Currently, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorizes United States residents returning from abroad to be entitled (generally) to a duty-free exemption of US$800.00 on items accompanying them.
For United States residents returning from the Republic of Cuba, that value is US$400.00 and up to US$100.00 worth (retail value in the Republic of Cuba) of tobacco products (up to 100 cigars) and rum.
Expect the Obama Administration before 20 January 2017 to increase the exemption to US$800.00 so as to harmonize with general duty policies.
CBP Public Notice on Process for Imports from Cuba Importing Commercial Goods from Cuba
Commercial imports authorized under § 515.582 of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), Importation of Certain Goods and Services Produced by Independent Cuban Entrepreneurs, must comply with all current U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other U.S. Government agency requirements. For the import of commercial goods, such as for retail sale in the United States, CBP generally requires a customs informal entry for goods valued under $2,500, and a formal entry for goods exceeding $2,500. Under the 2015 Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), Cuba is a Column 2 country, and is therefore subject to specific duty rates.
Importing Goods for Personal Use from Cuba
Imports by authorized travelers of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs are subject to the following:
31 C.F.R. § 515.582 authorizes importations of goods produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, as set forth on the State Department’s Section 515.582 List without a limitation on the value of the goods. However, these goods are still subject to the applicable provisions of the HTSUS. Imports by private individuals authorized under § 515.582 of the CACR are allowed an $800 exemption from customs duties in accordance with the HTSUS, if the goods are for personal use. The first $1,000 above that $800 will be assessed duty at rate of 4%, pursuant to the HTSUS. The $800 exemption and the application of the 4% duty rate for the first $1,000 above the $800 exemption will be multiplied by the number of qualified family members traveling. So, for example, a qualified family of three would be eligible for a $2,400 exemption from duty, and the $3,000 above that would receive a 4% duty rate. Please be aware that CBP may deem goods accompanying passengers in excess of these values as a commercial shipment and treat them according to the commercial procedures in the above paragraph.
Imports by authorized travelers of goods other than those authorized 31 C.F.R. § 515.582 are subject to the following:
For goods other than those authorized by 31 C.F.R. § 515.582, as described above, the CACR imposes specific limitations on the value of goods that may be imported. The value of merchandise purchased or otherwise acquired in Cuba that is imported as accompanied baggage under § 515.560 of the CACR cannot exceed $400 per person, of which no more than $100 of the merchandise may consist of alcohol or tobacco products (or a combination thereof), and provided that the merchandise is imported for personal use only. The importation of Cuban origin information and informational materials is exempt from the prohibitions of the CACR, as described in 31 C.F.R. § 515.206.
Concerning the $100 of alcohol or tobacco products limit, travelers must comply with all applicable laws and regulations. This includes the HTSUS limitations on personal exemptions
and rates of duty extended to nonresidents and returning residents on quantity and value restrictions to alcohol and tobacco products. Imports of alcohol and tobacco quantities over the limits listed below and up to $100 will be assessed the 4% flat rate pursuant to the HTSUS. Alcohol and tobacco over the $100 limitation will be detained or seized, depending on the mitigating circumstances.
HTSUS Duty Free Exemptions for Alcohol and Tobacco:
Not Returning Resident
Articles imported by or for the account of any person arriving in the United States who is not a returning resident thereof:
9804.00.25 Not over 50 cigars, or 200 cigarettes, or 2 kilograms of smoking tobaccoor a proportionate amount of each, and not over 1 liter of alcoholic beverages, when brought in by an adult nonresident for his own consumption.
9804.00.30 Not exceeding $100 in value of articles (not including alcoholic beverages and cigarettes but including not more than 100 cigars) accompanying such person to be disposed of by him as bona fide gifts, if such person has not claimed an exemption under this subheading (9804.00.30) within the 6 months immediately preceding his arrival and he intends to remain in the United States for not less than 72 hours.
9804.00.40 Not exceeding $200 in value of articles (including not more than 4 liters of alcoholic beverages) accompanying such a person who is in transit to a place outside United States customs territory and who will take the articles with him to such place.
Articles imported by or for the account of any person arriving in the United States who is a returning resident, has attained the age of 21, after having remained beyond the United States for a period of not less than 48 hours, for his or her personal or household use, but not imported for the account of any other person nor intended for sale, if declared in accordance with regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury and if such person has not claimed, an exemption under subheadings 9804.00.65, 9804.00.70 and 9804.00.72 within 30 days preceding his arrival, and claims exemption under only one of such items on his arrival:
9804.00.80 Articles (including not over 50 cigars, or 300 cigarettes, or 2 kilograms of smoking tobacco or a proportionate amount of each, and not over 1 liter of alcoholic beverages), reasonable and appropriate, and intended exclusively, for the bona fide personal use of, and (except for articles consumed in use) to be taken out of the United States by, any person arriving in the United States who is leaving a vessel, vehicle or aircraft, engaged in international traffic, on which he or she is employed, with the intention of resuming such employment.