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Travel and Cuba and Cigars

As pandemic restrictions begin to loosen, Americans seem to be ready to travel. Airlines report more flights, airports report more traffic, and the roads certainly seem to have more cars. News outlets are full of stories about people getting out and tourist destinations re-opening (as they find employees). Social media accounts are filling with pictures from destinations both relaxing and odd - usual vacation stuff.

In a cigar shop, conversations about travel almost always lead to discussions of Cuban cigars and their purchase. It is hard to find a clear answer to the inevitable, “Can I bring back cigars from Cuba?” The US Department of Treasury website’s FAQs contains this polite response dated 09/23/2020, “Please note that effective September 24, 2020, authorized travelers may no longer return to the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba as accompanied baggage for personal use.” The same seems to apply to those buying such products in a third country.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website is a bit more direct, “Effective September 24, 2020, authorized travelers may no longer return to the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba as accompanied baggage for personal use.” This seems to update the policy from 2019 which allowed a traveller to return with “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” (CPB Public Notice on Process for Imports from Cuba).

This may all change again, but not quickly. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, although President Biden was expected to enact a thaw in US/Cuba relations similar to President Obama “the White House says this is not a top priority.” However, not everyone is waiting on action from Washington, D.C. Check back next week for more...


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