Here’s What Americans Can Legally Bring Back From Cuba

Here’s What Americans Can Legally Bring Back From Cuba

Returning U.S. travelers may carry up to $400 of Cuban-origin goods for personal use, $100 of which may be alcohol or tobacco products.

New rules as of October 2016: Cuban rum and cigars will now be subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries, meaning most travelers will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum up to $800 in value every 31 days and for “personal use” only.

Beyond that, it’s a little complicated but here goes.

Cuban cigars and rum are routinely confiscated at U.S. ports of entry. Purchasing Cuban cigars and rum in a “duty-free” shop at the Havana Airport does not exempt them from the $100 limitation for personal use. The limit is now $800 and 100 cigars, the same as any other country.

RELATED: The Best Cuban Rum 2015

Isolina Limonta Cuban artist

Cuban artist, Isolina Limonta. Image by Cuba Journal.

Separate from this $400 limit, certain imports of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs are authorized, as set forth on the State Department’s Section 515.582 List.

If U.S. travelers return from Cuba with unauthorized goods of Cuban origin, such goods, with the exception of informational materials, may be seized at U.S. Customs’ discretion.  There are no limits on the import or export of informational materials as set forth in 31 C.F.R. section 515.206. Blank tapes and CDs are not considered informational materials and may be seized. To be considered informational material, artwork must be classified under Chapter subheading 9701, 9702, or 9703 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (for example, original paintings, drawings, pastels, engravings, prints, and sculptures are exempt from import and export restrictions).

Q&A with the U.S. State Department:

Q: Which goods and services are eligible for importation under this regulation?

A: The State Department’s Section 515.582 list authorizes the importation of all goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, as demonstrated by documentary evidence, except for goods in certain listed sections and chapters of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) of the United States, and subject to compliance with all other relevant requirements under state and federal law and regulations. Services supplied by independent Cuban entrepreneurs are also eligible for import unless they fall within one of the listed exceptions on the State Department’s Section 515.582 list, and subject to compliance with other requirements in state and federal law and regulations.

Exporters may also require documentation that their products meet all required standards for safety, including sanitary and phytosanitary requirements.

Q: Will the Cuban government allow independent entrepreneurs to export to the United States?

A: We cannot predict what the Cuban government will or will not allow, but we hope that it makes this and other new opportunities available to Cuba’s nascent private sector. This is another measure intended to support the ability of the Cuban people to gain greater control over their own lives and determine their country’s future.Havana Club rum

Q: What are some examples of independent Cuban entrepreneurs?

A: Cuba’s nascent private sector includes self-employed individuals, private small businesses, and private cooperatives that are independent of Cuba’s state sector. Those importing goods or services authorized by § 515.582 must obtain documentary evidence that demonstrates the entrepreneur’s independent status, such as a copy of a license to be self-employed issued by the Cuban government or, in the case of an entity, evidence that demonstrates that the entrepreneur is a private entity that is not owned or controlled in whole or in part by the Cuban government.

Q: Do Cuban entrepreneurs require a license from the Cuban government?

A: Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction importing goods are required to obtain evidence that demonstrates the Cuban entrepreneur’s independent status, and, in the case of an entity, that the entity is private (i.e., not owned or controlled in whole or in part by the Cuban government). The Cuban government issues licenses to private individuals for self-employment or to operate small private businesses. Evidence that the entrepreneur holds this license, such as a copy of the license, is one way that a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction can show that the entrepreneur that provided the goods/services intended for importation holds independent status. However, third party verification by an independent organization may also suffice in the future.

Q: Will authorized imports of goods undertaken pursuant to this regulation be subject to tariffs?

A: Yes, authorized goods are subject to applicable duties, taxes, and fees. For travelers importing authorized goods into the United States pursuant to § 515.582 as accompanied baggage, the $400 monetary limit set forth in § 515.560(c)(3) of the CACR does not apply to such goods. If goods are for personal use, certain personal exemptions from U.S. Customs and Border Protection may apply.

Q: Do existing personal duty exemptions apply to Cuban goods coming into the United States from Cuba? If so, when?

A: Yes, standard personal duty exemptions apply when goods are accompanied by the traveler and are for personal use. For example, a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) standard personal exemption of up to $800 could include $400 of Cuban goods under the OFAC authorization for the importation of merchandise as accompanied baggage (§ 515.560(c)(3) of the CACR) and another $400 under the OFAC authorization for the importation of certain goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs (§ 515.582 of the CACR). Personal duty exemptions do not apply to commercial imports. To learn more, please visit the CBP webpage at:https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/246/~/duty–free-exemption.

Q: Where can I find out which tariffs will apply on goods coming into the United States from Cuba?

A: Goods that fall outside of the personal duty exemptions will be subject to tariffs. For a searchable database of tariff rates associated with a particular product, please see the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule:http://dataweb.usitc.gov/scripts/tariff_current.asp.

Q: How often will the State Department update this list?

A: The Department of State, in consultation with other federal agencies, updates this list periodically. Updates take effect when published on the webpage of the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs’ Office of Economic Sanctions Policy and Implementation (http://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi). Updates are also published to the Federal Register.

Q: When was this list last updated by the State Department?

A: The most recent update to this list was made on April 22, 2016. This update will also be published to the Federal Register.

Q: What did the update on April 22, 2016 include?

A: This update made the following categories of goods eligible for import through their removal from the exclusionary list: coffee (HTS 0901) and additional textiles and textile articles (Section XI, Chapters 51 and 52). Also, imports of these items no longer need to be made directly from Cuba.


Excluded Goods

The goods whose import is authorized by Section 515.582 are goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, as demonstrated by documentary evidence, that are imported into the United States, except for goods specified in the following sections/chapters of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS):

  • Section I: Live Animals; Animal Products
    • All chapters
  • Section II: Vegetable Products
    • All chapters, except Chapter 9 heading 0901 (coffee)
      **Please note that exporters will be required to prove that they have met all sanitary and phytosanitary standards, including food safety.
  • Section III: Animal or Vegetable Fats and Oils and their Cleavage Products; Prepared Edible Fats; Animal or Vegetable Waxes
    • All chapters
  • Section IV: Prepared Foodstuffs; Beverages, Spirits, and Vinegar; Tobacco and Manufactured Tobacco Substitutes
    • All chapters
  • Section V: Mineral Products
    • All chapters
  • Section VI: Products of the Chemical or Allied Industries
    • Chapters 28-32; 35-36, 38
  • Section XV: Base Metals and Articles of Base Metal
    • Chapters 72-81
  • Section XVI: Machinery and Mechanical Appliances; Electrical Equipment; Parts Thereof; Sound Recorders and Reproducers, Television Image and Sound Recorders and Reproducers, and Parts and Accessories of Such Articles
    • All chapters
  • Section XVII: Vehicles, Aircraft, Vessels, and Associated Transportation Equipment
    • All chapters
  • Section XIX: Arms and Ammunition; Parts and Accessories Thereof
    • All chapters

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction engaging in import transactions involving goods produced by an independent Cuban entrepreneur pursuant to § 515.582 must obtain documentary evidence that demonstrates the entrepreneur’s independent status, such as a copy of a license to be self-employed issued by the Cuban government or, in the case of an entity, evidence that demonstrates that the entrepreneur is a private entity that is not owned or controlled by the Cuban government.

Here’s What Americans Can Legally Bring Back From Cuba was last modified: March 28th, 2017 by Cuba Journal

Comments

comments