The General Customs of the Cuban Republic has amended – as a result of the situation – a large number of customs policies, mainly oriented towards the importation of basic goods. This article is a comprehensive guide to Cuba’s customs regulations and restrictions in 2023.
The economic and financial crisis in Cuba, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to measures in several sectors to mitigate the situation. Significant changes have been adopted by the authorities during 2022 and 2023. The revocation of old rules combined with the adoption of new regulations has resulted in new possibilities and opportunities for the importation of all kinds of goods.
What are the goals of the new regulatory changes?
- Amend import quantities and values (New Table Quantity/Value)
- Changes to postal and courier services
- Recalculation of the price calculation of a Miscellaneous Consignment
The difficult energy situation that the country has experienced in recent years made it possible to allow the importation of power plants of more than 900 VA by means of the Shipment modality.
As a result of the shortage of medicines and food resulting from the crisis in the country, a number of changes have been made to these products to encourage their importation. As a result, the regulation for the importation of foods of animal origin was updated and freed from tariffs.
Resolution No. 320 of the Minister of Transport of the Republic of Cuba establishes the requirement for passengers to submit information in advance by means of the digital form D’VIAJEROS. This online document replaces the Passenger Health Declaration and Customs Declaration.
The traveller must submit the form no later than 48 hours before check-in for the flight to Cuba. Should the passenger fail to submit this form online, he/she can fill it in at the airport during the free 30 minutes of wifi available to each passenger.
How to fill in the D’VIAJEROS form at the Cuban customs office
- Personal Data
- Immigration Data
- Public Health Data
- Customs Data
- Sworn declaration
By filling it in, a QR code is obtained, which must be presented to the customs authorities (digital or printed) once in Cuba. You can also check the form in PDF format and update it to fix any inaccuracies if any.
How does it work for tourists/non-residents?
Non-Cuban residents arriving in the country must declare using the form Declaration of Value or Temporary Operation of a non-commercial nature. The passenger shall declare the durable goods which he is carrying and which are authorised for temporary importation.
By signing this declaration, passengers undertake to take them with them when they leave the country. If they fail to do so, they will be charged with a customs administrative penalty and will have to pay the corresponding fee.
This form will be used when leaving the country, to prove that the declared items are returning with you. You should therefore keep the form in a safe place to ensure that you do not forget or lose any items.
Determination of the Cuban Customs value
Decree Law 22 of 2020 establishes:
- The non-commercial nature of imports by natural persons (cargo, postal parcels, unaccompanied baggage (ENA), or in passengers’ luggage).
- All items to be imported must be declared, without exception.
- The tax payable is paid in Cuban pesos.
Methods for establishing the value of imported goods
- Customs Declaration
- Purchase invoice
- Reference value as determined by Customs
- The value-weight option (for miscellaneous)
The import consists of the 25kg of personal effects, free of charge, and the remaining items which cannot exceed 1000 pesos or 100 kg.
Quantities are taken into account to determine the commercial nature of an article or product, and in case of exceeding those established as non-commercial, seizure of the surplus items is undertaken.
In the last few months, permitted quantities of some items, including laptops, computers and mobile phones, were increased. The reference value of their taxes has also been lowered for some of these effects.
Special tariff for first-time importation for permanent resident passengers
The first importation of the year for permanent residents in the country remains exempted.
What are the tariffs in such cases?
- 0 – 50.99 USD – fee waived
- From 51.00 USD – 500.99 USD at 4% of USD value
- From 501.00 USD -1 000.00 USD at 8 % of the USD value
General tariff for non-resident passengers and permanent residents as from their second importation.
- 0 – 50.99 USD – fee waived
- From 51.00 USD – 500.99 USD at 100% of the USD value
- From 501.00 USD – 1 000.00 USD at 200% of the USD value
For an estimate of the value of your imports, please refer to Annex II of Resolution 175/2022, which sets out a list of reference values for non-commercial imports by any means.
All Customs have channels to classify passengers according to their imports, and in Cuba there is the Green Channel and the Red Channel. The first is for those passengers whose imports do not exceed the cost-free limits. The second is for all those who have to pay duties on their imports or who import regulated goods.
