Home » Cuba » Cuba – Self-Employment

Cuba – Self-Employment

Cuba is a country with a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural beauty, and a fascinating history. Despite its challenges, it is becoming an increasingly popular destination for expats who want to start their own business or become self-employed. In this article, we will explore how self-employment and start-ups work for expats in Cuba, including a step-by-step guide on how to register as self-employed or set up a company.

How self-employment works for expats in Cuba

Self-employment, or “cuentapropismo” in Spanish, has been allowed in Cuba since the 1990s. Expats can also work as self-employed individuals, although the process of obtaining a license can be more complicated for non-Cubans. Self-employed individuals are required to pay taxes and social security contributions, and there are restrictions on the types of businesses that can be operated.

Step-by-step guide on how to register as self-employed in Cuba

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to register as self-employed in Cuba:

  1. Contact the Ministry of Labor and Social Security to obtain a license for self-employment. You will need to provide your personal details, including your name, address, and passport number.
  2. Choose the activity (sector) you will be working in and provide any necessary additional information.
  3. Obtain any necessary permits or licenses for your business activities.
  4. Register with the local tax office and obtain a tax ID number.
  5. Pay the necessary fees and taxes.

Can you work as a digital nomad in Cuba?

While Cuba has made significant progress in improving its internet infrastructure in recent years, internet access can still be slow and unreliable in some areas. However, there are co-working spaces and shared offices available in major cities such as Havana, making it possible for digital nomads to work from Cuba.

How to start a company in Cuba

Starting a company in Cuba can be a complex process, with strict regulations and bureaucratic procedures to navigate. Expats can establish a company by registering with the Chamber of Commerce and obtaining a license from the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

Step-by-step guide on how to set up a company in Cuba

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up a company in Cuba:


Get Our Best Articles Every Month!

Get our free moving abroad email course AND our top stories in your inbox every month


Unsubscribe any time. We respect your privacy - read our privacy policy.


  1. Choose a legal structure for your company, such as a limited liability company (Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada, SRL) or a joint venture (Empresa Mixta).
  2. Register with the Chamber of Commerce and obtain a tax ID number.
  3. Obtain a license from the Ministry of Economy and Planning.
  4. Obtain any necessary permits or licenses for your business activities.
  5. Register with the local tax office and pay the necessary fees and taxes.
  6. Open a bank account for your company.

Incentives and programs for expats

Cuba has been making efforts to encourage foreign investment and entrepreneurship in recent years, with the implementation of new economic policies and the creation of special economic zones.

Special Economic Zones

Cuba has established several special economic zones (SEZs) in an effort to attract foreign investment and promote economic development. These zones offer tax incentives, streamlined administrative procedures, and other benefits to companies that invest in them.

Mariel Special Development Zone

The Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) is the largest and most well-known SEZ in Cuba. Located near Havana, the ZEDM offers tax breaks, simplified customs procedures, and other incentives to foreign investors. The zone is home to a range of industries, including biotechnology, renewable energy, and logistics.

Other incentives

In addition to the SEZs, there are other incentives available to expats who want to start a business in Cuba. These include tax breaks for new businesses, grants and loans for startups, and simplified procedures for obtaining licenses and permits.

Challenges of doing business in Cuba

Despite the efforts to promote entrepreneurship and foreign investment, there are still significant challenges to doing business in Cuba. The country’s bureaucratic procedures can be complex and time-consuming, and there are still restrictions on foreign ownership and investment in certain sectors.

Additionally, the United States’ economic embargo against Cuba, which has been in place since 1962, continues to restrict economic activity between the two countries. While recent changes to US policy have opened up some opportunities for US businesses in Cuba, the embargo remains a significant barrier to trade and investment.

Starting a business or becoming self-employed in Cuba can be a rewarding but challenging experience. While the country offers a unique cultural and historical environment, the bureaucratic procedures and restrictions on economic activity can make it difficult to navigate. However, with the right approach and the right resources, it is possible to succeed in Cuba’s growing entrepreneurial sector. By following the steps outlined in this article and taking advantage of the available incentives and programs, expats can establish successful businesses and contribute to Cuba’s economic development.


Latest Videos

Vietnam - True or False?

Expat Focus 29 October 2023 11:15 am

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Important: No API Key Entered.

Many features are not available without adding an API Key. Please go to the YouTube Feed settings page to add an API key after following these instructions.