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Individual Cigars
Packaging Types
Date Codes
Factory Codes
Tax Stamps
Box Stamps
Union and Warranty Seals
Distributor Logos, Health, and Duty Paid Stickers
Internal Notices
Habanos Packing Codes

Individual Cigars

Individual cigars can be finished in various ways:

Plain Cigars

Cigar bands (Anillas) were introduced in Cuba circa 1870s.  Since mid-2006, all Cuban cigars have bands applied. Prior to 2006, cigars in slide lid boxes were sometimes offered unbanded.

Limited and special releases usually have a second band. Commemorative issues may have a special band or a second band. On rare occasions, the bands may be numbered. From 2016 onwards, an number of special release and high-end regular production cigars have worn foot bands in addition to their regular band.

Starting around 2010, some newer band designs have introduced security features including holograms, microprinting, serial numbers, and features that fluoresce when exposed to ultra-violet light.

Cellophane Sleeved

Cellophane sleeving of cigars commenced in Cuba in the mid-1930s and until c1992, most Cuban cigars (even Cohibas) were available in cellophane sleeves.

Since c1992 the use of cellophane sleeving has been restricted to machine-made cigars, which were discontinued by Habanos c2002/2003. Cellophane is now used only for ICT machine-made Puritos.

Cedar Wrapped

Cigars are sometimes wrapped in a cedar sheet. This has the benefit of protecting the cigar from damage due to handling, regulating the humidity within and around the cigar, and adding a cedar aroma to the cigar while excluding other external aromas.

Given that only a small number of cigars are deemed worthy of this treatment, it seems that its main purpose may be as a marketing differentiator.

Tissue Wrapped

Only one brand is currently available tissue-paper wrapped, the Fonseca.

The wrapping adds nothing and provides negligible protection.

The tissue may be left on the cigars in a humidor, but must be removed before smoking.

Aluminium Foil Wrapped

The use of true aluminium foil (for wrapping cigars) started in the 1920s but because of the high cost to hand-wrap the cigars, its general use was replaced with cellophane sleeves (except for premium or special cigars) by the 1940s.

Current aluminium foil is actually a naturally silver coloured aluminium paper foil.

It can be either plain or have an embossed pattern (stars etc.) and can fully or partially wrap the cigar.

Gold Foil Wrapped

As above but a gold coloured aluminium paper foil is used.

The foil is either plain or patterned.

Cedar Wrapped & Cellophane Sleeved

Cellophane sleeved cedar wrapped cigars generally indicate machine-made cigars.

This form of packaging has been discontinued.

Aluminium Tubes

Aluminium tubes first appeared in December 1933, initially with the H. Upmann brand. They were an immediate success, however disappeared in the late 1930s due to wartime aluminium shortages. By the 1950s they were common again and are used by many brands today.

Some cigar releases are available exclusively in aluminium tubes, while other releases are available either with or without tubes.

Tubes help to preserve cigars from physical damage and short-term drying out. Habanos S.A. recommends removing cigars from their tubes if storing in a humidor, although Min Ron Nee advocates leaving cigars in their tubes for improved (but slower) aging. Tubes have a thin cedar-sheet lining.

Since 2006, Habanos SA has been extending the available tube range in their major brands, using both recoloured standard tubes and a new premium style tube. Some of the minor brands are having the tubes withdrawn.

The standard tubes have a bottom screw-cap. The older style tubes generally have black text printed on the natural silver background while the newer style tubes have the same screw-cap construction but with more colourful tube colour and printing.

The new premium tubes have a twin tube construction, with a top, friction pull-apart section. They are usually printed in multiple colours.

Humidified Tubes

In 2008 a super-premium Humidifier Tube was released for the Travel Retail Selection pack.

It incorporates a rechargeable humidifier sponge within a double aluminium chamber, a clear plastic upper section and a cap that incorporates a reusable cigar punch.

Glass Tubes

Glass tubes were introduced circa mid-1940s and became common in the 1950/1960s.  Their use was discontinued by the mid-1970s.

Glass tubes have a plastic push-in cap.

Plastic Tubes

Plastic Tubes can be either clear or opaque, with push-top caps.

Their current use is limited to ICT machine-made cigars.

Cedar Tubes

The cedar timber tube was a special release tube once used by the discontinued Davidoff brand, and in a small number of pre-Revolution cigars.

Cardboard Boxes

These individual cardboard boxes are packed in Cardboard Packs of 3 or 5.

Small Slide Lid Boxes

A small solid or cedar plywood timber slide lid box, usually containing a single round cigar.  Also known as a "coffin box". In some instances, these are varnished.

These boxes are packed in a 3 or 5 pack dress or slide lid box. Usually reserved for expensive or large cigars.


Culebras ("snakes" in Spanish) refers to three cigars twisted together in a tight intertwined spiral. Culebras is also the Cuban factory name for specific sized vitola.

Only three brands have produced Culebras since 1960. These were machine-made cigars. Early packaging was a dress box of 25 containing eight spirals of three plus a single straight cigar, to make up the total of 25 cigars.

The modern Culebras are handmade and each spiral bundle is packed in a small slide lid box.

Cellophane Bundles

Cigars packed in cellophane wrapped bundles are now restricted to cheaper short-filler cigars.

Bundles normally consist of 25 cigars.

Aluminium Foil Bundles

Aluminium paper foil bundles tend to be used for very strong and/or oily cigars.  Believed to slow down the fermenting process and retain flavours longer.

Currently only in use for a few cigar releases.