To be classified in the Green Channel:
- Baggage must not exceed 25 kg (personal belongings) and
- the first 50 pesos free of charge.
- Only carry miscellaneous items in your luggage; for then
- baggage must not exceed 30 kg.
This is the amount considered by Customs to be the traveller’s personal effects.
Includes: clothes, shoes, food, toiletries, personal hygiene (reasonable amounts for one person), a mobile phone, a laptop, a camera, a portable digital media player, a portable television set.
Items for baby carrying, entertainment and feeding are also duty free. This includes a chair, a portable cot, a pram and a walker.
Due to their personal nature, these goods are exempt from the payment of customs duties:
- Scientific, technical, art and literature books
- Musical scores, records, tapes, cassettes, film stills and films for educational purposes
- Wheelchairs for persons with disabilities,
- Prostheses when replacing or substituting any organ or part of it
- Equipment, books or materials intended for blind people,
- Medals, decorations and prizes awarded abroad,
- Products that Cuban citizens receive as gifts or prizes for their status as scientists, athletes, artists and others (with their corresponding document of origin).
As regards sports equipment, the following are recognised as personal effects:
- The amount of one set of fishing tackle
- A bike with no engine
- A canoe or kayak measuring less than 5.50 metres in length
- A pair of skis
- Two tennis rackets, and other similar items
- A pair of walkie-talkies
Adults can import as part of their personal effects:
- 400 cigarette units
- 500 grammes of pipe tobacco
- 50 units of cigars
- 2500 cc of alcoholic beverages
For the Red Channel:
- Passengers whose baggage exceeds 30 kg (includes those who are importing for the year).
- Tourists whose luggage exceeds the established weight limit
- Those bringing restricted articles, upon request for permission for their entry
However, there are some considerations to be taken into account. Payments are in national currency (CUP) in both cases. The suitcases on this channel are subject to a physical inspection.
Medicines, groceries and toiletries: temporary exemption from customs duties and limits on quantities and values
Customs duty exemption is extended to the non-commercial import of groceries, toiletries and medicines by passenger transport and as accompanied baggage. These categories are temporarily free of customs duties.
We strongly advise you to bring each of these categories separately from the rest of the items, in order to speed up the weighing of non-tax-relevant items.
Please remember that these are the policies of the Cuban Customs, you must take into account the rules of the airline you will be travelling with when preparing your luggage.
Other duty-free items (always on a non-commercial basis)
- Renewable energy equipment (key parts and components)
- For private and state-owned companies, customs duties are suspended when the goods are imported for the purpose of a value-adding production process and then exported.
Items regulated by Cuban customs
What products are allowed to be imported?
- Canned beef, pork and poultry from countries eligible for Cuba.
- Fresh, frozen, dehydrated or salted meats; edible offal; semi-cooked and/or semi-processed meat products (hamburgers; minced meat; meatballs; formed as meat sticks, nuggets and other breaded products, among others), vacuum-packed of bovine, porcine, ovine and caprine originating in the countries eligible for Cuba.
- Sausages (authorised on a temporary basis) from countries eligible for Cuba.
- Canned seafood products from any geographical area.
- UHT (Ultra High Temperature) fluid milk, condensed and evaporated milk and dairy desserts from any geographical area.
- Milk powder from eligible countries for Cuba.
- Mature pasteurised cheeses from any geographical area.
- Cheeses made from ultra pasteurised milk from countries eligible for Cuba.
- Vegetable concentrates and broths.
So far the following countries are eligible for Cuba: Spain, Portugal, United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.
Product packaging must be properly identified and be of recognised brand names.
The importation of the following is not allowed:
- Fluid milk and unpasteurised milk derivatives
- Fresh, frozen, dehydrated or salted meats; edible offal; semi-cooked and/or semi-processed meat products which are not vacuum-packed.
- Meat of wild animals in any form of presentation.
