After months of looking foward to this trip, it has finally arrived. I am traveling to cuba on November 21st to participate in Earthwatch's Crocodiles of Cuba. This means that I am an American leagally traveling to Cuba- and the US government is well aware that I will be there. (I am flying to Havana via Miami).
So, would it be very ill advised to even try to bring cigars back with me? I read an OFAC site,stating that the US threatens a heafty fine if caught. But, since I am just a 'little, innocent, 17 yr old girl, bring back some cigars for my daddy' would I still be severely punished? I'm not worried about the cigars being confiscated, I'm just worried about getting in legal trouble. Any words of advice?
please, any info would be appriciated!
You may get away with it, you may not. Since you are going to Cuba for a government sanctioned volunteer project, Customs may take for granted that you also have been informed of the laws regarding the importation of banned products. Will you turn 18 while in Cuba? If so, then you will be of legal age and no longer considered a little innocent girl... It's a tricky situation because - if you hide the cigars in your luggage and they are found, it is obvious you were aware of the regulations and trying to sneak them in. Busted! If you leave them where they can be seen, then there is a very good chance they will be confiscated.
I think it will all really hinge on how busy Customs is the day of your re-entry. If it's slow or the agent's having a bad day... You see where I'm going with that. I don't think you would be fined for bringing in a couple cigars. But, a box or two - may cause you problems. Ultimately, the choice will be yours at the time you come home.
I have purchased Cuban cigars in Panama and Jamaica, but have not tried to return home with them.
Personal opinion would be that it isn't worth the risk.
Firstly, if you haven't, you might want to read the following information: Prohibitions on Cuban Cigars from the Customs and Border Control website.
And, of course, the mere fact that you have posted and asked on this website means that the government can make a case that you are not, in fact, ignorant of the law, if they so wanted.
By the way, the law was changed on August 1, 2004. You used to be able to bring in under $100 worth of cigars. There is now a complete ban. If anyone tells you that you can bring in $100 of cigars, they are quoting an old law.
All that being said, the most likely outcome of getting caught with a single box (or two) of cigars is that they will be taken away and you will be allowed to leave without being fined or charged.
If you do decide to risk importing them, make sure you buy from a reputable dealer (usually the gift shop at a cigar factory is a good place) and not from someone on the street or from a worker in the factory. The ones sold by the street vendors are usually cast offs or inferior quality cigars.
yes they will be taken away from you and smoked by the bad man who took them!!!!!
buy a couple on your last day and if you get caught say that its for your collage of your trip to cuba.then give them to your dad pronto and put them in the humidor!!!!!
I had the same thoughts concerning bringing back coca leaves from Peru. I'm not even sure if it would have been illegal, I just didn't feel like having to find out in the form of a cavity search or potential jail time. I guess what you have to ask yourself; is the risk worth the reward?