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Cigar Tips and Tricks

The New Rules on Cuban Cigars

Oct 17, 2016 | By CA Editors
The New Rules on Cuban Cigars
Photo/Richard Boll

The new laws on Cuban cigars allow travelers to bring more Cohibas, Montecristos, Romeo y Julietas and other Cuban cigars into the United States. This applies not only to cigars purchased in Cuba, but also to Cuban cigars bought elsewhere in the world. It's not a free-for-all—some limits remain—so the editors of Cigar Aficionado have created this list to answer your questions about what you can and cannot do.

I'm going to London. Is it OK to bring back that box of Behikes?
Yes you can. Bringing back Cubans from a third-party country was off limits before today, but not anymore. You may return to the U.S. with Cuban cigars from most any country.

I'm going to Havana next month. What about the $100 limit?
That has been dropped. Before this change, you would have only been allowed $400 worth of Cuban goods, only $100 of which could consist of tobacco and/or alcohol, which didn't buy you very much in the way of great cigars. Those limits have been removed.

I have a big suitcase. Can I bring home 20 boxes?
So long as you don't intend to sell them. Resale of any kind is prohibited. But you will have to pay tax on most of those cigars when you reach the U.S. The U.S. allows you to bring in up to 100 cigars (four standard boxes) or $800 worth without paying a duty, whether the cigars are Cuban, Dominican, Nicaraguan or from another country. You can do this once every 31 days. Quantities above that will be taxed. And if you're bringing more than 50 Cuban cigars from Cuba, Cuban officials will expect you to have invoices before you even leave the country. Keep your paperwork.

Can I give Cuban cigars as gifts?
Yes you can. While you're prohibited from reselling any Cuban cigars you come home with, the Office of Foreign Assets Control's new laws allow you to give them away as gifts. Your friends will be happy.

I live near the Canadian border—can I bring back Cuban cigars at will?
Yes, with the tax limits we mentioned above, once every 31 days.

So I can't bring back all the boxes I see?
No. But you can bring back many more than before.

What about ordering Cuban cigars off the Internet, to be mailed to me? Is that now legal?

Does this mean Cuban cigars will be sold in my local American cigar shop?
No, the embargo still exists and that part of the law remains unchanged. Selling Cuban cigars in the U.S. remains prohibited.

I'm a foreign traveler who lives outside of the U.S.—what about when I travel to the U.S.? Does this affect how I can travel with my cigars?
Yes, the new laws do affect foreign travelers. Previously, foreign passengers were prohibited from bringing Cuban-origin tobacco or alcohol into the U.S. The new rules, however, have removed this restriction. You can come to the U.S. with Cuban cigars (and rum) if you're a foreign passenger, so long as the goods are not in "commercial quantities" and not for resale.

I’m bringing back Cuban cigars from a trip abroad. Should I take any precautions?
Be informed and be prepared. 

We recommend printing out this sheet of frequently asked questions posted by the Treasury Department. Items 34 and 35 specifically highlight your right to bring back Cuban cigars for personal consumption. Have it handy if you’re challenged by a Customs agent who may not be in the know.

Are Cuban cigars now regulated by the FDA?
No, the FDA only regulates cigars that are sold in the U.S., and Cuban cigars still cannot be sold in America.

What Cuban cigars should I buy?
You asked the right people. Here's a list of eight of the top-rated Cubans from our recent tastings. If you want a certain brand or size, search our database.

"Im a novice. Just started smoking cigars and I'm in ocho rios jamaica and I would like to buy some cigars here for myself and for my future (May 19th 2018) groomsmen. I have no issue with paying the duty I just need to know what types should I buy. I see some romeo juliets here but seems very expensive at 32 dollars a pop. " —June 10, 2017 14:34 PM
"Sorry for the beginner level question but Ill be traveling to Vinales Cuba and wanted get clarification bringing back some unbranded cigars from the farms. I tried to search on the US Customs website but wasnt able to find any definitive info if cigars need any special labeling/seal or otherwise to be permitted back into the US. I know you can bring cigars back from official state run shops that put the official hologram on their boxes, but not sure about the generic kind....any help appreciated...thx " —March 18, 2017 22:08 PM
"What's the tax on the duty over $800 worth of goods? " —October 26, 2016 15:10 PM
"The article missed a few points... 1. You will have to visit Cuba for more than 48 hours before you will be able to bring cigars back to US. 2. The limit is 100 cigars worth $800. 3. You can purchase 100 cigars worth $ 1600, but will pay 4%. On all purchases between $ 801. -- $ 1600 4. Over $ 1600 in purchased cigars will be be subject to a fine that could be very costly.. So, YES. You can bring back 20 boxes but get your wallet out to pay fines that might exceed % 50." —October 26, 2016 10:50 AM
"Just returned from London with a box of Punch Punch. I tried to get a VAT refund, but the retailer had no idea how to print the VAT 407 form. Is it possible to get the VAT refunded on cigars? That would knock 17% off of the total price. " —October 25, 2016 18:50 PM
"You have always been able to buy booze in Duty Free and bring it into the US -- that doesn't meran the US is "admitting" there is no health risk associated with alcohol. Get real, guys, you literally do not even know how the FDA regulations are going to affect you yet. You just hate government. Enjoy losing yet another election in 3 weeks :)" —October 17, 2016 21:24 PM
"CA is reporting the facts they did not approve the legislation. I don't see why you'd want them to editorialize on a piece that is meant to be informative regarding news in the cigar world." —October 17, 2016 21:19 PM
"Nothing like kicking the US retailers in the face while on their knees already since many are struggling/surviving on life-suport combined with FDA rule 1 with more rulings to come. Likely a significant number of B&M's will close in the next 5 years and some e-tailers too . . . happy days. I ought to have gone Cuban cigars sales within the US first then travel imports adjusted or even at the same time." —October 17, 2016 18:50 PM
"Disappointed again in CA. Missing the point. We are not allowed to sell the cigars, but they are allowed into the country via consumers. The administration is admitting here that there is no public health threat from cigars. Bring as many of these in-regulated cigars as you like. Bring them back and share them with all your friends. No problem to consumers and the administration. No sales tax, no SChip, no state floor tax. No problem. It's just another bad trade deal from an administration that knows nothing and cares nothing for the cigar business we know and love. They only care about stepping on our throat." —October 17, 2016 18:07 PM

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