In recent years, the U.S. treasury department has cracked down on the illegal importation of Cuban cigars into the United States. While there are many cigar aficionados here, it is hard to come by a good Cuban cigar in the United States. But Cuban cigars can be imported under very limited circumstances.

When Is It Legal to Import Cuban Cigars?

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, you can only bring Cuban cigars into the United States if you are returning directly from Cuba and your visit to Cuba was licensed. Examples of those who can be licensed to visit Cuba include the following: 

  • Politicians
  • Cuban Americans
  • Journalists
  • Legitimate researchers
  • Athletes
  • Religious groups

Are There Any Other Restrictions on Importing Cuban Cigars?

Yes. Returning from a licensed visit to Cuba is not the only requirement for importing Cuban cigars. Other requirements are: 

  • The domestic value of the cigars cannot exceed $100
  • The cigars must be for personal use and not for resale

Can I Buy Cuban Cigars in the United States?

No. The Treasury Department says that you should assume that all offers to buy or sell Cuban cigars involve illegally imported cigars. 

Can I Import Cuban Cigars from Another Country?

No. It is illegal for travelers to acquire Cuban cigars in a third country and bring them into the United States. For example, it is illegal to acquire Cuban cigars in Canada and bring them into the United States.

What Are the Penalties for Dealing with Illegally Imported Cuban Cigars?

The penalties for illegally importing, buying, selling, trading, giving away or otherwise engaging transactions involving illegally imported Cuban cigars can be very stiff. The cigars can (and likely will) be confiscated. You also may face civil fines of up to $50,000.  In some cases you could even face a criminal trial that could result in jail time.

I’m Interested in Cuban Cigars, Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are interested in Cuban cigars, there is really only one legal way to get them and that is to get a license to visit Cuba. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible to receive a license to visit Cuba. If you are accused of illegally importing or dealing illegally imported Cuban cigars, contact a lawyer immediately. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can advise you of your rights and defenses.