Dmitri Prieto

Cuban customs officer.

The heralded tabloid sized pamphlet “Customs norms that all travelers should know” went on sale a few days ago at Cuban newsstands and post offices.

These tabloids have become the preferred form of communication between the Cuban government and its citizens: they are used to disseminate information on topics ranging from the political guidelines of the Cuban Communist Party to courses offered by the televised University for All, or such contents as the Cuban Constitution and the Transit laws.

The customs tabloid “flew out the door” in a few days. Today many newstands have posted signs: “Out of Customs Tabloids.”

This is a rare phenomenon, since the majority of the tabloids remain available for weeks or months.

Obviously, people went out en masse to buy them, to foresee what they or their family members should do “at the border”, when it’s time to travel.

Today much criticism is heard – at times publicly – of the Customs regulations (and those of its twin brother, immigration services) since these frequently turn out to be very restrictive. In this vein, the tabloid itself informs us on page eight that bringing in “electric water heaters” for non-commercial use, or “electrical resistance coils of any type” is prohibited.

The import of “wireless microphones and their accessories” (among other things) requires a permit from the Ministry of Information and Communication. As far as exports go, there are strict limitations on taking out rolled tobacco or animal and plant specimens.

It should be added that the General Customs Department of the Republic has been characterized by its ever more transparent and visible commitment to confront corruption.

The last page of the “Customs Norms” tabloid contains several suggestions regarding how to avoid being “charged with the crime of bribery” and offers a series of contacts for obtaining further information and clarifications or for making complaints. Several television spots have recently been transmitted on this theme.

This tabloid costs 1 Cuban peso ($0.04 USD).

See the Cuban Customs Website


Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

2 thoughts on “Customs Regulations, Important to Cubans

  • Tell us more! Is there anything about emigrating in this pamphlet?

  • You can´t bring in more then 50 cigars to Europe anyway, not Cuban regulacion european, also max. 1 Liter of Rum. Problem with the coils is there is a high probability all are turned on at 7 o´clock and leading to a breakdown of the grid. Cubas electricity demand peak is around that clock. Other countries solved that with regulations too, so that not all people cook mindless at the same time. Without Chavez Cuba would have to sell its soul to US investors in order to have electricity and than not for all, only those who can afford 15-25 CUC cent/kWh which is the real power price on the island. 1 aircondition wastes easily 1 CUC per day.

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