Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States for political reasons. The US has placed embargoes and sanctions on Cuba which also apply to Cuban tobacco products.
However, it has not always been this way and the regulations may change again with the new administration. If you are yearning for true Cuban cigars then the best thing you can do is stay up-to-date with the news.
Are Cuban Cigars Illegal in the United States?
For decades, Cuban cigars were considered an illegal product due to the tense relations between the United States and Cuba. However, in the last 10 years there have been several changes.
As of 23 september 2020, the United States amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to once again ban the import of Cuban cigars. Previously, under the Obama administration, some of these regulations were relaxed including those on Cuban tobacco products.
A Short History of Cuban Cigar Regulations in the United States
John F. Kennedy installs a trade embargo on all Cuban imports including tobacco.
Obama announces a relaxation of the trade embargo. Travelers are allowed to bring up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars into the United States for personal consumption.
A partial lift of the US trade embargo on Cuba also lifts the limits on bringing in Cuban cigars for personal consumption. Online purchases and mail orders of Cuban tobacco products remain illegal.
Trump announces a stronger stance on Cuban sanctions which prohibits any Cuban imports, including tobacco products.
The period of 2014-2019 were a joyous time for cigar lovers. It was finally possible to smoke a true Cuban, again. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether this will be possible again anytime soon.
Why Are Cuban Cigars Illegal in the United States?
To understand why Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States you will have to dive into the history books. It is a matter of political relations between Cuba and the United States. It does not concern the product itself.
For political reasons which kicked off in the 1960s, the US and Cuba have had a tense relationship. This relationship seemed to improve under the Obama administration. The exceptions on Cuban rum and tobacco products was a symbol of this.
In short, it is not what is in Cuban cigars that makes them illegal but rather where they come from. Those that have tried true Cohibas may tell you that they truly are different but that is not the reason why they are banned in the states.
What Happens If You Get Caught with a Cuban Cigar?
Even though Cuban cigars are banned from the United States, some still try to sneak them in. Understand that this is a criminal offense and has serious consequences.
Travelers caught with Cuban cigars, whether for the purpose of resale or personal consumption, can face penalties in the US. Penalties depend on the severity of the case. This can range from confiscation of the products or a fine to a criminal case.
Can I Buy Cuban Cigars Online in the US in 2021?
A quick search online and you will find several websites that claim to be able to send you real Cuban cigars. However attractive this idea may be, don’t fall for it.
Even when travelers were allowed to bring in Cuban cigars themselves, the sale and commercial import of cigars was still illegal in the US. Exactly, buying Cuban cigars online was never legal.
With the tightening of restrictions on Cuban products buying these cigars online has become an even worse idea. You will be putting yourself at risk of serious penalties.
Understand that this latest change in regulations is quite recent. Perhaps not all online shops and importers have updated their website info. You might pay for package that never arrives if you still decide to order.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When Did Cuban Cigars Become Legal?
Bringing in Cuban cigars for personal consumption was made legal in 2014. However, all imports of Cuban products, including cigars, are once again banned per September 2020.
Can I Bring Cuban Cigars in My Carry On?
Since the increased restrictions on Cuban products from September 2020, travelers are not allowed to bring in Cuban cigars to the United States. This also applies to carry on items for personal consumption.
Do You Have to Declare Cuban Cigars?
As of September 2020 Cuban tobacco products may not enter the United States. If you are carrying Cuban cigars in your carry-on or checked baggage you would be committing an offense.
The import of Cuban cigars, both for commercial purposes and personal consumption, is illegal in the United States. This is not because of the contents of these tobacco products but rather the political relations between the United States and Cuba.
The days that you could bring in a box of Cuban cigars are unfortunately over again. It is unclear whether the September 2020 changes in CACR will change under the new administration. For the time being, you will have to enjoy the excellent cigars from elsewhere in Central and South America.