Cuba Launches Controversial Customs Law

Passengers to Cuba. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban Customs begins to enforce today the new highly controversial regulations that further limit what travelers can bring into the country, amid the rejection of the population. The measure is geared to protecting the government/military monopoly on domestic commerce.

Any traveler can enter the island with 25 kilos of personal luggage customs free which can add up to 100 kilos of assorted items, which would pay import duties.

The novelty is in the customs tariffs on products considered “miscellaneous” such as electronics and appliances, in addition to the reduction in the number of items that can be entered.

For example, until now a passenger could enter the island 100 disposable razors, now reduced to 20, the limit of 40 pairs of pants is now down to ten.

One of the most popular products is imported televisions, whose importation fee goes for example from 150 to 250 pesos on a 32-inch flat screen set.

A Cuban customs officer. Photo:

On their first trip abroad Cubans pay customs duties in regular pesos (CUP), while in the following entries they must pay in the hard currency CUC, a convertible currency with international currencies exchanged for 24 CUP.

On the island, most of the products in stores (run by the military or the government) are sold in CUC, while almost all citizens receive their wages in CUP.

The new regulations have been criticized even in the official press, reporting citizen dissatisfaction that the customs changes do not attack the root problems of shortages of many basic consumer products, a lack of a wholesale market to supply the self-employed and the inflated prices in the network of state/military retail stores.

However, Idalmis Rosales, the deputy head of Customs, told the press:  “The measures are to prevent certain persons from using non-commercial importation limits in order to enter high volumes of goods for marketing and profit.”

6 thoughts on “Cuba Launches Controversial Customs Law

  • You still don’t get it obviously. Imagine if that “industry in the US” was the Castro dictatorship. That means they would not have to seek out K Street lobbyists (filter #1) who would not have to contact Congress (filter #2) who would not have pass levies on those foreign products. The US system, with its checks and balances, helps to insure that the best products at the best prices reach the consumer. It may not work perfectly and there is plenty to complain about but it remains head and shoulders above the Castro scheme that allows the Seller (Castros) to create artificial import barriers because the Taxing Authority (Castros) and the seller are one and the same.

  • Here’s how it works Moses. An industry in the US, wishing for less competition finances politicians receptive to their K Street lobbys who pass levies on cheaper foreign products, accusing the foreign producer of dumping and resulting in fatter profits for the corporate shareholders and higher prices for the consumer.

  • Here is the difference Terry Downey. Other governments that impose import duties do so to protect the rights of local sellers that would otherwise suffer from the foreign competition deemed as unfair. These businesses, because of the import duties imposed of foreign-made goods are then expected to compete on a more level playing field for the customer’s money. In Cuba, the government is BOTH the taxing authority AND the seller. The goal is not to level the playing field for competition’s sake but the eliminate the competition altogether.

  • Of course none of the monies collected by the Cuba government through sales at state stores is utilized to actually run the country and maintain benefits for the population. And what makes you think that the Cuban government has a monopoly on limiting the importation, legal or otherwise, of material goods for resale? Every country has importation duties to insure that taxes can be collected on legitimate sales of goods to support government programs. Cuba is no exception.

  • The internal blockade that castro regime implements on Cubans is the real one making Cubans poor, hungry and unhealthy.

  • Constriction of rights and freedom is policy. Encouraging purchases from stores controlled by Gaviota and the state adds to the Castro family regime coffers. So what is there to complain about?

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