Packaging Types

Cigars are or were packaged for sale in the following various forms:

Dress Boxes

The Dress Box is the most common cigar box and normally contains 25 box pressed cigars.

Also known as a standard box, current box, labelled box or semi-plain box. The box is "dressed" with specific paper labels and trimmings. Semi-plain more correctly applies to pre-WW2 boxes, where the dressings did not cover the whole box.

Until the mid-1970s, the boxes were constructed from solid cedar, after which time it changed to cedar veneered plywood. The paper dressing forms the hinge of the box and the lid is fixed with a nail.

Some boxes have a brooch clasp in lieu of a nail. Currently used for some production cigars (mainly tubes) and some special release boxes. These boxes have thicker cedar plywood lids.

Cigars are usually in layers, but sometimes (albeit rarely) may be in foil bundles. Boxes of 25 are normally in 2 layers (12 bottom, 13 top), boxes of 20 are normally in 2 layers of 10, and boxes of 10 are normally in a single layer. Normally, tubed cigars are in 3 layers.

Slide Lid Boxes

This is a timber box normally containing 25 or 50 round cigars, packed in a bundle and tied with a silk ribbon. Around 1997, the timber changed from solid cedar to cedar veneered plywood. These boxes can be varnished or unvarnished.

Commonly referred to as a "Cab" (short for cabinet box).

Boxes of 25 and 50 normally contain bundled cigars tied with a silk ribbon. Some special releases and discontinued production have cigars in layers.

Boxes of 10 in a single layer and boxes of 20 in a double layer are referred to as Flat Slide Lid Boxes.

Semi Boîte Nature Boxes

A timber box containing 10, 24, 25, or 50 round cigars in layers. This box has a flat hinged lid without a sealing-collar, and is fitted with metal hinges and a brooch clasp. Around 1997, the timber changed from solid cedar to cedar veneered plywood. These boxes can be varnished or unvarnished. When varnished, the base of the box is usually left plain.

Boxes of 10 are normally in a single layer whilst boxes of 25 are normally in a double layer. The Trinidad brand uses boxes of 12 and 24, packed in layers of 6, with a silk ribbon to assist cigar removal.

Boîte Nature Boxes

A cedar timber box with formed metal hinged lid with projecting sealing collars that is fitted with a brooch clasp. These boxes are normally varnished and used for higher quality cigars. Some special versions of this box use an opaque black lacquered gloss finish.

Boxes of 10 or 15 are normally in a single layer and boxes of 25 are normally in a double layer.


Essentially a higher quality version of the Boîte Nature box, these boxes have cedar sealing collars, cast metal hinges and a brooch clasp or slide lock. They may be varnished or finished with a high gloss lacquer.

The cigars are packed in layers.

898 Boxes

A cedar timber box with the longer sides being curved, normally containing 25 round cigars, arranged in 3 layers. They are fitted with metal hinges and a brooch clasp.

The original boxes of 25 cigars have layers of 8, 9 and 8 cigars; smaller boxes of 10 cigars have layers of 3, 4 and 3 cigars. This configuration allows for an attractive layered presentation, but avoids box-pressing. There are also some modern boxes with a single layer of cigars (usually 10) that have curved sides in the style of an 8-9-8 box. These boxes are considered "special cabinets" by Habanos SA.


Special humidors can take many forms and are usually issued for a special occasion. They are normally limited in quantity, carry a premium price surcharge and may contain vitolas not in normal production.

The cigars may have a special or an extra band. The humidors are usually numbered and (rarely) the bands may be numbered.

There were also humidors of all forms, e.g. tree branches, etc.

Special Boxes

A custom-made, cedar timber box for a particular (usually minor) release, typically containing a selection of cigars taken from several brands.


A cellophane wrapped bundle of cigars, with no other outer packaging.

Bundles (Mazos) normally contain 25 round cigars, with cigar bands since mid-2006.

Either wrapped in cellophane or silver paper foil. May be presented in a cardboard outer box, a tin can, or a standard dress box. Bundles sometimes sit on a square of cardboard, where the factory and date codes are stamped.

Cardboard Boxes

A "soft-pack" cardboard box, printed to look like a dress box, containing either a cellophane or aluminium paper foil wrapped bundle of cigars.

Rigid Cardboard Boxes

A rigid cardboard box, printed to look like a dress box, containing cigars in layer/s.  Has a paper hinge, but no nail or clasp. Currently used by ICT for machine made cigars.

Cardboard Packs

Small cardboard pocket-sized packs (petacas), with either a slide or flip-top. The packs may be wrapped in cellophane and usually contain three or five plain or cellophane cigars. These packs are usual in lots of five, for a total of fifteen or twenty-five cigars, and packed in a display box which can be folded for retail display. Some packs come in a box similar to a dress box containing ten packs for a total of fifty cigars.

Cardboard Packs existed pre-Revolution but were phased out in the 1970s, and then reintroduced in the early 2000s. At the end of 2006, some packs were phased out.

Currently used for small packs of premium cigars (including Cohiba) for affordability, but also for non-premium cigars for cheapness.

Packs for the range of small machine-made cigars (cigars less the 3 grams) are marked "Habanos S.A.", " HECHO EN CUBA ", and "Producido por Internacional Cubana de Tabacos bajo licencia de Habanos, S.A.". They have the small version of the Cuban warranty seal on the pack.

Ceramic Jars

Ceramic Jars, first produced in the 1920s, were common in the 1950s and 1960s, but were phased out in the 1980s. Their use was reintroduced in 1996.

