Bringing Back Goods
Exporting Cigars and Alcohol
Alcohol and cigars are among the most popular items for tourists to buy in Cuba to
bring back with them to their countries of origin. If you plan on exporting these
goods, there are some important restrictions which you should know about.
Cuban law stipulates that up to 20 loose cigars (out of a box) can be exported, per
person, without having to provide any form of proof as to where the cigars were
obtained. The authorities will not bother to determine if these cigars are authentic
or just street level knockoffs. Furthermore, you are allowed to export a maximum of
50 cigars per person, without having to show a proof of purchase, provided that at
least 30 of the cigars are contained in legitimate factory boxes with the authentic
seals. It's important to note that the 50 cigar total includes the 20 loose cigars men-
In total, you are allowed to export as many cigars as you want, but for all cigars
past the initial 50, you will have to provide an official proof of purchase receipt.
These laws are established by Cuba in order to reduce the proliferation of cheap
quality, knock off cigars and to protect the state monopoly on authentic Cuban ci-
As for alcohol, you are allowed to export as much as you want, but you must al-
ways be certain to either pack your purchases away in your checked luggage, or to
purchase your bottles of alcohol after clearing customs at the airport terminal. At
most airports in Cuba, bottles of alcohol will be sold at the main terminal, and, all
too often, tourists buy bottles there expecting to pass through the security check-
points and board the plane with the bottles in their carry-on bags. This is not al-
lowed in Cuba. As soon as the travelers reach the airplane checkpoint, these
bottles of alcohol are confiscated.
If you want to take bottles of alcohol in your carry-on bags, make sure to purchase
them after the security checkpoint. At every airport there will be dozens of shops
and boutiques selling alcohol in the “duty free” zone after the checkpoint and be-
fore you board the plane. Also note that in most Cuban airports, when you pur-
chase alcohol in the “duty free zone” it will usually be exactly the same price as in
any other state store, but you will also be required to buy a special, clear plastic
bag for your purchases, in order for them to be admissible as carry-on items. This
bag costs about 1CUC. Fundamentally, this is just a money grab and another great
reason to buy your alcohol well ahead of time and pack it in your checked luggage.
Important Note: While the above section details the specifications set by the
Cuban government on exports of alcohol and tobacco products, you should also
check the import limitations set by the government of your own country of origin.