CUBAN CIGARS PACKAGING
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 can be finished in various ways:
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.
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.
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.
Aluminium tubes first appeared in the mid-1940s and were quite common by the 1950s.
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 Some of the minor brands are having the tubes withdrawn.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.
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 can be either clear or opaque, with push-top caps.
Their current use is limited to ICT machine-made cigars.
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.
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.
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.
Cigars are or were packaged for sale in the following various forms:
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.
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.
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.
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.
A “soft-pack” cardboard box, printed to look like a dress box, containing either a cellophane or aluminium paper foil wrapped bundle of cigars.
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 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 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.
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.
A metal, flat, pocket-sized pack or case, usually hinged and typically containing 5 cigars.
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:
- 1985 to 1998 – Original Date System
- 1999 – Transitional Date System
- 2000 to now – Current Date System
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:
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|
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:
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|
Examples:January 1999 is: CCUN
December 1999 is: CCNE or LROO depending on the factory of origin.
Current Date System 2000
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|
|August||Agosto||AGO||….and so on|
Examples:January 2000 is: ENE00
December 2005 is: DIC05
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.
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.
|Antilla||Holguín||TTH||UNG||PUL, URE, UPA, IESC|
|Arroyo Blanco||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CEG||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|Artemisa I||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TEN||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Artemisa II||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TEC||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Báez||Villa Clara||VC||DNU||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Bejucal||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TND||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Briones Montoto – Romeo y Julieta||Havana City||BM||EDC||PEL|
|Cabaiguán||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||COT||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|Camajuaní||Villa Clara||VC||DDE||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Candelaria||Pinar del Rio||FD/PR||GDI||LRL, SLA|
|Carlos Baliño – El Rey del Mundo||Havana City||CB||EGD||LOC|
|Cienfuegos I||Cienfuegos||CFGS||OTC||EOP, LAC, SEL, PUV|
|Cienfuegos II||Cienfuegos||CFGS||OAI||EOP, LAC, SEL, PUV|
|Consolación del Sur||Pinar del Rio||FD/PR||GAO||LRL, SLA|
|Cruces||Cienfuegos||CFGS||OOG||EOP, LAC, SEL, PUV|
|Cumanayagua||Cienfuegos||CFGS||OET||EOP, LAC, SEL, PUV|
|El Laguito||Havana City||EL||EUN||CLE|
|Esperanza||Villa Clara||VC||DIT||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Fomento||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CGI||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|Francisco Pérez Germán – Partagás||Havana City||FPG||EAT||OSU|
|Gibara||Holguín||TTH||UDI||PUL, URE, UPA, IESC|
|Guayos||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CNE||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|Güines||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TOU||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Güira I||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TAE||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Güira II||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TDC||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Héroes de Moncada||Havana City||HM||ENI||RPO|
|Holguín I||Holguín||TTH||UAN||PUL, URE, UPA, IESC|
|Holguín II||Holguín||TTH||UCE||PUL, URE, UPA, IESC|
|Jatibonico||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CTO||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|José Martí – H. Upmann||Havana City||JM||ECA||ECA|
|Juan Cano Sainz – Por Larrañaga||Havana City||FL/PL/PO||EEO|
|Lajas||Cienfuegos||CFGS||OIN||EOP, LAC, SEL, PUV|
|Manicaragua||Villa Clara||VC||DEC||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Miguel Fernández Roig – La Corona||Havana City||FR||EOG||EOG, EAR|
|Perea||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CUN||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|Piloto||Pinar del Rio||FD/PR||GCN||LRL, SLA|
|Pinar del Río||Pinar del Rio||FD/PR||GNU||LRL, SLA|
|Placetas||Villa Clara||VC||DGC||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Quemado de Güines||Villa Clara||VC||DAI||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Quivicán||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TIO||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Ranchuelo||Villa Clara||VC||DOD||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Remedios||Villa Clara||VC||DCO||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|San Andrés||Holguín||TTH||UET||PUL, URE, UPA, IESC|
|San Antonio de las Vegas||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TGT||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|San Antonio I||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TCI||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|San Antonio II||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TNG||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|San Juan (Rio Seco)||Pinar del Rio||FD/PR||GOC||LRL, SLA|
|San Nicolás de Bari||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TUD||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Sancti-Spíritus||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CID||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|Santa Clara I||Villa Clara||VC||DTA||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Santa Clara II||Villa Clara||VC||DAT||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Santa Cruz del Norte||La Habana (Province)||TLP||TTA||CAV,ALV,SSU,VEL,SOL, PAR, SCO, LPE|
|Santiago de Cuba||Santiago de Cuba||–||AGE||OLA|
|Santo Domingo||Villa Clara||VC||DNC||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Taguasco||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CDU||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|Trinidad||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CAC||VCR, DUO, REC, PAS, USP, APE, LUL, CLO, SRA, OVU|
|Vueltas||Villa Clara||VC||DUN||URL, LES, SUA,CPV, RSE, PUC|
|Zaza del Medio||Sancti-Spíritus||SS||CCA||VCR, 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.
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).
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.
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 boxes were stamped: “MADE IN HAVANA-CUBA” in English capitals. The text in very early boxes was not enclosed.
The “MADE IN HAVANA-CUBA” text was enclosed on a double oval. The stamp was about 67mm long.
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/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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.
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|
|2001||A, B, D|
|2002||A, B, D|
|2003||B, D, E|
|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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Italian Distributor, Diadema, apply their own logos as shown (2005 to 2010).
The distributor for the Asia-Pacific region, The Pacific Cigar Co., apply the following quality and authenticity seals as shown.
China’s Distributor, Infifon Hong Kong, apply the following logo seal.
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.
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|
|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|
|898||Cajón 898||898 Box (two long sides curved)|
|C||Cajón Cartón||Cardboard Box|
|PWB||Cajón de Plywood||Plywood Box|
|Part 2: Packaging Material – Material Exterior|
|UW||Madera sin Barnizar||Unvarnished Wood|
|VW||Madera Barnizar||Varnished Wood|
|A/F||Papel de Aluminio||Aluminium Paper Foil|
|Part 3: Internal Packing – Envase Interior|
|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|
|SLB||Caja Corredera||Slide Lid Box- individual “coffin” box|
|Part 4: Layer Distribution – Distribución Interior|
|n||Ninguno||None – not applicable|
|M||Mazo||Bundled – not in layers|
|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)
|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|
|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|
|Part 6: Total Number of Cigars – Cantidad|
|a single number||25||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.|