Ceramic Jars have a push-on lid. They normally contain 25 cigars and occasionally 50 cigars.

Jars were produced by the following companies:
Talavera - used by Partagás from the 1920s.
Savilla - used by Partagás and Ramon Allones until the mid-1970s.
Bidasoa - used for the 1996 Cohiba 30 Aniversario and the 1999 Millennium releases.
Byron - used for Habanos SA jar releases since 2009.
Arzberg - used for the German Distributor 5th Avenue's Regional Edition jars.

Glass Jars

Glass jars were introduced c1910s, were common in the 1950s/60s, but were phased out by the mid-1970s. They were reintroduced in 2009.

The jars are clear glass with a clip-on lid.  Circa 1970 the lids changed from three clips to two clips.

Plastic Cans

Plastic Cans containing cellophane sleeved cigars were available in the 1970s.

Metal Tins

Metal Tins are either circular or square with push-on lids, with plain or cellophane cigars packed upright or laid flat.

This packaging was discontinued in the mid-1960s but reintroduced in 2013 for the new Vegueros packaging.

Aluminium Packs

Aluminium flat pocket-sized pack or case, either a hinged or slide unit, usually containing 5 cigars.

This style of packaging was discontinued in the mid-1980s. There are references to packs of 50 and 100 in some old catalogues: these likely refer to boxes containing 10 or 20 packs of 5.

Metal Packs

A metal, flat, pocket-sized pack or case, usually hinged and typically containing 5 cigars.

Travel Humidors

The first Habanos Travel Humidor was released in 2006 with the introduction of the Duty Free and Travel Retail series.

Releases have included small leather, timber, and plastic humidors. They usually contain ten regular production cigars.

Date Codes

Cuban cigar boxes produced since 1985 contain a coded date stamp. Prior to 1985, there was no official date identification on boxes (some dealers dated the boxes themselves, usually handwritten in pencil).

These codes are ink stamped onto the bottom of the timber box or the cardboard outer packing, sometimes both.  The dates (and the factory codes) are applied before leaving the factory, either for warehousing or for immediate export.

There have been three date systems used since 1985:

Original Date System - 1985 to 1998

This is the so called "NIVELACUSO" code.  Each of the 10 letters was given a number from 0 to 9 (starting at 1) as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

The code for each month is assigned to the number of the month, represented as 1 to 12 (1 or 2 digits). The year code is the last two digits of the year (in short year format, where 1985 is expressed as 85). The full date code is either 3 or 4 digits, with the month first and the year second (Myy or MMyy) as follows:

Month Month Number Month Code Year Year Code
January 1 N or ON 1985 UL
February 2 I or OI 1986 UA
March 3 V or OV 1987 UC
April 4 E or OE 1988 UU
May 5 L or OL 1989 US
June 6 A or OA 1990 SO
July 7 C or OC 1991 SN
August 8 U or OU 1992 SI
September 9 S or OS 1993 SV
October 10 NO 1994 SE
November 11 NN 1995 SL
December 12 NI 1996 SA
      1997 SC
      1998 SU


January 1985 is: NUL
December 1998 is: NISU

Transition Date System- 1999

This is the so called "CODIGUNETA" code.  Each of the 10 letters was given a number from 0 to 9 as follows:

9 8 7 6 5 0 1 2 3 4

However, while this system was intended to be a replacement for the original date system, it became only a transitional system. To further complicate this period, some factories (about half) only used this system from January 1999 to May 1999 and then used a fixed code system for the remaining seven months. This gives the following date codes for 1999:

Month / Year CODIGUNETA Code Alternate Code
January 1999 CCUN --
February 1999 CCUE --
March 1999 CCUT --
April 1999 CCUA --
May 1999 CCUG EPOO
June 1999 CCUI ESOO
July 1999 CCUD EUOO
August 1999 CCUO EAOO
September 1999 CCUC EOOO
October 1999 CCNU LEOO
November 1999 CCNN LLOO
December 1999 CCNE LROO

January 1999 is: CCUN
December 1999 is: CCNE or LROO depending on the factory of origin.

Current Date System - 2000 on

This is the current date system. Each month is given an alpha code based on the first three letters of the Spanish spelling of the month. The year is indicated by the last two digits of the year (in short year format, where 2006 is expressed as 06). The full date code is 5 digits with the month first & the year second (MMMyy) as follows.

Month Month (Spanish) Month Code Year Year Code
January Enero ENE 2000 00
February Febrero FEB 2001 01
March Marzo MAR 2002 02
April Abril ABR 2003 03
May Mayo MAY 2004 04
June Junio JUN 2005 05
July Julio JUL 2006 06
August Agosto AGO ....and so on
September Septiembre SEP
October Octubre OCT
November Noviembre NOV
December Diciembre DIC

January 2000 is: ENE00
December 2005 is: DIC05

Factory Codes

Cuban Cigar Boxes produced since 1985 contain a coded factory of origin stamp. Prior to 1985, there was no factory identification on boxes.

These codes are ink stamped onto the bottom of the timber box or the cardboard outer packing, sometimes both. The imprinted factory code and the date are applied before leaving the factory, either for warehousing or for immediate export.

These codes are used for quality control purposes as in different years, several factories may make a particular brand or vitola.

The codes keep changing to deter buyers from demanding or rejecting a particular factory as it moves in or out of favour, since this causes stock problems for Habanos and their distributors.

