Get ready to pack your bags and suitcases with Cuban cigars and rum. The U.S. Treasury Department announced today that it has removed the previous limits on bringing Cuban cigars and Cuban rum back into the United States from any country in the world, Cuba or otherwise. This means the $100 limit instituted two years ago is no more.
So long as the cigars are brought back in personal baggage and are intended for personal consumption, U.S. Customs will let your Cuban cigars through. This means that the deceptive days of removing bands, hiding cigars in your dirty laundry and lying to customs officers are officially over, effective Monday, October 17.
This applies only to cigars and rum you will either enjoy yourself, or give to another individual. The Office of Foreign Assets Control stresses that resale of Cuban cigars, distribution or commerce of any kind are still illegal, as the trade embargo remains in effect. OFAC does, however, consider giving a cigar or a bottle of rum to another individual to fall under personal use, so long as there is no payment.
The new law is applicable only to travelers. Mail order and Internet orders for Cuban cigars and rum are still prohibited.
And while the new ease in restrictions means that the number of personal cigars is technically unlimited, there is still an amount of duty that will have to be paid after a certain quantity is exceeded. OFAC's website points to an $800 exemption of duty every 31 days, and stresses duty-free limits of 100 cigars. According to OFAC's website: "A traveler may include up to 100 cigars and 200 cigarettes in the $800 exemption from duty... Additional cigars and cigarettes may be brought into the country, but they will be subject to duty and Federal excise taxes." Excess amounts are subject to a 4 percent flat rate of duty.
This easing of restrictions opens up the entire world of Cuban cigar retail to U.S. enthusiasts travelling abroad. American citizens who go to Cuba, London, Dubai, Hong Kong or Switzerland, for example, will now be allowed to come home with Cohibas, Montecristos and other Cuban cigars, as well as bottles of Havana Club, Santiago and other fine Cuban rums.
This is a major step in normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. In December 2014, the Obama administration allowed U.S. citizens returning from Cuba to bring back no more that $100 worth of Cuban cigars and rum. That concession was made after years of complete prohibition of any Cuban cigars or spirits.
Today's new legislation was put in place to "to further engage and empower the Cuban people and promote political, social, and economic reform in Cuba," said the U.S. Treasury in an official statement.