Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bringing Cuban Cigars Back To the US

DISCLAIMER FOR US CITIZENS: The information contained in this post is for entertainment purposes only. Any use of this information in violation of any US federal, state or local law is prohibited.

I received this message a few days ago:

From: Jim in Tampa

Subject: great blog sir!

I want to congratulate you on your excellent cigar blog. Particularly useful to me was your recommendations on reliable shops in San Jose to purchase cuban cigars as I plan to visit next month for the first time.

This may be a dumb question, but I'm sure you have other readers who may be curious about this as well;

Is the matter of bringing back cuban cigars from CR to the US as simple as taking the labels off of them? Is it better to bring them on carry on or checked in luggage? Please let me know your opinion on bringing back a few cuban cigars to the US in the safest and most discreet way.

keep up the excellent blogging!


Jim in Tampa


Thank you for your kind words about the blog. I will try to expand the Costa Rica Cigar Hunting information in the future. I have often thought about adding a section specifically dealing with all of the cigar stores and dealers in San Jose- but I do not want to make too many enemies in the city where I am living... Good to hear that you are coming to Costa Rica for a visit, it is a great travel destination.

On the subject of bringing Cuban Cigars back the the Unites States; no- not a dumb question at all. I have not touched on this information before, and, although I have never looked for it before online, I have not read about it online much either.

Indeed, you initial assumption is correct, it can be as simple as just taking off the rings, but there can be a little more to it. I have seen many people bring Cuban Cigars back to the US from Costa Rica, and other locations, and I have some tips to make the most of the process.

First of all, you will need a travel humidor, or an empty cigar box(es). This of course will depend on how many cigars you would like to bring back. However, if you are going to make the investment in trueHabano cigars, I recommend that you take care of them in the proper conditions. This is something that people do not often plan for, and I have heard some horror stories of cigars drying out, wrappers cracking, or worse.

Now that you have the proper conditions to stow your cigars, you need to think about what you will be buying. I stress this part, because depending on where you go you will have a great variety to choose from. For cigars that you plan to travel with, go for the gold- spend more than you normally would and pick up some super-stars (Like aCohiba Siglo IV or Sublime for example). In addition, most locations will let you inspect and smell the cigars before you buy them- do not be shy. Make sure that the cigars smell fresh, and are not overly dry.

After you have purchased the cigars, you will have to remove the rings. Some shops will help you do this, but it would be at your own risk no matter what they say. Depending on your manual dexterity you might want to do this yourself. However you choose to do it if, make sure you make a map so that you know what is what. You might be surprised how similar two different robustos might look.

It is not necessary to throw the rings away. If you take them off with the right amount of care, they can be put back on, but if it is a matter of damaging the rings or the cigar wrapper, you know what to do. Before you leave home take a decent quality envelope with you. By decent quality I mean one that is not easy to see through. You could also use a "tri-folded" piece of paper inside the envelope. While in Costa Rica, you can send the envelope back home for less than a dollar. Any hotel will help you get the appropriate stamps and post your letter. It may take a couple weeks to arrive.

You can put the rings back on using white glueor a glue stick. Use another cigar from your collection to get the proper location set, and be very conservative with the glue. Put a 'dab' in the same spot where the dry glue is and paste the cigar ring to itself.

Traveling into the United States with "un-ringed" cigars from Costa Rica should not be an issue, as several of the local factories sell "un-ringed bundles." Be sure to declare you "Costa Rican Cigars" on your customs declaration form, as you are required to declare all tobacco.

Enjoy your trip to Costa Rica, and be careful when you go cigar hunting.



DISCLAIMER FOR US CITIZENS: The information contained in this post is for entertainment purposes only. Any use of this information in violation of any US federal, state or local law is prohibited.


  1. Keith, thank you for your thoughtful and informative response. My friends in Tampa who will be smoking the cigars with me thank you too.

    cheers sir!


  2. Hahaha. So do you prefer to have a ring on when you smoke a cigar? I usually take it off before smoking as long as the glue accidentally affix the ring with the cigar.

    If a custom officer is a Cuban cigar smoker, I bet he will be suspicious if he smells cigars you carry. Cuban cigars tend to have a very very pleasant bouquet!

  3. If a customs officer is a cuban cigar smoker in the first place, then I'm sure he'd feel a bit hypocritical in apprehending you to begin with

  4. So is it better to store them in checked luggage or in a carry-on bag?

  5. If a customs officer is a cuban cigar smoker he is breaking the law which was ammended in 2004.

    The Code of Federal Regulations 31 C.F.R., Part 515, Section 204 (revised September 30, 2004) which states that unless authorized by the U.S. Secretary of Treasury "no person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States may purchase, transport, import, or otherwise deal in or engage in a transaction with respect to any merchandise outside the United States if such merchandise:
    (1) Is of Cuban origin; or
    (2) Is or has been in or located in or transported from or through Cuba; or
    (3) Is made or derived in whole or part of any article which is the growth, produce, or manufacture of Cuba".

    This basically means that you cannot even purchase a Cuban cigar outside of the U.S. if you are a U.S. citizen. Thank you to all of you hypocritical, old, white haired thieves working in the U.S. Congress who have probably broken more laws than the average U.S. citizen caneven contemplate!

  6. Thanks for all the info, will be traveling soon. Can I use any cigar box and how do you take good care of them?

  7. I have just recieved 2 boxes from 1 monte cristo no 2 25 cigars and 1 upmann major 25 by us mail

  8. Thanks for sharing very useful.