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

logo Individual Cigars

Individual cigars can be finished in various ways:

Plain Cigars
Plain Cigars

Cigar bands (Anillas) were introduced in Cuba circa 1870s.  Since mid-2006, all Cuban cigars have bands applied. Between 2004 and 2006, slide lid boxes can be found either banded or 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.

Plain cigars in dress boxes are "box pressed"; that is, squeezed down to form flat sides rather being rounded.

Cellophane Sleeved

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 was restricted to machine-made cigars, which were discontinued by Habanos c2002/2003. Cellophane is now used only for ICT machine-made Puritos.

Cedar Wrapped

Cedar Wrapped

The wrapping of cigars in cedar sheet was intended to add a cedar aroma to the cigar.

The cedar sheet provides some protection against physical damage and may be left on when storing in a humidor.

Tissue Wrapped

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

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

Gold Foil Wrapped

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

The foil is either plain or patterned and to date has only been used to partly wrap the cigars.

Cedar Wrapped & Cellophane Sleeved

Cedar Wrapped & Cellophane Sleeved

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

This form of packaging has been discontinued.

Aluminium Tubes

Standard Tube
Aluminium Tubes
Premium Tube

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 recommends removing them from their tubes if storing in a humidor although MRN 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

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

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

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

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

Cedar Tubes

Cedar Tubes

The cedar timber tube was a special release tube once used by the discontinued Davidoff brand.

Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard Boxes

An individual "soft-pack" cardboard box, containing a single cigar. 

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

Small SLB

Small SLBs

A small unvarnished solid or cedar plywood timber slide lid box, usually containing a single round cigar.  Also known as a "coffin box".

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

Small Varnished SLB

Small Varnished SLBs

As above, but with a clear varnish finish.

Foil Wrapped in SLB
Boxed & Foil Wrapped SLBs

Unvarnished small slide lid box, containing one or more aluminium foil wrapped cigars.



Culebras means "snakes" in Spanish and as a packing term means 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

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 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.

logo Packaging Types

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

Dress Boxes

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
Slide Lid Boxes

This is an unvarnished 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.

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

Boxes of 25 & 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.

Varnished Slide Lid Boxes

Varnished Slide Lid Boxes

As above, but with a clear varnish finish to all sides, except the base.

Semi Boite Nature Boxes

Semi Boite Nature Boxes

An unvarnished timber box containing 10, 24, 25, or 50 round cigars in layers. This box has a flat hinged lid (no sealing-collars) and is fitted with metal hinges & brooch clasp. Around 1997, the timber changed from solid cedar to cedar veneered plywood.

Boxes of 10 are normally in a single layer whilst boxes of 25 are normally in a double layer.

Varnished Semi Boite Nature Boxes

Varnished Semi Boite Nature Boxes

As above, but with a clear varnish finish to all sides, except the base.

The Trinidad brand boxes of 12 & 24, packed in layers of 6, with a silk ribbon to assist cigar removal.

Boite Nature Boxes

Boite Nature Boxes

A clear varnished finished cedar timber box normally containing cigars in layers. This box has a formed metal hinged lid with projecting sealing collars and is fitted with a brooch clasp.

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

Varnished Boite Nature Boxes

Varnished Boite Nature Boxes

As above, but with a clear varnish finish.

Lacquered Boite Nature Boxes

Lacquered Boite Nature Boxes

As above, but with an opaque lacquered gloss black finish.

Varnished 898 Boxes

Varnished 898 Boxes

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

898 Boxes

898 Boxes

As above, but unvarnished.

Boxes of 50 have a ribbon tided bundle of cigars.



Cajóns of 50 and 100 (discontinued c1980s).



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.

Varnished Cabinets

Varnished Cabinets

Clear varnished cedar timber Cabinet, fitted with cedar sealing collars, metal hinges & a brooch clasp or slide lock.

The cigars are packed in layers.

Lacquered Cabinets

Lacquered Cabinets

As above, but a gloss opaque lacquered finish.

These Cabinets are normally black, but some early Cabinets were finished with a green lacquer.

Special Boxes

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 or a standard dress box.

Cardboard Boxes

Soft-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

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

Cardboard Packs

Small, "soft" cardboard, flat, pocket-sized pack, 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 normally available in lots of ten, in an outer box, suitable for retail display.

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 (no serial number) on the pack.

Ceramic Jars

Ceramic Jar

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

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 Can

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

Metal Tins

Circular Metal Tin Square Metal Tin

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 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.  Larger packs of 50 & 100 were apparently in use (details unknown).

Metal Packs

Metal Packs

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

Travel Humidors

Travel Humidors Travel Humidors

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

It includes leather bound humidors, special timber boxes and travel packs containing humidified tubes.

logo 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

logo 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 & 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, & 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 & 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.

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 on, 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.

For more information about factories....... click here

logo 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.


logo Box Stamps

In addition to the box date codes and factory codes, Cuban cigar boxes have other box stamps.  These are impact stamped onto the box and some indentation should be evident.