Factory codes normally comprise three capital letters, although some two and four letter codes exist. Up until about 2001, they were sometimes enclosed with a rectangle.

There have been four code systems used since 1985, coinciding with the box date code changes, with the fourth (and still unbreakable) code introduced in 2003.

First System - 1985 to 1998

The first series of factory codes involved two, three, and four capital letters, was very simple and often obvious (e.g. BM for the Romeo y Julieta Briones Montoto factory, FPG for the Partagás Francisco Perez German factory, and CFGS for the Quintero Cienfuegos 1 factory).

In several provinces, all the factories use a common code (e.g. SS for the ten factories in the Sancti Spiritus province).

Second System - 1998 to 1999

The second series of factory codes involved three capital letters, was less obvious and the factories were all given separate codes.

As in the above examples, BM became EDC, FPG became EAT, CFGS became OTC and the 10 SS province factories were given separate codes.

Third System - 2000 to 2003

The third series of factory codes involved three and four capital letters, changed the main codes again and introduced another system for the provinces; where each province shared a group of codes.

The failure of this system lead to the current system.

Factory Codes
Factory NameProvince1985-19981998-19992000-2003
Arroyo BlancoSancti-SpíritusSSCEGVCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU
Artemisa ILa Habana (Province)TLPTENCAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE
Briones Montoto - Romeo y JulietaHavana CityBMEDCPEL
CabaiguánSancti-SpíritusSSCOTVCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU
CamajuaníVilla ClaraVCDDEURL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC
CandelariaPinar del RioFD/PRGDILRL, SLA
Carlos Baliño - El Rey del MundoHavana CityCBEGDLOC
Cienfuegos ICienfuegosCFGSOTCEOP, LAC, SEL, PUV
Cienfuegos IICienfuegosCFGSOAIEOP, LAC, SEL, PUV
Consolación del SurPinar del RioFD/PRGAOLRL, SLA
CumanayaguaCienfuegosCFGSOETEOP, LAC, SEL, PUV
El LaguitoHavana CityELEUNCLE
EsperanzaVilla ClaraVCDITURL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC
Francisco Pérez Germán - PartagásHavana CityFPGEATOSU
Héroes de MoncadaHavana CityHMENIRPO
JatibonicoSancti-SpíritusSSCTOVCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU
José Martí - H. UpmannHavana CityJMECAECA
Juan Cano Sainz - Por LarrañagaHavana CityFL/PL/POEEO
ManicaraguaVilla ClaraVCDECURL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC
Miguel Fernández Roig - La CoronaHavana CityFREOGEOG, EAR
PilotoPinar del RioFD/PRGCNLRL, SLA
Pinar del RíoPinar del RioFD/PRGNULRL, SLA
Quemado de GüinesVilla ClaraVCDAIURL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC
QuivicánLa Habana (Province)TLPTIOCAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE
RanchueloVilla ClaraVCDODURL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC
San Antonio de las VegasLa Habana (Province)TLPTGTCAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE
San Antonio ILa Habana (Province)TLPTCICAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE
San Antonio IILa Habana (Province)TLPTNGCAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE
San Juan (Rio Seco)Pinar del RioFD/PRGOCLRL, SLA
San Nicolás de BariLa Habana (Province)TLPTUDCAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE
Sancti-SpíritusSancti-SpíritusSSCIDVCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU
Santa Clara IVilla ClaraVCDTAURL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC
Santa Cruz del NorteLa Habana (Province)TLPTTACAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE
Santiago de CubaSantiago de Cuba-AGEOLA
Santo DomingoVilla ClaraVCDNCURL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC
TaguascoSancti-SpíritusSSCDUVCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU
TrinidadSancti-SpíritusSSCACVCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU
Zaza del MedioSancti-SpíritusSSCCAVCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU

Current System - 2003 on

With this system of factory codes, all factories have a unique three capital letter code that can be changed monthly and yearly. With this system there is a substantial number of unique codes available, which means there need not be a duplicate code for many years.

Consequently, identifying and tracking them is virtually impossible. Only those with access to the code generator program would know codes in advance.

Occasionally a code may be reported but, even if correct, it will be of limited use as it may be valid only for a short period of time.

Given the much-improved quality control from 2005/2006 onward, the difference between factory output is reduced, making it less important to "chase factories". In addition, the rationalisation, improvement and replacement of factories means that individual brands are now more likely to be made in a single factory, rather than in multiple factories.

More information about factories

Tax Stamps

Between 1939 and 1976, tax stamps were applied to cigars sold within Cuba by Non-State businesses.

Private enterprises who bought cigars from the State Monopoly to sell within Cuba were required to pay tax in advance by buying these tax stamps from the Cuban Government. To prevent tax evasion, each cigar being sold had to display a tax band underneath the cigar band.

The reason for this tax was attributed to a loan of 35,000,000 Cuban Pesos which Cuba borrowed from the US in 1939 to help Cuba out its financial difficulty.

The text on the band "Impuesto del Emprestitito $35,000,000 1939" refers to that 1939 US loan. At the time, the Cuban Peso was pegged to the US$, so it was equal to the same amount in US Dollars. The company name and address is overprinted on the stamp.

The use of these tax stamps ceased in 1976 when Cuba officially declared default on this loan.

Not many Cuban people had the privilege of selling cigars within Cuba outside the State business, so these stamps are extremely rare.

The following stamp is from a Partagás Eminentes Aluminium pack of five cigars. The cigars were handmade and non-cellophane sleeved, unlike the standard production cigar which was machine-made and had a cellophane sleeve.


