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Best strategy for packing cigars back from Cuba

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All:

Sorry for the newbie question -- did try to search the forums to see if this had been addressed.

When you're bringing back cigars from Cuba, what's the best practice on packing them? Carry-on? Checked bag? Split between the two? I'm guessing that I'll likely have 200 or so, split between customs and others. My wife will be with me as well to count against the various limits.

I'd appreciate any advise to help smooth the journey, both through customs on either end, as well as making sure everything gets home in one piece.

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All:
Sorry for the newbie question -- did try to search the forums to see if this had been addressed.
When you're bringing back cigars from Cuba, what's the best practice on packing them? Carry-on? Checked bag? Split between the two? I'm guessing that I'll likely have 200 or so, split between customs and others. My wife will be with me as well to count against the various limits.
I'd appreciate any advise to help smooth the journey, both through customs on either end, as well as making sure everything gets home in one piece.


I always keep boxes in my carry on, typically a suitcase or duffle bag and have the facturas ready to show because with that many they’ve always asked to see the factura. For customs I will split them between carry on and checked. Having more than 50 customs (this amount can be lower or higher) the can confiscate. Splitting them lessens the odds of that.

Find the section to do an introduction to the group and a bit about you and you’ll find it’s a great resource and a get group of people.


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My wife & I just 30 minutes ago went through  U S Customs at the Miami cruise terminal & just now through TSA security at MIA. No questions & no problems whatsoever. 

I’m carrying 250 custom rolls (6 bundles), four boxes of regular production CC’s, & four bottles of rum. I have all but 3 boxes regular production & the rum in my two carryon bags. I put the 3 boxes & the rum in our checked luggage.  I really don’t expect any issues with any of that either, but I guess I’ll find out when we land this afternoon in Pensacola.  

This is our second re-entry from the island through Customs. They just don’t really care at all about cigars and rum, IMHO. 

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On 6/6/2018 at 11:33 AM, Derboesekoenig said:

That is very reassuring to hear. Thanks for the input! About 27 more days until i head over there. Coming from Atlanta though

I'm curious to hear about your experience with Atlanta customs.  I'm planning a trip in November and wondering how many I can bring back without raising the red flag so to speak.  I'll be flying out of and into Atlanta direct. I'll have my non-smoking father with me to split the load.  

I just returned a few days ago from a cruise out of Tampa.  We gathered our bags (with a little overage), and went through passport control.   Thought we would go through customs, but the line just dumped us right out into the street.  You could hear the HC bottles ringing from the suitcase as I rolled along.

FWIW, the ladys at the LCDH at Hotel National were apprehensive about selling me too many cigars and going through Cuban customs until I mentioned I was on a cruise.  They then proceeded to load me up.

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2 hours ago, bmf30180 said:

I'm curious to hear about your experience with Atlanta customs.  I'm planning a trip in November and wondering how many I can bring back without raising the red flag so to speak.  I'll be flying out of and into Atlanta direct. I'll have my non-smoking father with me to split the load.  

I just returned a few days ago from a cruise out of Tampa.  We gathered our bags (with a little overage), and went through passport control.   Thought we would go through customs, but the line just dumped us right out into the street.  You could hear the HC bottles ringing from the suitcase as I rolled along.

FWIW, the ladys at the LCDH at Hotel National were apprehensive about selling me too many cigars and going through Cuban customs until I mentioned I was on a cruise.  They then proceeded to load me up.

For Cuban customs, boxed production cigars need the factura. I would just hand carry them in a bag. For custom cigars they periodically enforce a 20 cigar limit (depending on the terminal apparently). I would put those in a check-in bag in one lump so they look okay by X-ray. For US customs you just declare them as usual and pay the duties if applicable.

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Thanks for your input!

Funny you mention the 20 cigar limit on the customs.  The roller and cashier at the National didn't want to sell more than 20 because of Cuban customs.  When I mentioned the cruise, she sold me all I wanted saying they were 'artisanal' and customs didn't care.  :confused:  

 

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Regarding the custom rolls, the limit is ridiculous because it’s all Cuban state tobacco being rolled by government employees, just like regular production. The scuttlebutt was that only Terminal 2 at the airport was really enforcing the limit of 20 and even that was dependent on which customs agent you got. So you had some people literally getting five cigars confiscated out of a 25 stick bundle and other people sailing through with hundreds.

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1 hour ago, JGD said:

I had more trouble with customs in Cuba than in Newark. I stupidly never asked for factorias - and I thought the small printed receipts were what I needed. Luckily, 40 CUCs later I was told I was all set...

Did you bribe them? Could you explain in more details?

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11 minutes ago, oliverdst said:

Did you bribe them? Could you explain in more details?

Yes. At first the woman screening the bags flagged my bags because of “too many cigars” - a little under 200 - all regular production. Another officer that spoke some English came over to ask me for the receipts - I showed him what I had but it was not sufficient. At that point he made it pretty clear that all the cigars would be confiscated unless I helped him out. Ended up passing him 40 CUCs and that was the end of it. Frankly, I most most afraid of my wife, as she was already not thrilled that I evidently wasn’t joking about the “cigar budget” I kept talking about before leaving. So, the thought of her being annoyed about the money and not even having anything to show for it was terrifying.

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This is all news to me. This must be Cuban customs giving Americans a hard time. I have been to Cuba many times from Canada with no issues, no facturas, no receipts. As a matter of fact the last time I went in March I was a little concerned as I had more of a stock to bring home and the lady at the LCDH repeatedly refused to give me facturas. She kept say no problems. Just show this receipt. I really have no idea why they don’t want to do them. Pure laziness I guess.
I also didn’t go through terminal 2 as someone mentioned. It’s always been out of CCC, HOG, and Varodero.


