Classifying tobacco for import and export
Get help to classify cigarettes, cigars, raw tobacco, smoking tobacco, tobacco for heating and nicotine substitutes for import and export.
This guidance refers to chapters and headings in the UK Integrated Online Tariff. If you’re importing goods into Northern Ireland, or if this guidance does not include your item, read the last section ‘More information’.
Raw and unmanufactured tobacco
All forms of unmanufactured tobacco and tobacco refuse is classified under heading 2401. The term ‘unmanufactured tobacco’ includes many forms, for example:
- tobacco supplied as whole plants
- leaves in the natural state
- cured or fermented leaves
The heading also includes tobacco which has been:
- stemmed or stripped
- trimmed or untrimmed
- broken or cut, including pieces cut to shape
Also classified under this heading are tobacco leaves that have been treated to prevent mould and drying and to preserve the flavour. These tobacco leaves will have been:
- blended, stemmed or stripped
- ‘cased’ (‘sauced’ or ‘liquored’) with a liquid of appropriate composition
It does not include tobacco which is ready for smoking. For example unprocessed tobacco that is:
- already prepared for retail distribution
- split from a bulk consignment into smaller quantities
- going to be processed into a smokeable state at home, for example, in a domestic blender or shredder
This is considered smokeable without further industrial processing.
If the product meets this specification it is classified under commodity code 2403 19 10.
Tobacco refuse is classified under commodity code 2401 30 00 and includes all waste resulting from the:
- manipulation of tobacco leaves
- manufacture of tobacco products
Tobacco waste prepared (or claimed to be) for sale as smoking tobacco or chewing tobacco, snuff or tobacco powder is excluded from subheading 2401 30. It is classified under heading 2403.
Cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes, of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes
This also includes mixtures of tobacco.
These are classified under heading 2402 regardless of the proportions of tobacco present in the mixture. For example, ‘cigarettes’ made from specially processed leaves of a variety of lettuce which contain neither tobacco nor nicotine would also be classified under this heading.
Loose tobacco including pipe tobacco and tobacco for hand rolling cigarettes are classified under heading 2403, see ‘Loose hand-rolling and pipe tobacco’.
Heading 2402 does not cover medicinal cigarettes, these are classified in chapter 30. Cigarettes containing certain types of products formulated to discourage the habit of smoking, but which do not have medicinal properties remain classified in this heading.
Loose hand-rolling and pipe tobacco
Smoking tobacco includes loose hand-rolling and pipe tobacco whether or not it contains tobacco substitutes in any proportion, for use with a water pipe (hookah). These are classified under subheading 2403 11, which covers ‘water pipe tobacco’ specified in subheading note 1 to chapter 24.
Smoking tobacco will have been cut or otherwise split, twisted or pressed into blocks which can be smoked without further industrial processing.
A water pipe uses a small charcoal tablet to gently heat a special flavour-infused tobacco blend. The tobacco never burns but is filtered as it’s drawn through water in the glass base before it’s inhaled through the hoses.
Water pipes are also often known as:
- shisha or sheesha — also known as tabac, tombak, gouza, guza or moassel
- hubble bubble
- nargeela — also known as nargile, narghile, nargileh or narguile
- argeela — also known as arghileh or arguile
- gewat suckre
This style of pipe can be used for smoking many substances, including herbal fruits and tobacco like shisha tobacco. Shisha tobacco is:
- a mixture of tobacco, molasses or sugar
- flavoured with fruit, glycerol, aromatic oils and extracts, for example, meassel or massel
Products for water pipes that contain tobacco are classified under subheading 2403 11, which also includes products not containing molasses or sugar, such as Tumbak or Ajmani.
Tobacco-free products for water pipes, for example Jurak, are classified under subheading 2403 99.
Cartridges and refills intended to for use in water pipes as a fog fluid containing aromatic flavourings are classified under the following commodity codes :
- 3824 99 92 if in liquid form at 20°C
- 3824 99 93 if other than in liquid form at 20°C
‘Homogenised’ or ‘reconstituted’ tobacco and tobacco extracts and essences
‘Homogenised’ or ‘reconstituted’ tobacco is classified under commodity code 2403 91 00. It includes products made of reformed tobacco made from tobacco leaves, tobacco refuse or dust. It can be supplied on a backing, for example, a sheet of cellulose from tobacco stems. It can either be used as a wrapper in sheet form or shredded or chopped as a filler.
Manufactured tobacco substitutes include smoking mixtures which do not contain any tobacco. These may have a basis of herbs or other plants.
