FAQ About Shopping in Cuba | insightCuba

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Frequently Asked Questions
Shopping

Yes. Americans have no restrictions on what they may purchase in Cuba.  However, there are restrictions on what can be brought back into the U.S. For example, you can purchase a cigar, but it must be enjoyed in Cuba and can't be brought back home to the U.S. 

Due to the U.S. sanctioned embargo, the U.S. government routinely confiscates goods purchased in Cuba, which are of Cuban origin.  The only exception to this regulation is informational materials such as books, films, artwork, posters, photographs and CDs. It is not permissible to bring back purchased goods, such as Cuban cigars, rum and/or coffee.

Please note that clothing and other souvenirs that normally can be purchased when traveling abroad are not typically found to the same extent in Cuba, nor is haggling common practice.

Working hours in Cuba often start around 8am- and end around 5:30pm during the weekdays. Banks are open from 8am-3pm. Museum hours can be very unpredictable, but typically are from 9am-5pm (with 1/2 days on Sundays). If visiting a certain museum is important to you, it would be best to call ahead to confirm it will be opened after your day of scheduled people-to-people activities.

Cuba is not generally considered a shopping destination. Mostly, you’ll encounter state-run shops or hotel shops, where prices are fixed. Such locations sell very basic necessities, along with items like beer, coffee, or rum. On occasion, you will find open-air or craft markets in Cuba. To find out the schedule and location of the markets, ask your Cuban guide or hotel concierge. 

Opinions vary on whether negotiating prices for artwork is acceptable, but keep in mind that Cubans earn a fraction of what most travelers to their country do.

Due to the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba, there are very specific guidelines as to what can and cannot be brought into the U.S. With President Obama's December 17, 2014 announcement to normalize relations with Cuba, Americans are now allowed to bring back up to $400 worth of Cuban goods of any kind, with a maximum of $100 worth of cigar or alcohol purchases. The $400 limitation does not include artwork, music, or informational materials, which are allowed in unlimited quantities..

Due to the U.S. embargo on Cuba, there are very specific guidelines as to what can and cannot be brought into the U.S. With President Obama's December 17, 2014 announcement to normalize relations with Cuba, Americans are now allowed to bring back up to $400 worth of Cuban goods of any kind, with a maximum of $100 worth of cigar or alcohol purchases. The $400 limitation does not include artwork, music, or informational materials, which are allowed in unlimited quantities.

Artwork, Cuban coffee, cigars, music and rum are the most common items guests bring back to the U.S.

Due to the U.S. embargo on Cuba, there are very specific guidelines as to what can and cannot be brought into the U.S. With President Obama's December 17, 2014 announcement to normalize relations with Cuba, Americans are now allowed to bring back up to $400 worth of Cuban goods of any kind, with a maximum of $100 worth of cigar or alcohol purchases. The $400 limitation does not include artwork, music, or informational materials, which are allowed in unlimited quantities.

You can buy “tourist art” on the streets of Havana. These pieces don’t require exportation procedures. However, when purchasing local art from a gallery, remember to have the gallery authenticate the painting or sculpture. You should receive a receipt or export permit to show Cuban customs, provided the artwork was purchased at an official sales outlet. If the gallery can’t provide an export permit or you didn’t receive an official receipt, you can obtain documentation for the art from the Registro Nacional de Bienes Culturales (National Registry of Cultural Goods) and Centro de Partimonio Cultural (Center of Cultural Heritage) in Havana. Permits are also available at regional offices in provincial capitals, when traveling outside of Havana. It generally takes two days to process art licenses, and artwork must be brought to the office directly. If the piece of art is too large to bring into the office, a photo will suffice. Either way, it’s important to plan ahead.

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