Cuba extends the unlimited import of medicines and foodstuffs

Cuban luggage

The Cuban Executive decided to extend until June 30, 2023 the temporary tariff benefits agreed by Resolution 309 of July 15, 2021, on the exemption from the payment of taxes on the non-commercial import of food, toiletries and medicines as accompanied baggage.

Published in Official Gazette No. 83, Resolution 298 of 2022 grants an extension of the tariff benefits, on a temporary basis, in accordance with those established in Resolutions 318 and 321 of July 2021 of the Ministry of Finance and Prices.

Resolution 298/2022 specifies that this exemption will be in force until June 30, 2023, due to the fact that the country continues to suffer supply limitations of products such as food, medicines and toiletries.

The text of the regulation explains that these shortages are due to the economic, financial and commercial harassment exerted by the blockade/embargo, as well as the impact of the expenses incurred by the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the regulations authorize, on an exceptional basis, tariff benefits for the importation of food products and personal and household hygiene items for state entities and non-state economic associations.

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The regulations and tariff benefits will apply to those imports – goods, supplies and materials destined for non-state management – that are made during 2023, provided that the goods are shipped at origin until December 31, 2022.

This measure is a great relief for Cuban families, in view of the deep supply crisis the Cuban market is going through, and was long awaited by Cubans inside and outside the island.

The organization Puentes de Amor (Bridges of Love), led by Cuban-American professor Carlos Lazo, made public last November a petition to the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has finally become a reality.

Since the implementation of this regulation, Cubans and non-Cubans visiting or returning to the island have been able to enter greater quantities of food, medicines and toiletries, which has been of great help to the Cuban population, having extended the exemption for this type of imports on three occasions.

The origin of the tariff exemption

cubans' luggage

In July 2021, as a consequence of the social outbreaks that occurred throughout the country, the Cuban government allowed the entry of food, medicines and toiletries without limitations.

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This was considered a temporary solution to calm the continuous demands of the people in the midst of shortages and widespread discontent.

Since then, 66% of visitors to the island have availed themselves of this tariff exemption, which has allowed access to hundreds of tons of food, medicines and basic toiletries, this being the only way to alleviate shortages so far.

According to Cuban Customs, to enjoy this benefit, the products must be separated from items “of another nature”, and the duty-free products must not be mixed with clothing or footwear.

Medicines, food and toiletries, however, may be together, thus entering the country duty free.

It is assumed that in six months’ time the causes that led to the adoption of this regulation will still exist. The extension of this regulation would mean a great benefit for the Cuban family inside and outside the Island.

Official Gazette No. 38 Extraordinary of December 15, 2022.

You can see the contents of the Official Gazette here.

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