Can You Bring Cuban Rum Back to the United States? What You Need to Know - Rum Raiders
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Can You Bring Cuban Rum Back to the United States? What You Need to Know

Can You Bring Cuban Rum Back to the United States? What You Need to Know

A worker checks the production of Havana Club rum at the company’s factory in Havana, Cuba. (Photo: Franklin Reyes/AP Photo)

Cuba is one of the most famous rum producing countries in the world. Rum is considered a core of the culture of the island and was recently given a UNESCO designation. However, in the United States, Cuban rum is rarely seen due to the long time trade embargo placed on this country. Many people, whether they are just rum curious or completely rum obsessed, want to know if they can bring Cuban rum back to the United States. Here is what you need to know about purchasing Cuban rum. 

Throughout the 1920’s Cuba was a refuge for U.S. bartenders and those who still enjoyed their drinks during the U.S. Prohibition. Although, this relationship between the countries drastically changed when President John F. Kennedy imposed the U.S. embargo on Cuban in 1962 in response to the politics of the Cold War. It was at this point when Cuban rum became a forbidden liquid for U.S. citizens. 

Since then, travel and trade have been left to the discretion of whoever is sitting in the oval office at the time. President Carter lifted travel restrictions and then President Reagan re-imposed them. More recently, there were attempts by President Obama to begin loosening restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba, but many of these policies were repealed under President Trump. 

Needless to say, the U.S.-Cuban relationship is a political minefield. All of this aside, if a person visits Cuba, can they bring back the prized and rare Cuban rum? 

The simple answer is no, at least in the eyes of the law. People authorized to travel to Cuba can bring back merchandise to the United States for personal use only, however, as of Sept. 2020 the authorization no longer applies to Cuban-origin alcohol or tobacco according to the Code of Federal Regulations. Therefore, it became illegal to bring back rum. 

One might consider an alternative to this problem is visiting a country that allows trade with Cuba such as Canada and collecting rum from there. Unfortunately, the Sept 2020 law also excluded this potential loophole. Therefore, it is currently illegal to bring Cuban rum with you back to the U.S. even when visiting any other country.

This doesn’t mean people from the U.S. can’t enjoy Cuban rum in Cuba or in other countries that trade with Cuba. It only means that it’s currently illegal to bring rum back to the U.S. People can also visit Cuban-style bars in Miami, New Orleans and many other places that will still give those old-school cocktail vibes. 

Read Next:

UNESCO Declares Cuban Rum Masters’ Knowledge as Cultural Heritage

Try These 5 Prohibition Era Rum Cocktails for a Taste of the Past

The 7 Best Places to Drink Rum in New Orleans

The 5 Best Places to Drink Rum in Miami

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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.