Cuba Journal

How to Import Goods from Cuba into the U.S.

Cuba is the only country in the world where Americans are subject to travel restrictions, and importing goods from Cuba adds another layer of complexity for people seeking import compliance for Cuban goods.

But it’s worth it.

Importing Commercial Goods from Cuba

Commercial imports authorized under § 515.582 of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR),  Importation of Certain Goods and Services Produced by Independent Cuban Entrepreneurs, must comply with all current U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other U.S. government agency requirements.  For the import of commercial goods, such as for retail sale in the United States, CBP generally requires a customs informal entry for goods valued under $2,500, and a formal entry for goods exceeding $2,500.

Under the 2015 Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), Cuba is a Column 2 country, and is therefore subject to specific duty rates.

Cigars in Havana. Image by Cuba Journal

Importing Goods for Personal Use from Cuba

Imports by authorized travelers of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs are subject to the following:

31 C.F.R. § 515.582 authorizes importations of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, as set forth on the State Department’s Section 515.582 List without a limitation on the value of the goods.  However, these goods are still subject to the applicable provisions of the HTSUS.  Imports by private individuals authorized under § 515.582 of the CACR are allowed an $800 exemption from customs duties in accordance with the HTSUS, if the goods are for personal use.  The first $1,000 above that $800 will be assessed duty at rate of 4%, pursuant to the HTSUS.  The $800 exemption and the application of the 4% duty rate for the first $1,000 above the $800 exemption will be multiplied by the number of qualified family members traveling.  So, for example, a qualified family of three would be eligible for a $2,400 exemption from duty, and the $3,000 above that would receive a 4% duty rate.  Please be aware that CBP may deem goods accompanying passengers in excess of these values as a commercial shipment and treat them according to the commercial procedures in the above paragraph.

Imports by authorized travelers of goods other than those authorized 31 C.F.R. § 515.582 are subject to the following:

OFAC is removing the monetary value limitations on what authorized travelers may import from Cuba into the United States as accompanied baggage.  This includes the value limitation on alcohol and tobacco products.  Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be further authorized to import Cuban-origin merchandise acquired in third countries into the United States as accompanied baggage, again without value limitations.  OFAC is also removing the prohibition on foreign travelers importing Cuban-origin alcohol and tobacco products into the United States as accompanied baggage.  In all cases, the Cuban-origin goods must be imported for personal use, and normal limits on duty and tax exemptions will apply.

HTSUS Duty Free Exemptions for Alcohol and Tobacco:

Not Returning Resident

Articles imported by or for the account of any person arriving in the United States who is not a returning resident thereof:

9804.00.25 Not over 50 cigars, or 200 cigarettes, or 2 kilograms of smoking tobacco  or a proportionate amount of each, and not over 1 liter of alcoholic beverages, when brought in by an adult nonresident for his own consumption.

9804.00.30 Not exceeding $100 in value of articles (not including alcoholic beverages and cigarettes but including not more than 100 cigars) accompanying such person to be disposed of by him as bona fide gifts, if such person has not claimed an exemption under this subheading (9804.00.30) within the 6 months immediately preceding his arrival and he intends to remain in the United States for not less than 72 hours.

9804.00.40  Not exceeding $200 in value of articles (including not more than 4 liters of alcoholic beverages) accompanying such a person who is in transit to a place outside United States customs territory and who will take the articles with him to such place.

Returning Resident

Articles imported by or for the account of any person arriving in the United States who is a returning resident, has attained the age of 21, after having remained beyond the United States for a period of not less than 48 hours, for his or her personal or household use, but not imported for the account of any other person nor intended for sale, if declared in accordance with regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury and if such person has not claimed, an exemption under subheadings 9804.00.65, 9804.00.70 and 9804.00.72 within 30 days preceding his arrival, and claims exemption under only one of such items on his arrival:

9804.00.80 Articles (including not over 50 cigars, or 300 cigarettes, or 2 kilograms of smoking tobacco or a proportionate amount of each, and not over 1 liter of alcoholic beverages), reasonable and appropriate, and intended exclusively, for the bona fide personal use of, and (except for articles consumed in use) to be taken out of the United States by, any person arriving in the United States who is leaving a vessel, vehicle or aircraft, engaged in international traffic, on which he or she is employed, with the intention of resuming such employment.

How to Import Goods from Cuba into the U.S. was last modified: February 27th, 2017 by