Various other countries have added their own tax stamps to Cuban cigars sold in their market at different points in history. Sometimes these take the form of a seal that is placed on the box (for example in Spain, Germany, and Estonia), and sometimes the cigars are individually banded with a tax band (Belgium).

Box Stamps

In addition to the box date codes and factory codes, Cuban cigar boxes have other box stamps. These are hot-ink impact stamped onto the box. Some indentation should be evident, although the depth of this can vary.

Producer's Name

box stamps
Between 1985 and 1994, Cubatobaco was the authority responsible for the production and marketing of Cuban cigars. Boxes were stamped with their name and stylised tobacco leaf logo. This leaf symbol was later incorporated into the Habanos box sticker (see below).
box stamps
From 1994 to present, "Habanos S.A." is responsible for marketing Cuban cigars worldwide, and their logo is now stamped on the bottom of boxes.

Country of Manufacture Stamp

Before February 1962, the fabrication of cigar boxes was not centralised, with each factory producing their own boxes. The following stamps appeared on all boxes over the years and (in conjunction with other details) can be used to date boxes. All dates are original research courtesy of Min Ron Nee.

There were two sizes of Hecho en Cuba stamps; a large and a small. 

The small stamps were used mainly on single stick Slide Lid Boxes (coffins). They were also occasionally used on very small boxes (smaller than the Montecristo No.5 for example).  They were also used on all boxes between 1978 and 1980.

Early Pre-Revolution

Early pre-Revolution boxes were stamped: "MADE IN HAVANA-CUBA" in English capitals. The text in very early boxes was not enclosed.

MADE IN HAVANA-CUBA Pre-1962 box stamp

Pre-February 1962

The "MADE IN HAVANA-CUBA" text was enclosed on a double oval.  The stamp was about 67mm long.

Feb 1962 HECHO EN CUBA Stamp

Feb 1962 to late 1962/early 1963

In the early 1960s, the inscription was changed to "HECHO EN CUBA" (Spanish for "Made in Cuba") and was enclosed in a double oval. The stamp was about 67mm long. It is speculated that the thin inner ring caused the stamp to wear out quickly, hence then short lifespan of this design.

Late 1962 HECHO EN CUBA stamp

Late 1962/early 1963 to late 1967/early 1968

Similar to above but a single thick line oval.

Late 1967/early 1968 to late 1972

Almost identical to the above, except marginally shorter by 1mm. The bar of the E in HECHO is longer than the arms, and almost touches the C. This is present when the stamp first appears, and cannot be attributed to wear. Both new (above) and worn (below) versions of the stamp are pictured.

Late 1972 to mid 1979

Very similar to above, but now about 68mm long. This stamp showed extensive wear due to heavy use, with the hole in the A of Cuba becoming smaller and eventually black dots appearing in the C and O of Hecho. It is easy to distinguish this stamp from the previous one by the use of the post-1972 warranty seal.

Mid 1979 until sometime in 1980

During this period, only the small stamp was used for all box types. The small stamp was about 58mm long, some 10mm shorter than the large "Hecho en Cuba" stamp. Very low production during this period due to the failure of the 1979 harvest makes this stamp very rare.

Sometime in 1980 to late 1982

Reintroduction of the large stamp, with a new design using less crowded and thinner lettering in Letraset font. Unlike other stamps, which showed considerable wear over time, this stamp remains clear for the entirety of its use. It is speculated that a stronger metal was used for the stamps (hence the long wait using the "coffin stamp" while this was developed). It is likely that the new metal did not last as long as hoped, with metal bending suspected for its early demise.

Late 1982 to April 1985

Letters and outer ring now much thinner. Letraset font.

April 1985 to 1994
This is the new stamp released in conjunction with the Cubatabaco Leaf logo stamp and the introduction of stamped factory codes.  The Cubatabaco Leaf logo stamp was replaced by the new Habanos S.A. logo in 1994.

Handmade Cigars

Since 1989, boxes of premium handmade long filler (Tripa Larga) cigars have the inscription Totalmente a mano, meaning "totally by hand".

See also the machine-bunched hand finishing cigar note below.

Short Filler Cigars

Since circa 2002, boxes of handmade short filler (Tripa Corta) cigars are identified by TC being ink printed below the Totalmente a mano inscription.

Boxes of short filler cigars have been found without this stamp (either old box stock or manufacturing error).

Machine-bunched Hand-finished Cigars

The practice of hand finishing machine-bunched cigars was reduced in the 1990s and fully discontinued by c2002.

Machine-made hand finished cigars also used the Totalmente a mano inscription.

Fully Machine-made Cigars

Fully machine made (Mecanizado) cigars usually have no third inscription, except that an inscription "Envuelto a Mano" has been reported, meaning that the cigars were placed, packed and wrapped by hand.

No longer produced by Habanos.

EAN-13 Product Code

Since circa late-2010, a EAN-13 European standard product code (and the description of the product) is being added to the rear edge of dress boxes.

This number is different from the unique warranty seal number.

Box Seals


This section covers box seals that are applied by Habanos before the boxes leave the factory. This Habanos seal has been used since 1994.

The seals are typically affixed to the top right-hand corner of the box.

The seals fluoresce under ultra-violet black light.

Box Seal - Original Type 1994 to 2004

Type 1 is a self-adhesive, rectangular (102mm x 20mm seal). It comprises a white seal with full length gold line top & bottom, the leaf emblem and a second thin line in black; the word "Habanos" is in red and is embossed and has a yellow shadow.


