A Guide to EMS Cigar Stamps

If you have bought Cuban cigars in the UK, then the likelihood is that you have seen an EMS Cigar Stamp. We explore what EMS stamps are and what they mean for cigars.

What is an EMS Cigar Stamp?

EMS is an acronym for ‘English Market Selection’. English Market Selection has been used for over a hundred years in Cuba to identify cigars designated for the British market. It is like a quality control stamp, ensuring that only the best smokes are being transported overseas to Britain. It is an additional quality inspection within the UK.

The UK and Cuba have long been linked with cigars and cigar distribution, with Imperial Tobacco, a British company, integral in distributing cigars around the world. The UK also regularly gets its own regional edition limited edition cigars produced by Habanos SA.

The Stamp

While the English Market Selection has been around for over a century, the stamp itself was not actually created until 1993, when Hunters & Frankau developed the EMS stamp. The stamp was created so that it would be an easily-identifiable marker for authenticity and quality.

Now, when a box of Cuban cigars has passed a UK quality inspection, the box will receive an EMS stamp. All Cuban cigars that have been chosen for sale in the UK market will display the stamp.

Each stamp is also individually numbered, allowing the box’s history to be traced if required.

Since 1997, the colour of the stamp has changed annually, in an effort to reduce issues with counterfeiting.

What Does the EMS Stamp Mean?

As mentioned, the English Market Selection stamp is used to denote quality. With this comes a guarantee that:

  • The box of cigars has come directly from Habanos S.A. to Hunters & Frankau.
  • The cigars have been shipped and stored by experts to ensure that the cigars are in the best condition, despite travelling overseas.
  • The box of cigars has passed UK quality checks.
  • All of the duties have been paid for the box of cigars to enter the UK.
  • The box of cigars has the up-to-date UK health warnings on them.

When a box of Cuban cigars reaches the Hunters & Frankau warehouse, the box is opened, and the cigars are inspected to ensure that they are of good enough quality to be sold to the UK market. To do this, the seals of the cigar box will be cut open.


Why is the EMS Stamp Important?

Aside from guaranteeing the above points, the EMS stamp is also a key way of deterring the sale of counterfeit cigars in the UK. Unfortunately, counterfeiting is a big problem in the cigar industry, so the EMS stamp offers some extra security. As mentioned, the colour of the stamp is changed each year to help reduce the risk of counterfeiting.

If you have concerns about counterfeit cigars, then you can check out our previous blog post on how to spot a counterfeit Cuban cigar.

Here at Havana House, we have a wide range of genuine Cuban cigars. As well as being checked by Hunters & Frankau when imported, we check all of the cigars we receive at Havana House ourselves, to ensure that the product meets our high standards

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