Cuba Rental Car | How do I know if my car is really booked?

For some, the concept of having problems with cuba rental car bookings is inconceivable. I mean, what could go wrong right? You book a car, pay it and you collect it, right? Not in Cuba…
Cuba Rental Car

Where´s my booking?

There are many agencies who claim to be able to offer this simple service of booking a Cuba rental car. Some will endeavor, however possible, to convince that they are able to confirm rental vehicles but few are. Why? Well first off, the Cuban government restricts the sale of rental cars to either their own groups (wholly owned Cuban enterprises) or non local bulk sellers based outside of Cuban (in your home country for instance). Their notion is that if you´re a tourist then you’re coming from somewhere (pretty logical no?) so, that somewhere should be where you are booking your rental car, flight or Hotel. Whether it’s Canada, USA, Asia or Europe, generally the approved resellers are outside of Cuba. In fact, if an agency is based in Cuba or is even a foreign agency with offices in Cuba, 9 times out of 10 they have been prohibited from selling local services. Why you may ask? Well, the Cuban government is very protective of their home market and, in fact, all (i.e 100%) of businesses in Cuba are owned by the state. It’s called communism. Therefore, if an agency is based in Cuba, has a Cuba address or touts the aspect they are “in Cuba” then generally, they cannot rent cars directly. However, like any rule, these agencies find ways around it sometimes but, often it’s at a great inconvenience to you. Alarm bells should ring if you are to be “met at the airport” by them to collect your car or if you are not given a proper PDF or JPG printable voucher BEFORE you have left your home country. Of course, anyone can fabricate a voucher these days so, the rule of thumb is, if they are in Cuba, i.e they have offices in Cuba then they are not supposed to be renting cars to arriving visitors. Period.
The Cuban tourism ministry polices this strictly, prohibiting local agents from selling ANYTHING to tourists “IN” Cuba. In fact, all so called “agencies” based in Cuba are simply representative offices of what should be a licensed agency in a country outside of Cuba. In real terms, the Cuban government allows licensed travel agencies outside of Cuba to have a small administration office on the island to “assist” their travelers but NOT to sell locally available services for when you arrive. Again, this is the domain of the heavily protected Cuban state companies and the Cuban government does not want nor allow ANYONE to meddle with that.

So how do I know if I have a real Cuba Rental Car booking?

You will have booked and paid your rental car from your home country, either online or via your tour operator. You will receive a printable voucher bearing the logo of CubaCar, Havanautos, Transtur, VIA or REX. This voucher will have a code on it commencing with TA – XXXXXX (six digits) or in case of REX – Reservation XXXXXXXX-XXXX (8 and 4 digits)

Why should I book a Cuba Rental Car in advance?

It can be extremely difficult to rent a car “at the desk” in Cuba. Some tourist’s don´t have the time or inclination to travel from rental office to rental office to find an available car. Furthermore, if you do find a car then you will be subject to what is called “walk up” rates which can be up to 20% more than pre-booking rates. Finally, especially in July – August and During the December – January (Christmas) holidays, it can be nigh on impossible to find an available car locally.

Your Cuba Rental Car will be waiting for you when you arrive if you take note and follow the above guidelines.

Cuba Rental Car 101