Box Seal - Second Type 2005 to circa 2008/2009

Type 2 is a self-adhesive rectangular seal. It comprises a white seal with single full length gold line top & bottom, the leaf emblem and the text "Denominación de Origen Protegida" in black; the word "Habanos" is embossed, is red and has a yellow shadow. There are two sizes: 107mm x 21mm for boxes, 60mm x 20mm for small packs.


Box Seal - Third Type circa 2008/2009 on

Type 3 is virtually identical to the Type 2 but with the abbreviation D.O.P. (for Denominación de Origen Protegida) added.


Box Seal - Limited & Regional Editions

Limited Edition and Regional Edition boxes have a second seal set below the white Habanos seal.

seal seal

Box Seal - Machine-made Cigars circa 2011 on

A new seal exclusively for the ICT machine-made cigars appeared in 2011 (on a box of Partagás Chicos).


Union and Warranty Seals

The Union Seal was first introduced on 13th February 1889 by Royal Decree of the King of Spain to be used by the manufacturers (Union de Fabricantes de Tabaco).

A Provisional Seal is now known to exist during the period of United States' provisional administration of Cuba, between 1898 and 1902.

The Warranty Seal was introduced in 1902 when Cuba gained formal independence from the United States.

In 1912 the Cuban Government authorised a new design, subsequently modified in 1931, 1999 and 2009.

Union Seal - 1889 to 1898

This seal was introduced in 1889 when Cuba was still under Spanish control.

This seal had a portrait of Christopher Columbus on the right and the Coat of Arms of Spain and Habana on the left, and was used until Spain relinquished control of Cuba following the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

For these early seals, each factory would overprint their own name onto the seal.


Union Seal - 1898 to 1902

This seal is from the Office of the Provisional Governor of Cuba, the Provisional Administration of the United States.

It was used until Cuba gained formal independence from the United States in 1902.

Union Seal - 1898 to 1902

Warranty Seal - 1902 to 1912

This warranty seal was introduced in 1902 when Cuba obtained its independence from Spain and remained in use until 1912.

It is a modification of the earlier Spanish seal.  The Spanish Coat of Arms replaced by the Republic of Cuba Coat of Arms and Seal.

Warranty Seal - 1902 to 1912

Warranty Seal - 1912 to 1931

This seal was introduced on 16 July 1912 by the new independent Cuban Government and remained in use until 1931.

It has a simplified Cuban Coat of Arms and a scene of a tobacco field in lieu of the Christopher Columbus portrait.

From this seal onwards, factories no longer overprinted their own names onto the seals.

>Warranty Seal - 1912 to 1931

Warranty Seal - 1931 to 1961

This seal was a modification of the previous seal and had perforated edges (like a stamp).

It was printed in four languages with dark green ink and was glued to the boxes.

Warranty Seal - 1931 to 1961

Warranty Seal - 1962 to 1999

This seal is similar to the previous seal but without the perforations. 

Over the years, due to wear and tear of the printing plates, the nine workmen visible in the field reduced until the 1980/1990s, when only five are clearly visible.

It was printed with a lighter shade of green ink on a white paper, in 3 known sizes (+/-1mm):  182mm x 62mm & 97mm x 33mm for boxes, and 60mm x 20mm for cardboard packaging. The box seals were glued and the pack seals were self-adhesive.

Warranty Seal - 1962 to 1999

Warranty Seal - 1999 to 2009/2011

This seal was introduced in late 1999.  It was a major modification of the previous seal and incorporated more security features. There are two sizes (148mm x 49mm for boxes and 60mm x 20mm for cardboard packs). The smaller seal has no serial number.

The seals are manufactured with better quality self-adhesive paper, and have micro-printing and a hidden shield that fluoresces under ultra violet light. The box seal has a unique serial number printed in red ink that has different reactions under UV light.

Warranty Seal - 1999 to 2009/2011
Small Warranty Seal - 1999 to 2009/2011

There are several variations of this seal:

i. Darker green shade of ink, printed on bright white paper, providing a good contrast. Under UV light the paper fluoresces, a poorly defined pinkish-orange coloured shield appears and the whole serial number appears a very dark black-red.

ii. Lighter green shade of ink printed on creamy white paper, providing a less distinct appearance. Under UV light the paper does not fluoresce, a well-defined lemon-yellow coloured shield appears, and the whole serial number appears a very dark black-red.

iii. Similar to ii, but under UV light the letters of the serial number remain a very dark black-red, but the numbers strongly fluoresce bright red.

The hidden UV Image (incorrectly called a watermark) is located centrally above the serial number. It is a larger version of the printed shield.

The micro printing is present in two locations: towards the top just above the "Republic de Cuba" text and near the bottom below the "torcidos y picadura" text. 

The micro printing consists of "SELLO DE GARANTIA REPUBLICA DE CUBA" repeated across the seal between the two scrolls.  This is not readable to the naked eye and is not overly distinct or clear under magnification due to the printing process.  The image shown is an extremely clear version of the seal. It is not generally this clear.

The serial number consists of two letters and six numbers and the first letter of the Serial Number should correspond with the following box date code; the second letter appears to be somewhat random. Any serial number on the warranty seal commencing with XX or XY has been opened and inspected at the Habanos SA facility as part of their quality control and these boxes may have a "REVISADO" (reviewed) stamp on the base of the box.

