Imports from Cuba Now Permitted but High Duty Rates Remain

Excerpt from Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report |  February 26, 2015

While the U.S. is now allowing imports of a wide range of goods from Cuba, importers should be aware that those shipments may come at a high cost. Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg attorney Lenny Feldman explains that Cuba remains one of only two countries (the other being North Korea) still subject to column 2 duty rates in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S.


As a result, while the products set forth below (a positive list developed by Feldman following the State Department’s issuance of a list of goods that are still restricted) may now be imported directly into the U.S. from Cuba provided they are produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, these goods remain subject to high duty rates that may give potential importers pause.

  • chapters 33, 34 and 37 in HTSUS Section VI (products of the chemical or allied industries): oils, perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, waxes, polishes, candles, dental preparations, photographic or cinematographic goods
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section VII: plastic and rubber articles
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section VIII: raw hides and skins, leather, furs, saddlery and harness, travel goods, handbags, articles of animal gut
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section IX: wood, cork, straw and plaiting materials, basketware and wickerwork
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section X: wooden and cellulosic pulp, paper and paperboard, printed books, manuscripts
  • chapters 50 and 53-63 in HTSUS Section XI (textiles and textile articles): vegetable fibers, man-made filaments, felt, twine, rope, carpets, floor coverings, woven fabrics, lace, embroidery, laminated textile fabrics, knitted fabrics, knitted apparel and clothing, woven apparel and clothing, worn clothing, rags
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section XII: footwear, headgear, umbrellas, feathers, artificial flowers
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section XIII: articles of stone, plaster, cement, asbestos and mica; ceramics; glass and glassware
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section XIV: pearls, precious or semiprecious stones, metals, imitation jewelry, stone
  • chapters 82 and 83 of HTSUS Section XV (base metals and articles of base metal): tools, cutlery, spoons/forks, miscellaneous base metal articles
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section XVIII: optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, medical or surgical instruments; clocks and watches; musical instruments
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section XX: miscellaneous manufactured articles (furniture, bedding, mattresses, cushions, lamps, illuminated signs, toys, games)
  • all chapters of HTSUS Section XXI: works of art, collectors’ pieces and antiques

According to the Department of State, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction engaging in imports of the above goods must obtain documentary evidence that demonstrates the entrepreneur’s independent status, such as a copy of a license to be self-employed issued by the Cuban government or, in the case of an entity, evidence that demonstrates that the entrepreneur is a private entity that is not owned or controlled by the Cuban government.

For more information, contact Lenny Feldman at (305) 894-1011.