The US Customs and Border pretection states that I cannot bring "tobacco products acquired in Cuba... for personal use". I understand this to mean that I cannot bring Cigars bought in Cuba directly to the US.

However, is it legal for me to bring Cuban cigars for personal use (only about 5-10 cigars for a wedding) bought in the UK to the USA?

For background / context, I have never been to Cuba, and I will be flying to the US direct from Portugal.

  • 2
    Apparently Biden has better things to do than to try to put back everything Trump took away that Obama gave us. (didn't know they were illegal again)
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


No, your interpretation is incorrect, this is also forbidden. The logic of the rules is the following: § 515.204 basically forbids importing anything connected to Cuba. Then § 515.585 created a limited carve-out for things that were imported for personal use. Finally alcohol and tobacco were explicitly excluded from this carve-out in September 2020, thus reverting to being entirely banned.

A careful reading of your source in light of all this confirms this interpretation:

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 does not mean that alcohol and tobacco products are only forbidden when acquired in Cuba and imported as accompanied baggage for personal use. It means that goods imported in this scenario are no longer exempt from the more general ban. That is what changed in September 2020.

Persons subject to United States jurisdiction may purchase or acquire goods of Cuban origin, including alcohol and tobacco products, while they are in a third country for personal consumption outside the United States.

Adding “for personal consumption outside the United States” clearly implies that importing those products for personal consumption in the US is still forbidden but at least you cannot be prosecuted for smoking a Cuban cigar abroad. That's separate and in addition to the rules around authorized travel and bringing things into the US directly from Cuba.

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    What’s the penalty for violating this rule? If it’s just a fine, OP might be open to paying it. Many consider sanctions on Cuba to be immoral and thus wouldn’t consider a sanctions violation to be immoral either.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 16:19
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    @JonathanReez-onstrike That's not the question, though.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 20:54
  • 2
    That's definitely the question. How much do they care about this thing they didn't care about for a second there (Thanks, Obama), but apparently they now care about again? 65,000 dollars worth of caring, that's how much. My god. morganlewis.com/-/media/… And their street value is "anywhere from $7 or $8 to hundreds of dollars apiece". Dang... should've bought me some stogies. Thanks, Trump.
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 1:56
  • @JonathanReez-onstrike if you declare them I assume they'd be confiscated not allowed to be imported after paying a penalty. Like with any other form of law enforcement, lying to customs (by not declaring them) is never a good idea. Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 6:28
  • 1
    @Mazura No, the question was whether that's legal. If you want to know something else, ask another question.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 7:07

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