Cuba Imposes New Restrictions on Importing Personal Items

EspañolBeginning Monday, September 1, the Cuban government will restrict the amount of products that travelers arriving to the island can bring into the country.

Resolution 206, issued on June 30 by the General Customs of Cuba (AGC), established limits on the importation of personal items in an effort to combat the trafficking of certain products brought to the island by land and sea.

The new measure imposes severe restrictions on the importation of electronics, computer equipment, food items, personal hygiene products, clothing, and footwear. In total, there are 381 types of products across 17 categories that will be restricted.

Las nuevas medidas de Raúl Castro despertaron críticas entre los cubanos. (Wikimedia)
New import policy from Raúl Castro sparks criticism in Cuba. (Wikimedia)

“It is a regulation that restricts imports to stimulate purchases in the country … so the country receives income, rather than my income being exported in order to bring in goods from abroad,” said Yahili García, director of the Department of Tariff Policy of the Ministry of Finance and Prices.

The new regulations replace existing restrictions, established in 2011, and represent a significant increase in limits on imports from the previous policy.

From now on, Cubans can only bring 10 kilograms of detergent to the island, instead of 44 kilograms; only 30 soap products, instead of 60; and 10 dairy products, instead of 30. All amounts above the approved limits will be confiscated. Additionally, if an official determines that the product in question is being imported for commercial reasons, based on its “nature, function, or repeated imports,” it will also be confiscated.

AGC Deputy Director Idalmis Rosales explained that the decision was made “based on a study that confirmed a high volume of products were being imported by certain individuals in order to sell and market them, using the limits for noncommercial imports that had been previously established.”

Computers and communication devices are the products most affected by the change in policy. Under the new regulations, Cubans many only import one computer or computer accessory. Certain items, such as fax machines, switchboards, wireless microphones, routers and intercoms, will require authorization from the Ministry of Communications.

The General Customs office also issued a supplementary measure establishing new taxes when personal items carried by passengers exceed an amount of 50.99 Cuban pesos. The policy does not specify whether the amount is measured in pesos or convertible pesos.

Many Cubans have criticized the government’s new policy, arguing it destroys one of their few means of obtaining high quality consumer goods.

Sources: BBC, Cafe Fuerte.

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