Box Date Serial Number Prefix
October 1999 on A
2000 A
2001 A, B, D
2002 A, B, D
2003 B, D, E
2004 F, G
2005 G, H
2006 H, I
2007 I, EZ
2008 I
2009 I, J
2010 / 2011 J
NB.  There is no known serial prefix "C"

Warranty Seal - 2009 to circa late-2010

In 2009 Habanos S.A. introduced a seal with more security features. The previous seal, however, continued to be used until around 2011. Many boxes were released with both seals, the new seal overlaying the old seal.

There are two sizes of seals: a 118mm x 35mm for dress boxes, cabinets, etc and a 58mm x 20mm seal for carton packs. Both new seals incorporate a hologram and the larger seal has a serialised barcode and number in lieu of the previous serial number.

The smaller seal has no barcode (or serial number).

The serial numbers on the seal are unique numbers; they are not a product code (UPC or an EAN) number. There are four different formats of this number. The validity of this number can be checked at:

The seals are printed on a synthetic paper that is destroyed on removal. It incorporates a scan and photocopy protection system (presumably micro printing).  The hologram displays a bicolour text (click image to enlarge). The word "HABANOS" is also micro-printed ten times surrounding the Aqui logo, and three times underneath the larger Habanos text. This mirco-printing is far to small to be seen with the naked eye.

Current Warranty Seal - circa late-2010 on

Pre-mid 2013

Cuban tobacco warranty seal circa late-2010 Post-mid 2013

In late-2010 Habanos SA modified the new hologram seal bevelling the rounded corners, increasing the width of the seal by 2mm, and deleting the white boarder adjoining the hologram. The format of the barcode and serial number also changed. This seal still includes the hidden UV sensitive crest, however it is now off centre.

Starting in late 2011, the main seal was revised to feature the serial number micro-printed at various locations on the design. The small version of the seal was also revised around the same time, adding a unique micro-printed serial number to these seals also. These numbers cannot be checked on the Habanos website and do not appear to related to the main seal. Normally the numbers will be sequential on the cardboard packs within a display box.

In mid-2013, there was a change made to the seal holograms. The basic design remains the same, however, on the old style the "Habanos" appears blurred when looked at straight on, while the Aqui logo is fairly clear. On the new style holograms, the "Habanos" text is clear, while the Aqui logo appears blurred. The intention of this is to introduce a 3D motion effect as the light changes accross the hologram. The holograms on the small seals also changed in a similar fashion to those on the main seal around this time.

Seal Placement


Until 2009 seals were normally located on the left-hand side of the opening side of the box and positioned with a fold through the centre of the coat of arms. If the cigar box comes packed inside an outer cardboard carton, the warranty seal is normally affixed to the outer carton only.

The post-2010 seals are also placed with the fold through the centre of the coat of arms, but the orientation of the seal is reversed, so that the barcode shows at the front of the box.

Between 2009 and 2011 the new barcoded seals were typically affixed over the old seal.

box image

Transit Seal

Cuban tobacco transit seal
The transit seal was introduced circa-2010. It is a small seal that is placed on boxes at the factory before they shipped to a central warehouse where the main seal is applied. The main seal normally covers the transit seal, however it is sometimes partially exposed.
Updated Cuban tobacco transit seal
In 2014 the transit seal was updated with a new design.

Quality Seal

Cuban tobacco quality seal

The quality seal is placed on boxes that are inspected by the quality control team at the central warehouse. It is normally placed over the transit seal, and is subsequently covered by the warranty seal when that is applied.

The seal resembles a miniaturised warranty seal, with the text "CALIDAD HABANOS S.A." stamped over it. Calidad is Spanish for quality.

It is unknown when this seal was introduced, but boxes with it have been reported as early as 2003.

Distributor Logos, Health and Duty-Paid Stickers

Some distributors place a sticker on boxes that pass through their warehouses to authenticate their point-of-distribution origin. In some countries, a duty-paid sticker is also applied. If a box is sold at retail without a sticker in a region where a sticker is normally applied, this may indicate that the box entered the market via unofficial grey market channels.

Government health and anti-smoking labels are also generally applied by distributors in their warehouses at this time. This can range from a simple black and white warning to graphic colour images that cover most of the box. The presence or absence of these labels also can give some clue as to the history of the box.


Habanos produced for sale within Cuba have an exclusive hologram on the boxes. Only Habanos SA approved retailers in Cuba sell boxes of Cuban cigars with this hologram. Boxes produced for export do not have the hologram. The sticker is a transparent hologram with a serial number printed on it. Tourists may encounter issues leaving the country with cigars that don't have this hologram along with an official receipt.

hologram_image hologram_image hologram_image

United Kingdom

UK Distributor, Hunters & Frankau, resurrected the old EMS (English Market Selection) sticker in 1993. These stickers are applied to cigar boxes after clearing Bond and the payment of Customs & Excise Duty. Since 1998, the design of these stickers changes annually.

EMS stickers 1993-2004 EMS sticker 2005 EMS sticker 2006 EMS sticker 2007 EMS sticker 2011 EMS sticker 2012 EMS sticker 2013 EMS sticker 2014 EMS sticker 2015 EMS sticker 2016 EMS sticker 2017 EMS sticker 2018 EMS sticker 2019 EMS sticker 2020

UK Travel Retail, Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands

For boxes of Havana cigars sold unopened by Hunters & Frankau, a "H & F Imported Directly from Cuba" sticker is used. These stamps are applied to all boxes for UK Travel Retail and the Hunters & Frankau export markets (Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands).



