Exports & Imports



Another set of regulations – the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) – restricts the exportation of U.S. goods, technology, and software (“U.S. items”) to Cuba.  The EAR applies to Licensed Travelers as well as U.S. companies (that are not traveling to Cuba). 


When a Licensed Traveler carriers U.S. items outside of the United States, this constitutes an export.  If a traveler carriers baggage to Cuba, the traveler is exporting (albeit temporarily) U.S. items to Cuba.  Each Licensed Traveler, therefore, must evaluate the EAR before he packs his bags.


As can be imagined, the EAR generally requires a license before U.S. items may be exported to Cuba.  The EAR requires that a Licensed Traveler obtain a validated license from the U.S. Department of Commerce (“DOC”) before he carries items from the U.S. to Cuba, unless (i) the items are not “subject to the EAR” or (ii) the items fall within a “license exception.”


A "license exception" is an authorization stated in the EAR permitting specific items to be exported without a license.  Certain license exceptions are available for Cuba.  For a license exception to apply, the Licensed Traveler must determine (on his own) that he complies with all stated conditions in the particular exception.

In a nutshell, a Licensed Traveler may export the following items to Cuba, if all stated conditions are satisfied:


No License Required (Example of (i) above):


Informational Materials


License Exception (Examples of (ii) above):




Licensed Travelers may carry accompanied baggage to Cuba.  Accompanied baggage consists of the kinds and quantities of personal items that each traveler will need and use on his trip.  These items include clothing, toiletries, medicine, medical supplies – all for the traveler's personal use.  Travelers must return the baggage – and the items in the bag – to the U.S. when they return home. 


Licensed Travelers may carry and export one gift parcel to qualified individuals or non-governmental organizations in Cuba.  The gift parcels may only contain eligible items (such as food, medicines, clothing, toiletries and other items normally exchanged as gifts).  The total value of the non-food items in each parcel cannot exceed $800.  


Licensed Travelers may carry and export consumer communication devices (CCD) to Cuba.  The EAR provides a list of items that are eligible for exportation under this license exception.  The list includes certain low tech computers, televisions, and cellular telephones. This license exception does not have any value limitation (while GFT does). 


Licensed Travelers may carry and export certain eligible items for the support of the Cuban people.  The items must (i) be intended to improve the living conditions of the Cuban people, (ii) support independent economic activity, (iii) strengthen civil society in Cuba, or (iv) must improve the free flow of information to the Cuban people.  There are restrictions on who may receive these items and what items may be exported for these purposes. 


The list above is not intended to represent a comprehensive discussion of the license exceptions or the conditions in those exceptions.  Licensed Travelers must consult the EAR before they export any U.S. items to Cuba.  Airline Brokers is not responsible or liable if travelers do not comply with the EAR.


As of January 16, 2015, OFAC allows a Licensed Traveler to import Cuban goods under two different general licenses.  Licensed Travelers also may import information and informational materials, because these items are exempt from the prohibitions.  The general licenses and the exemption contain important conditions.  A Licensed Traveler must comply with the conditions, or the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (“CBP”) will seize the goods.


Imports Valued at $400 or Less


Each Licensed Traveler may return to the United States with Cuban-made goods that do not exceed $400 in value, provided that no more than $100 of these goods consist of alcohol and/or tobacco products.  These value limitations apply to all of the Cuban goods a Licensed Traveler may wish to import, except for “informational materials” (identified below).  For example, if a Licensed Traveler purchases a box of cigars for $90 and a bottle of rum for $10 Cuba, he may import these two items – and up to $300 worth of other Cuban items – into the United States.  If, however, the box of cigars costs $100, he may not import any other tobacco products or any alcohol products. 


Even though OFAC does not limit the number of items imported from Cuba, CBP restricts the availability of the duty free exemption.  Under CBP rules, a Licensed Traveler may import alcohol and tobacco products duty free, only if these products do not exceed: 


  • 50 cigars, 300 cigarettes, or 2 kilograms of smoking tobacco; or
  • 1 liter of alcoholic beverages.

In the example above, a Licensed Traveler could import two bottles of rum and one box of cigars, if the total value of these three items did not exceed $100 and if the total value of the other Cuban items did not exceed $300.  However, CBP would impose a duty of 4% on the second bottle of rum.  Only one liter bottle of alcoholic beverage may be imported duty free.


Imports From Independent Cuban Entrepreneurs


OFAC established a second general license that permits a Licensed Traveler to import eligible goods that “independent Cuban entrepreneurs” produce.  The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) has published a list (called the “DOS Section 515.582 List”) clarifying which Cuban-made goods are eligible for importation.  DOS does not limit the value of these items, but does require that the Licensed Traveler obtain documentary evidence of the entrepreneur’s independent status.  For example, if a Cuban national is self-employed, the traveler must obtain a copy of the self-employment license that the Cuban government issued to the Cuban entrepreneur. 


Goods imported under the OFAC general license are subject to U.S. duties.  The duty rate varies depending upon the classification of eligible items on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.  CBP, however, has advised that it will apply the duty free exemption for eligible items that do not exceed $800 in value.  CBP will apply a 4% duty on items that are valued between $801 and $1,800.    


Informational Materials


A Licensed Traveler may import Cuban informational materials into the United States, if they are already created and in existence.  The following items constitute informational materials:


  • Publications (newspapers, magazines, books)
  • Films and microfilms
  • Posters
  • Records, tapes, CDs, and DVDs
  • Photographs
  • Artworks


The term “artworks” includes paintings, drawings and pastels, collages, original engravings, prints and lithographs, and original sculptures.  Ceramics and hand-painted manufactured items are not informational materials. 


There is no limitation on the value of informational materials. 


Our team will be happy to reserve travel to Cuba from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, or Los Angeles.  Weekly flights to Havana, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Holguin & Santiago de Cuba!  For a additional information on flights and prices click here.

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