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17 hours ago, havanaclub said:

This is all news to me. This must be Cuban customs giving Americans a hard time. I have been to Cuba many times from Canada with no issues, no facturas, no receipts. As a matter of fact the last time I went in March I was a little concerned as I had more of a stock to bring home and the lady at the LCDH repeatedly refused to give me facturas. She kept say no problems. Just show this receipt. I really have no idea why they don’t want to do them. Pure laziness I guess.
I also didn’t go through terminal 2 as someone mentioned. It’s always been out of CCC, HOG, and Varodero.


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I also asked for a factura, but I was told that you don’t need them anymore. That was obviously a lie but I didn’t question it at the time. At the end of the day I was OK paying the 40 CUC, but next time I’ll be insisting on the facturas (while also ensuring that I have 40 CUC left in my wallet when I head to the airport, just in case).

 

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Came back thru Jose Marti on June 16. Had Facturas for all boxes but one half smoked box of Trinidads from Melia Cohiba where they refused to write me out a Factura.

Was sent off to a side room on the left side of the terminal between two gift shops. Room was staffed by 5 twenty something Aduanas. They checked all facturas with a small black fresnel  lens that they held over the shaded parts of the factura looking for a watermark.  A few minutes later I was on my way home with all of my cigars. Had 50 custom rolls in carry on and they didnt say a word.

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On 7/14/2018 at 12:38 PM, Derboesekoenig said:

Just got back and going through both Cuba AND Atlanta airports no one even bothered to ask me anything. No bags were checked. I had about 3,000 CUC worth of cigars in both checked bag and carry on

I hope that is what I experience. I will be coming back into FLL in a couple of weeks to catch a connector.  I want easy and no stress.  Glad to hear it’s possible.  We’ll see.  

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9 hours ago, crasmith said:

I hope that is what I experience. I will be coming back into FLL in a couple of weeks to catch a connector.  I want easy and no stress.  Glad to hear it’s possible.  We’ll see.  

As a general rule, avoid flying from Cuba to Florida.  Nothing but hassle.  The agents there misrepresent the rules and will confiscate your cigars.  They are misreading the rules and are only allowing 50 cigars, not the 100.  And for sure not following the 4% tax rule over 100.  The 50 cigar rule they are going off is a law around bringing cigars into the US that you plan to them immediately fly internationally to another country.  Pointing that out to them does no good.  New York, Houston, and Atlanta are the only airports to fly out of.  Let us know when you return how things went down at the airport. 

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17 hours ago, Monterey said:

As a general rule, avoid flying from Cuba to Florida.  Nothing but hassle.  The agents there misrepresent the rules and will confiscate your cigars.  They are misreading the rules and are only allowing 50 cigars, not the 100.  And for sure not following the 4% tax rule over 100.  The 50 cigar rule they are going off is a law around bringing cigars into the US that you plan to them immediately fly internationally to another country.  Pointing that out to them does no good.  New York, Houston, and Atlanta are the only airports to fly out of.  Let us know when you return how things went down at the airport. 

I’ve got to say, even though I have read, I’m a little disheartened to hear this. I’ll have my wife with me to help haul so hopefully they won’t get taken.  It’s too late to change my flights now. Thanks for the info.  

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Maybe we were just lucky but coming back thru Miami we did not have a problem one.  My disclaimer is I gambled on the kiosk passport check and may have misread the 800$ declaration. :unknown:  It was also later on a Saturday afternoon return and it was very busy and pretty backed up at both custom points.   Luck of the draw maybe.

Just split everything up between you and your wife and your carry-on and check-in.  Unless you're planning on hauling back a house load, just act like a tourist!

 

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1 hour ago, Capt. Corona said:

Maybe we were just lucky but coming back thru Miami we did not have a problem one.  My disclaimer is I gambled on the kiosk passport check and may have misread the 800$ declaration. :unknown:  It was also later on a Saturday afternoon return and it was very busy and pretty backed up at both custom points.   Luck of the draw maybe.

Just split everything up between you and your wife and your carry-on and check-in.  Unless you're planning on hauling back a house load, just act like a tourist!

 

Lol!  No, not a house load. Maybe a few bundles/boxes. 

Yes, I don’t read very well either!!! 😉  That’s my story. 

Thanks for the info!

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4 hours ago, crasmith said:

I’ve got to say, even though I have read, I’m a little disheartened to hear this. I’ll have my wife with me to help haul so hopefully they won’t get taken.  It’s too late to change my flights now. Thanks for the info.  

Someone just posted this on another forum.  They got lucky, but were warned.  In this other forum we hear how everyday people are losing anything over 2 boxes per person while flying thru Florida.  For sure mark "under 800" on the kiosk if you get the opportunity to use one.  But if you don't, or are "randomly selected" they will take anything over 2 boxes.  Those of us who go often know to avoid FLL and Miami.  Go to the airports that follow the law.

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1 hour ago, Monterey said:

Someone just posted this on another forum.  They got lucky, but were warned.  In this other forum we hear how everyday people are losing anything over 2 boxes per person while flying thru Florida.  For sure mark "under 800" on the kiosk if you get the opportunity to use one.  But if you don't, or are "randomly selected" they will take anything over 2 boxes.  Those of us who go often know to avoid FLL and Miami.  Go to the airports that follow the law.

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Well....I guess next time I’ll fly back to anywhere but FL. 

Ill let y’all know how it goes. 

Thanks

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