German distributor, Fifth Avenue Products Ltd, apply a logo and a government duty sticker to their boxes. There have been a number of different styles of these stickers over the years, with the latest being introduced in April of 2018.

5th Avenue Sticker 1 5th Avenue Sticker 1 5th Avenue Sticker 3 5th Avenue Sticker 4


Italian Distributor, Diadema, apply their own logos as shown (2005 to 2010).

logo logo logo logo logo logo


The distributor for the Asia-Pacific region, The Pacific Cigar Co., apply the following quality and authenticity seals as shown.

pre-2005 Pacific Cigar Company seal
Hong Kong Pacific Cigar Company seal
Hong Kong
Australia Pacific Cigar Company seal
New Zealand Pacific Cigar Company seal
New Zealand


China's Distributor, Infifon Hong Kong, apply the following logo seal.

Infifon seal

Internal Flyers

Inside each box is a 104mm x 69mm advisory notice printed on a waxy paper in Spanish, English, French and German. The Cuban industry term for this flyer is a vitolina.

Since circa 2005, a newer notice was used, correcting the spacing error (in the English section) after the (16°C-18°C) text.

A further revision was released circa 2007 when the German and French texts were rewritten. The original German text had spelling and grammatical errors. Presumably the French text was changed for the same reason.

In 2012, the Habanos D.O.P. image was superimposed on the top right-hand corner of the notice and the notice text has been amended.

Various brands or lines within brands include a specific flyer describing their cigars.

Fifth Avenue

German distributor Fifth Avenue also inserts a quality control notice into their boxes.


Habanos Packaging Codes

On the Habanos SA website, a special packaging code is used to describe the Packaging available for each vitola.

The packaging code is made up of 6 parts, each part separated by the hyphen symbol (-).

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

The various parts of the code are shown in the following table:

Code Part Spanish Code Part Description
1 Envase exterior Packaging type
2 Material exterior Packaging material
3 Envase interior Internal packaging
4 Distribución interior Layer distribution
5 Envase individual Individual cigar packaging
6 Cantidad Total number of cigars

The individual codes in each part are as follows:

Part 1: Packaging Type - Envase Exterior
Abbreviation Spanish English
CB Cajón Corriente Current Box (standard, dress, or semi-plain box with pin)
CBB Cajón Corriente con Broche Current Box with Brooch
SLB Cajón Corredera Slide Lid Box
BN Cajón Boîte Nature Boîte Nature Box
SBN Cajón Semi Boîte Nature Semi Boîte Nature Box
SPB Estuche Especial Special Cabinets
CAB Gabinete Cabinet
898 Cajón 898 898 Box (two long sides curved)
JAR Jarra Jar
D Display Display
C Cajón Cartón Cardboard Box
BUN Mazo Bundle
P Petaca Pack
PWB Cajón de Plywood Plywood Box

Part 2: Packaging Material - Material Exterior
Abbreviation Spanish English
UW Madera sin Barnizar Unvarnished Wood
VW Madera Barnizar Varnished Wood
C Cartón Cardboard
G Cristal Glass
CER Cerámica Ceramic
S Varios Several
CEL Celofón Cellophane
M Metal Metal
P Papel Paper
A/F Papel de Aluminio Aluminium Paper Foil

Part 3: Internal Packing - Envase Interior
Abbreviation Spanish English
n Ninguno None (not applicable)
C/L Lámina de Cedro Cedar Sheet separators (or lining for jars)
C/S Separadores de Cartón Cardboard separator
C/P Petaca de Cartón Cardboard Pack
A/F Papel de Aluminio Aluminium Paper Foil
A/P Petaca de Aluminio Aluminium Pack
GPSR Papel Glassine con Cinta Sadra Glassine Paper with Silk Ribbon
SR Cinta Sadra Silk Ribbon
CEL Celofón Cellophane
SLB Caja Corredera Slide Lid Box- individual "coffin" box
P Papel Paper

Part 4: Layer Distribution - Distribución Interior
Abbreviation Spanish English
n Ninguno None - not applicable
M Mazo Bundled - not in layers
Numeric Entry Examples Meaning
single number  10 For boxes, represents the number of cigars per layer.
Can be a single layer or one or more equal layers.
 5 For carton packs, represents the number of cigars in each individual pack. 
To calculate the number of layers (or packs), divide the total number of cigars (from part 6 of the code) by this number.
multiple numbers 12,13(2 layers)
9,9,7(3 layers)
3,4,3(3 layers)
For boxes, the numbers (separated by a comma) represents the number of cigars in each layer (from the bottom layer up).

Part 5: Individual Cigar Packaging - Envase Individual
Abbreviation Spanish English
n Ninguno None - not applicable
A/T Tubo de Aluminio Aluminium Tube
A/F Papel de Aluminio Aluminium Paper Foil
G/F Papel Dorado Golden Paper Foil
S/F Papel Seda Tissue Paper
CW Envuelto en Cedro Cedar Wrapped
C/B Caja de Carton Cardboard Box
W/B Caja de Madera Wood Box
G/T Tubo de Cristal Glass Tube
P/T Tubo de Plástico Plastic Tube
CWCEL Envuelto en Cedro y Celofón Cedar Wrapped and Cellophane
CEL Celofón Cellophane
P Papel Paper

Part 6: Total Number of Cigars - Cantidad
Numeric Entry Example Meaning
 a single number
For boxes, this is the total number of cigars.
For display/carton packs, this number represents the total number of cigars in the full package.
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