Certain products and by-products of plant and animal origin may also not be imported:
- The following plants or parts thereof
- Fresh fruit, seeds and vegetables
- Soil or organic material in any form;
- Agricultural and other biological products in general,
- Organisms and micro-organisms harmful to animals and plants
- Biologicals in general
- Leather and handicraft products without industrial processing
- Lobsters, in any form or quantity
Absolute prohibitions by Cuban customs
- Lidocaine, Mepivacaine in bulbs, ampoules or carpules;
- Tetracaine, Procaine in bulbs or ampoules;
- Chlorpromazine ampoule;
- Atropine ampoule;
- Papaverine ampoule;
- Active substance of the plant ‘Yague’, Banisteria laurifolia; and
- Active ingredient of the plant “Campana”, genus Datura.
- Pharmaceutical products containing controlled substances repackaged in pharmacies or drugstores, in the form of magistral preparations, pure active substances, meaning pharmaceutical raw materials, precursors and basic chemicals
- Psychotropic substances in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, as they have no therapeutic properties and their circulation for these purposes is prohibited at the international level.
- Narcotic drugs included in Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, even if their use is permitted in their country of origin or destination.
- Blood products, human vaccines, antisera, strains of micro-organisms, culture media, genetically engineered products and genetically modified organisms, as well as other biological products.
- Medical, dental, laboratory diagnostic and imaging equipment, devices and materials requiring medical intervention.
- Radioisotopes for diagnostic use in vivo, radiopharmaceuticals and radioactive products used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
- Inputs defined as human health expendables
- Any other medical product which may constitute a risk to human health.
Medicines regulated at the Cuban customs
Travelers are allowed to import up to 100 tablets and up to three bottles or tubes of the following medicinal products upon entry or by consignment:
- Amitriptilina (tabletas)
- Atropine (eyedrops and vials)
- Diphenhydramine (tablets)
- Dimenhydrinate (tablets)
- Carbamazepine (tablets)
- Desipramine (tablets)
- Fluphenazine (tablets)
- Homatropine (eye drops and vials)
- Imipramine (tablets)
- Levomepromazine (tablets)
- Lidocaine (cream, jelly or spray, vials or tubes)
- Homatropine Methylbromide (vials)
- Papaverine (tablets)
- Thioridazine (tablets)
- Trifluoperazine (tablets)
Documents required at customs in Cuba
When importing medicines into Cuban customs, included in Annexes I and II of Res. 104/2022 of MINSAP, we advise you to bring only the quantities permitted and to do so with a medical certificate stating that you are using the product:
- Official name, legal address and contact details of the issuing medical institution
- The patient’s general data, including gender, place and date of birth, home address, passport or identification card number, country of residence, etc.
- Official information on the practitioner issuing the certificate, including licence number and telephone numbers with country and city indication
- Trade name of the pharmaceutical preparation, pharmaceutical form and presentation.
- Generic name or international non-proprietary name of the active substance being controlled
- Concentration of the active substance per dosage unit
- Total quantity in units prescribed of the medicinal product, according to presentation in ampoules, tablets, patches, or other similar forms
- Form of administration
- Patient diagnosis
- Daily treatment indicated
- Treatment duration
- Date on which the document was issued
- Validity period, not more than three months after issued
- Signature of the practitioner
- Official stamp of the institution issuing the document.
Can minors import products?
Minors 10 years of age and older can import up to 125 kg, just like an adult. At the time of baggage declaration, minors must be accompanied by the adult travelling with them. Children under 10 years of age may only bring or carry personal belongings in their luggage in accordance with their age, the purpose of their trip and the length of their stay.
How much cash can I bring with me through customs in Cuba?
The importation of freely convertible currency is free in Cuba, in any form. Persons entering the country with cash in excess of US$5,000 or its equivalent in other currencies must declare it to Customs.
Can live animals be brought into Cuba?
Only dogs or cats may be brought into Cuba as pets. They must be vaccinated against rabies and have the Health and Vaccination Certificate that corresponds to the animal. This document is issued by the health authority of the country of origin and avoids placing your pet in the isolation period where animals are examined (quarantine).
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