Cuban Cigar Laws

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 What Are Cuban Cigars?

A Cuban cigar is a specific type of tobacco product which is produced and manufactured in the country of Cuba. These cigars are generally highly praised and sought-after based on their reputation of being well-crafted and using high quality tobacco.

The high demand for Cuban cigars that are authentic as well as their legal status in the United States has made them somewhat of a rare commodity. There are many companies that have attempted to and do pass off inferior cigars as Cuban cigars in order to make a profit.

Are Cuban Cigars Legal in the U.S.?

Importing cigars from Cuba into the United States is highly restricted. Although the majority of individuals believe that it is totally illegal to bring a Cuban cigar into the country, there are certain limited circumstances in which they can, in fact, be imported from Cuba.

In order to import cigars from Cuba, there are several requirements which must be met, including:

  • The individual is returning directly to the U.S. from Cuba. In other words, they did not stop in a different country first;
  • The visit to Cuba was “licensed”. Individuals who can be licensed for such a trip include:
    • Cuban-Americans;
    • athletes;
    • politicians;
    • researchers;
    • religious groups; and
    • other individuals;
  • The total value of the cigars does not exceed $100 in U.S. domestic prices; and
  • Cuban cigars may only be imported if they will be for personal use.

Can Cuban Cigars be Sold in the U.S.?

No, Cuban cigars cannot be sold in the United States. As previously noted, they may only be imported for personal use which means they cannot be resold for money once they are brought into the United States.

This rule applies whether a private citizen wishes to make a sale or a licensed tobacco vendor does. Many individuals associate tobacco companies with class action tobacco lawsuits.

Cuban cigar class action lawsuits, however, are not common at all because the cigars themselves are very highly restricted.

When is it Legal to Import Cuban Cigars?

According to the United States Treasury Department, an individual may only bring Cuban cigars into the United States if they return directly from Cuba and their visit to Cuba was licensed, as noted above. Individuals who may be permitted to visit Cuba include:

  • Politicians;
  • Cuban Americans;
  • Journalists;
  • Legitimate researchers;
  • Athletes; and
  • Religious groups.

Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal?

Cuban cigars have been banned in the United States for political reasons. The U.S. placed sanctions and embargoes on Cuba, which also applied to Cuban tobacco products.

It is important to note that this has not always been the case and the rules and regulations may change again with each new administration. If an individual desires to obtain Cuban cigars, their best bet is to stay up-to-day with the news and regulations regarding their importation.

For many years, Cuban cigars were deemed illegal products because of the tense relations between Cuba and the United States. In the last decade, however, there have been several changes.

The United States amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) on September 23, 2020 to again ban importing of Cuban cigars. Some of these regulations had been relaxed under the Obama administration, which included those on tobacco products from Cuba.

Can I Purchase Cuban Cigars Online in the U.S.?

If an individual performs a brief online search, they will discover numerous websites which claim to be able to send them authentic Cuban cigars. However attractive this idea may seem, it is important not to fall for it.

Even if a traveler is permitted to bring Cuban cigars into the U.S. themselves, the sale and commercial import of cigars is still prohibited. Purchasing Cuban cigars is not and has not been legal.

In addition, because the restrictions are being tightened again on these types of products, attempting to purchase them online is an even worse idea. An individual may be setting themselves up to face severe penalties.

It is important to remember that the changes in regulations are relatively recent and not all online importers and shops may have updated the information on their websites. An individual may wind up paying for a package which never arrives if they decide to try and order anyway.

When Did Cuban Cigars Become Legal?

Bringing Cuban cigars to the United States for personal consumption was made legal in 2014. All imports of Cuban products, including cigars, however, were banned again in September 2020.

Can I Bring Cuban Cigars in My Carry-on Luggage?

Due to the heightened restrictions on Cuban products in September 2020, travelers are not permitted to bring Cuban cigars into the United States. This also applies to carry on items brought to the U.S. for personal consumption.

Do You Have to Declare Cuban Cigars?

Cuban tobacco products are prohibited from entering the United States as of September 2020. If an individual is carrying Cuban cigars in their carry-on or checked baggage, they may be committing a criminal offense.

Are There Any Other Restrictions on Importing Cuban Cigars?

Yes, returning from a licensed visit to Cuba is only one requirement for importing Cuban cigars. As previously noted, other requirements include that the domestic value of the cigars may not exceed $100 and the cigars must be for personal use and not for resale.

Can I Purchase Cuban Cigars in the United States?

No, Cuban cigars cannot be purchased in the United States. The U.S. Treasury Department provides that individuals should assume that all offers to purchase or sell Cuban cigars involve illegally imported cigars.

Can I Import Cuban Cigars From Another Country?

No, an individual cannot import Cuban cigars from another country. Travelers are prohibited from acquiring Cuban cigars in a third country and bringing them into the United States. For example, it is illegal to obtain Cuban cigars in Canada and bring them to the U.S.

Are there any Legal Penalties for Violations of Cuban Cigar Laws?

Yes, a violation of any requirement related to Cuban cigars may lead to severe legal consequences. For example, an individual may face a fine of up to $50,000.

An individual may also face criminal consequences. In addition to these consequences, the cigars will likely be confiscated.

Violations of laws regarding Cuban cigars may involve illegal:

  • Importation;
  • Sales;
  • Trades; or
  • Other transactions.

As with any type of tobacco product, sales of cigars involving minors are prohibited. The penalties for violating Cuban cigar law may result in consequences similar to or more serious than those which are associated with possession of paraphernalia charges, which will be further discussed below.

The penalties discussed above may apply for individuals who are doing any of the following with Cuban cigars:

  • Importing;
  • Buying;
  • Selling;
  • Trading;
  • Giving away; and/or
  • Otherwise engaging in transactions associated with illegally imported Cuban cigars.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Cuban Cigar Laws?

The restrictions on product imports and trades may be complex and subject to frequent changes. This is especially true in the case of specific products, such as Cuban cigars.

If you have any issues, questions, or concerns related to Cuban cigars, it may be helpful to consult with an attorney. Your attorney can inform you of the current laws governing Cuban cigars and how they may affect you. In addition, your drug lawyer can represent you if you need to file a lawsuit, appear in court, or have been charged with a crime related to Cuban cigars.

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