Recently Ministry of Cigars got confronted with the wild range of different rules and regulations for cigars while traveling internationally. Most countries in the world have an allowance to bring in cigars for personal consumption. It ranges from no allowance at all, to a no limit as long as the boxes are open and it’s for personal consumption. Some countries measure by numbers, others by weight, some in grams in the metric system, others by pounds in the imperial system.
Now even though there are limits to the duty-free allowance, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring in cigars at all. Just declare them, and after paying tax, you can bring in the cigars anyway. Our advice is to play by the rules. Don’t be a dumbass and risk a fine, or even be arrested and trialed for smuggling. It’s not worth your time, or your reputation.
In a series of articles, we dive into the allowances per country, categorized by continent. Last week we started with Europe, today we dove into the regulations of the Asian continent.
Asia has some of the toughest countries in the world, with an allowance of zero, and one of the most lenient countries in the world allowing 400 cigars duty-free. And then there’s the vague ‘reasonable quantities’, which is a matter of objective so our advice is, when traveling to those countries, bring a low number of cigars.
And then there is the difference between cigars and cigarillos. Some countries specify that on their duty-free regulations. Small cigars that weigh less than 3 grams each are considered cigarillos.
Now note: all these numbers are the allowance when you bring in cigars personally. The rules and regulations on postal shipments are different.
Afghanistan is one of the counties that has not set a strict number or weight on the duty-free allowance of tobacco. The duty free regulations on cigars says “reasonable quantities” which means it’s up the the custom agent to see if the number of cigars you carry is a reasonable quantity. Be advised, cigars aren’t common in Afghanistan, so what seems to be a reasonable quantity to you, might not be for the customs officer.
Bahrein allows visitors to bring in 50 cigars or 250 grams in cigarillos to be brought in without duty paid
Bangladesh allows visitors to bring in 50 cigars or 250 grams in cigarillos to be brought in without duty paid
Bhutan is strict on tobacco, tobacco is not sold anywhere in Bhutan. Yet as a visitor, you are allowed to bring in 30 cigars.
Brunei has a zero tolerance. No allowance of cigars. You can bring some in for personal consumption yet they have to be declared and tax has to be paid.
Cambodia allows visitors to bring in 100 cigars or 400 grams in cigarillos to be brought in without duty paid
China (People’s republic)
China allows visitors to bring in 100 cigars or 500 grams in cigarillos to be brought in without duty paid
Even though Hong Kong is part of China, the duty free allowance is completely different. Hongkong only allows one cigar to be brought in duty free, or 25 grams of tobacco. If you bring in 25 grams of cigars, you will get a pass.
The duty free allowance of cigars in India is set to 25 cigars. Or you can bring in 125 grams of cigarillos.
Indonesia allows 25 cigars or 100 grams of cigarillos to be brought in duty free.
Just like Afghanistan, Iran duty free allowance for cigars is “reasonable quantities”. So we give the same advice. Cigars aren’t common in Iran, so what seems to be a reasonable quantity to you, might not be for the customs officer.
Iraq has a small allowance, only 25 cigarillos or 10 cigars can be imported duty free.
Israel allows visitors to bring in 250 grams of tobacco duty unpaid.
When you go to Japan you can bring in 100 cigars or 500 grams of cigarillos duty free for personal consumption.
The number of cigars or weight doesn’t matter in Jordan. It’s all about the face value of the cigars. Cigarillos up to 20 JOD (approx 25 euro at the time the article was written) and 70 JOD (approx 85 euro) are allowed in duty free.
Kuwait has an allowance of 900 grams of tobacco to be brought in duty unpaid.
Kyrgyzstan has an allowance of 50 cigars or 250 grams of cigarillos.
Laos has an allowance of 50 cigars or 250 grams of cigarillos.
Lebanon has an allowance of 50 cigars or 100 cigarillos.
Just like Hong Kong, Macau is part of China yet does not have the lenient duty free allowance of the mainland. 1 cigar or 25 grams of tobacco is allowed duty free.
Malaysia has a duty free allowance of 225 grams of cigars or cigarillos.
25 cigars or 250 grams of cigarillos can be brought in without duty paid in the Maldives.
Mongolia has a duty free allowance of 50 cigars or 250 grams of cigarillos.
Myanmar has a duty free allowance of 50 cigars or 250 grams of cigarillos.
Nepal has a duty free allowance of 50 cigars or 20 grams of cigarillos.
We could not find any information on the duty free allowance in North Korea. We reached out to the embassy of North Korea in London but have not had an answer yet.
Oman has an allowance of 50 cigars to be brought in duty unpaid.
Pakistan allows visitors to bring in 50 cigars or 500 grams of cigarillos to be brought in duty free.
We could not find any information on the duty free allowance in Palestine. We send inquiries to the Palestine Australian embassy and are yet waiting on an answer. To get to the Palestine territory, you have to travel through Israel, so take the Israeli duty free allowance in consideration when traveling to Palestine.
The Philippines allow 50 cigars duty free.
No information to be found online. We reached out to the Qatar Customs Agency and are yet awaiting a reaction.
Saudi Arabia allows 100 cigars or 500 grams of tobacco to be brought in before duties have to be paid.
The beautiful city of Singapore has a zero tolerance when it comes to tobacco to be brought in duty free. No cigarettes, no cigars, no pipe tobacco is allowed in duty free. Cigars aren’t a prohibited product, you can bring in up to 400 grams of cigars as long as you declare them and pay the tax.
The duty free allowance for cigars in South Korea is 50 cigars, or 250 grams of cigarillos.
The duty free allowance for cigars in Sri Lanka is zero.
Syria allows 25 cigars or 50 cigarillos to be brought in duty free.
Taiwan has a duty free allowance of 25 cigars.
Tajikistan has a ‘2 cartons’ rule in their duty free regulations, without specifying if that’s cigars, cigarillos or cigarettes. So be wise, don’t carry two 100 count boxes with you, stick to one box maximum.
Thailand allows you to bring in 250 grams of cigars duty free.
Timor has an allowance of 75 cigars or 100 cigarillos.
Turkey has an allowance of 50 cigars or 100 cigarillos
The rules in Turkmenistan aren’t very clear. The law states ‘two packs of tobacco” so we go with the same advice as Tajikistan and don’t bring 100 count boxes, be smart what you bring.
United Arab Emirates
The allowance for the United Arab Emirates is high, 400 cigars with a maximum value of 4000 AED (approx 945 euro).
Visitors are allowed to bring in up to a 1000 grams of tobacco duty free.
Vietnam duty free allowance is 20 cigars or 250 grams of cigarillos.
The duty free allowance for Yemen is 60 cigars or 454 grams of cigarillos.
Next week we look at the duty free allowance in Africa.