Producer's Name

box stamps Between 1985 and 1994, "Cubatobacco" was the authority responsible for the production of Cuban cigars. They used a stylised tobacco leaf logo above the word. This leaf symbol was later incorporated into the Habanos box sticker (see below).
box stamps From 1994 to present, "Habanos S.A." is the responsible authority.

Country of Manufacture

Before September 1960, the fabrication of cigar boxes was not centralised, with each Factory making 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. (Original research by MRN)

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.

box stampes 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.

box stampes Pre-September 1960
The "MADE IN HAVANA-CUBA" text was enclosed on a double oval.  The stamp was about 67mm long.
box stampes Early 1960s to Circa 1962/1963
In the early 1960s, the inscription was changed to "HECHO EN CUBA", Spanish for "Made or grown in Cuba" and was enclosed in a double oval. The stamp was about 67mm long.

box stampes Circa 1962/1963 to late 1960s
Similar to above but a single thick line oval.
box stampes Late 1960s to 1974
Almost identical to the above but marginally shorter by 1mm.
box stampes 1974 to 1978
Very similar to above, but now about 68mm long.  This stamp showed excessive 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.
box stampes 1978 to 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.
box stampes 1980 to Circa 1982/1983
Reintroduction of the large stamp.
box stampes Circa 1982/1983 to March 1985
Another slight variation to the large stamp.
box stampes March 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
stamps 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

stampsSince 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
stampsThe 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
stampsFully 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

imageSince 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.

logo Box_Seals

seal 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 background.seal

Box Seal - Second Type 2005 to circa 2008/2009
Type 2 is a self-adhesive rectangular seal. 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 background. 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. 

This seal is slowly being introduced factory by factory as the older (Type 2) seals are depleted.  Actual dates appear to be late 2008 to 2010. 


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).


logo 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
image 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 was used until Spain relinquished control following the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Union Seal - 1898 to 1902
seal 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

seal 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 and is no longer over-printed with the factory name.

Warranty Seal - 1912 to 1931

seal 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.

Warranty Seal - 1931 to 1961

seal 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
seal 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 (overlaps with following seal)

seal seal 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 (two types of paper), micro-printing, a hidden ultra violet shield (two types), with the box seal bearing a unique serial number printed in red ink, that has different reactions under UV light.

Currently there are several known 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.

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

seal The micro printing is present in 2 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......generally it is not 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
seal seal image In 2009 Habanos SA commenced the introduction of a seal with more security features.  The previous seal, however, continued to be used until circa 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).
Cuban tobacco transit seal This generation of seal also saw the introduction of the transit seal, which is placed on the boxes at the factory before they shipped to a central warehouse where the main seal is applied, covering the transit seal.
Updated Cuban tobacco transit seal In 2014 the transit seal was updated with a new design.

Current Warranty Seal - circa late-2010 on

Cuban tobacco warranty seal circa late-2010 In circa late-2010 Habanos SA modified the new hologram seal by bevelling-off the rounded corners, making the seal some 2mm wider, and deleting the white boarder adjoining the hologram.

Like previous seals, it is likely that post-dated boxes with the older style seal will be found.  Overlapping of seal types is common while the old seals are used up.
Cuban tobacco warranty seal circa late-2010 Starting in late 2011, the seal was revised to feature a micro-printed serial number at various locations on the design.

Pre-mid 2013

Post-mid 2013
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.

Seal Placement

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

The new seals are also be placed with the fold through the centre of the coat of arms, but with the barcode showing at the front of the box, resulting in the seal being fixed in reverse of the previous seals.

There is a transition period between 2009 and 2011 when both the new & old seals are affixed.

box image

logo Health, Logos, and Duty-Paid Stickers

These are stickers applied by the Regional Distributors before being sent to retailers.

Government Health Warning Stickers
These are placed on boxes by the regional distributors to comply with local anti-smoking laws.

Logos and other Duty-Paid Stickers

These include stickers applied by some distributors to authenticate their point-of-distribution origin.  In some countries, a duty-paid sticker is also applied.  The following are examples of these type of seals from some regions.

Habanos cigars 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.
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.
ems ems ems ems ems ems

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, apply a logo and a government duty sticker.  Old style and new style shown.
stamps stamps stamps

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

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

Pre-2005 Hong Kong Australia New Zealand

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

logo Internal Notices

Inside each box is a 104mm x 69mm advisory notice printed on a waxy paper in Spanish, English, French and German.

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 & 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.

As with most things Cuban, there will be a date overlap while old stocks are used up.

  image image image image

Fifth Avenue

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


Aged Cigars

In 2011 Habanos SA released selected aged (Añejados) cigars. 

The cigars are aged for more than five years and are identified by the addition of a special band added to the cigars, an internal notice and Revisado stamped on the base of the box.

image   image image

logo 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 Boite Nature Boite Nature Box
SBN Cajón Semi Boite Nature Semi Boite 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 Cartón 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 Cartón Cedar Wrapped and Cellophane
CEL Cartón 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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