) (translated to English by Google):

Travelers will be asked for a negative result of a PCR test, performed up to 7 days before the trip. In the event that the PCR test cannot be performed in the country of origin, the passenger, upon arrival in Ecuador, will undergo the test to detect SARS-CoV-2.

Non-resident foreigners will carry out their APO (Obligatory Preventive Isolation) in temporary accommodation.

Are temporary accommodations where non-resident foreigners carry out their APO (Obligatory Preventive Isolation) designated by the Ecuadorian authorities, or can the non-resident foreigners choose them themselves (e.g., renting Airbnb)?

Does anyone know if Indonesia is infact allowing foreigners to apply for the short term tourist visa starting from September?

I heard in the news that Indonesia is opening up tourism in September and foreigners will be able to apply for the tourist visa in September. However, I can’t seem to find any such information on the Indonesian Embassy’s website in Germany or any other website that can either confirm or deny the information, which increased my skepticism about the original fact. Does anyone know if Indonesia is infact allowing foreigners to apply for the short term tourist visa starting from September?

When can foreigners apply for the short-term tourist visa for Indonesia again?

I heard in the news that Indonesia is opening up tourism in September and foreigners will be able to apply for the tourist visa in September. However, I can’t seem to find any such information on the Indonesian Embassy’s website in Germany or any other website that can either confirm or deny the information, which increased my skepticism about the original fact. Does anyone know if Indonesia is infact allowing foreigners to apply for the short term tourist visa starting from September?

space – Is it possible for foreigners to watch rocket launches in China?

China is an active spacefaring nation, with launches scheduled on a monthly basis from four major launch sites around the country. The newest of these, in Wenchang, is even conveniently located on subtropical resort island Hainan and apparently a major local tourist attraction.

However, is it possible for non-Chinese nationals to view rocket launches at these sites? The oldest and largest site, Jiuquan, has historically been completely off limits to foreigners, and while this news story from 2007 (!) implies all four are in various stages of opening up, the bureaucracy still sounds formidable (“Since satellite launches have strict requirements over a variety of issues, the launch center will not allow tourists to watch the scene unless all necessary precautions are taken.”) and concrete information in English on what’s possible, where to apply etc seems very thin on the ground.

(Also, I know China at time of writing basically bans inbound tourists due to COVID-19 concerns, but for the purposes of this question, please assume the visitor is already in the country.)

Leftist Loons, Lemme is shaking: Americans have to stay at home until further notice, but foreigners can join right away?

🥴 Trump has stopped all international traffic to the United States.

I am 100% in favor. And I'm angry that he didn't do that a long time ago.

Yes, we still have to be blocked because South Korea reopened early and hit a second wave. This is why experts say the reopening is happening too soon.

So what are you talking about?

Does the COVID-19-related automatic visa extension until April 30, 2020 in Thailand also apply to foreigners who have entered Thailand without a visa?

I read on https://immigration.go.th/content/visa_auto_extension (Spiegel):

👮‍♂️ The person whose visa expired on March 26, 2020 will automatically be extended until April 30, 2020. There is no need to apply for a visa extension from the Immigration Service for this period, and there is no fine of THB 500 per day for this case.

Does the COVID-19-related automated visa extension also apply to foreigners who have entered Thailand without a visa by April 30, 2020?


I asked the following question:

international travel – in which countries are foreigners not allowed to leave during a pandemic?

Luzon island (where Manila is located) in the Philippines decided to ban outbound international flights, but the decision was reversed a few days later:

https://www.rappler.com/business/254885-philippine-airlines-cebu-pacific-airasia-flight-cancelations-coronavirus-luzon-lockdown:

The airline will announce the status of its international flights at a later date from March 20 to April 12, as it coordinates with the authorities.

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1096970:

The Ministry of Tourism (DOT) has vowed to lift the travel ban on outgoing passengers except for Filipino tourists, in line with the Luzon-wide extended quarantine.

Peru also has a lock: https://www.tennessean.com/in-depth/news/health/2020/03/20/americans-stranded-peru-coronavirus-lockdown/2873582001/

Some found out when a hotel employee knocked on their door late Sunday night and said they had 24 hours to leave the country

List: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/mar/20/coronavirus-travel-ban-advice-updates-uk-countries-restrictions-fco-warnings:

  • Albania and Slovenia: All flights suspended.
  • Jordan: No commercial flights to or from Jordan and all land and sea borders closed.
  • Luxembourg: All passenger flights will be suspended from March 23.
  • Pakistan: All flights suspended until April 4th
  • Tajikistan: All flights suspended from March 20
  • Etc.