Tobacco extracts and essences are liquids which are extracted from moist tobacco leaves by either pressure or prepared by boiling waste tobacco in water. They’re used for the manufacture of insecticides or parasiticides.
Manufactured tobacco substitutes, tobacco extracts and essences are classified under commodity code 2403 99 90.
Tobacco seed oil is classified under heading 1515 as other fixed vegetable fats and oils.
Chewing tobacco is usually a highly fermented and liquored form of tobacco which is designed to be chewed, not smoked. It’s supplied in long strands of whole or very coarsely shredded leaves, or in the form of rolls, sticks, strips, cubes and blocks. It’s consumed by placing a part of the tobacco between the cheek and gum or the teeth and is then chewed. It’s classified under commodity code 2403 99 10.
As well as western styles of chewing tobacco, there are many ethnic varieties, but all are classified under commodity code 2403 99 10.
Paan masala is a filling often used in a type of Indian snack called Paan. A betel leaf is used as a wrapping and the whole product is chewed as a palate cleanser and breath freshener.
The ingredients of paan masalas vary and may or may not contain tobacco. Classification depends on the composition of the product and its intended use. For example, a betel leaf filled with a mixture of coarsely ground or chopped betel nuts and other spices (paan supari) is classified under heading 2008 as a preparation of nuts. If the paan contains tobacco (tambaku paan) in any proportion, it is classified under heading 2403.
Gutka is a preparation of crushed betel nuts, (supari) tobacco, catechu, lime, elachi (cardamoms), perfumed and permitted spices and flavours, and is consumed like chewing tobacco. This is classified in the same way as paan under heading 2403.
Snuff, and tobacco which is compressed or liquored for the purpose of making snuff, is classified under commodity codes 2403 99 10. Snuff is tobacco in powder or grain form which has been treated so that it can be taken as snuff and not smoked.
Nasal snuff is a dry to semi moist finely ground tobacco product which is mainly used in the nasal cavity. It can be presented in various flavours.
Pakistani neswar is also classified as snuff.
Tobacco for heating products
Tobacco for heating is used in hand-held devices that operate in a variety of ways. The devices contain processed tobacco that is heated to produce flavoured vapour. The tobacco cannot be smoked. They are distinct from e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco.
A small amount of processed tobacco is contained in a capsule which is inserted into a hand-held device. The device heats it to release flavours and nicotine but without the burning of the tobacco.
Tobacco products intended for inhalation without combustion are classified to subheading 2404 11.
Products classified under heading 2403
Products classified under this heading include:
- products for smoking, for example, ‘water pipe tobacco’ consisting wholly of tobacco substitutes and substances other than tobacco
- extracts and essences
- powder with no impurities with a particle size of under 0.4 millimetres — the powder is generally obtained by a process of, for example, grinding which results in a particular size distribution
- spun, scented and fermented Brazilian tobaccos pressed in skins into a ball shape (mangotes)
Nicotine replacements and addiction relief, including electronic cigarettes
There are a number of different relief products and alternatives to cigarettes, including:
- chewing gum
- electronic cigarettes
These types of products are classified under different headings based on their own characteristics.
Nicotine replacement products for oral application
These include preparations, tablets and chewing gum which are classified to subheading 2404 91 as products containing nicotine intended for intake into the human body, other than by inhalation.
Nicotine based hand gel
The gel is rubbed into the hands, so the nicotine is absorbed through the skin to weaken the craving for a cigarette. This is marketed as an alternative to cigarettes. The gels are classified as tobacco products for transdermal application under subheading 2404 92.
Nicotine patches (transdermal systems) intended to help smokers to stop smoking are classified under subheading 2404 92.
Nicotine mouth spray
Nicotine mouth spray (transdermal systems) intended to help smokers to stop smoking are classified under subheading 2404 92.
Electronic cigarettes and nicotine inhalers
An electronic cigarette with a packet of cartridges will be classified together under subheading 8543 40.
Disposable e-cigarettes and similar disposable personal electric vaporising devices are classified to 2404 12 00 10 if they:
- incorporate the product intended for inhalation without combustion
- are not designed for refilling or recharging
A nicotine cartridge and refills containing a preparation of nicotine intended to assist smokers to stop smoking is classified commodity code 3824 99 56 or 3824 99 57.
Inhalators are classified according to the cartridges they are supplied with. Such products are classified in the same way as cartridges for the electronic cigarette to commodity code 2404 12 00 10.
Empty cartridges with an upper part shaped like a mouthpiece, which have a small hole through which vapour is inhaled, are classified as a part of an electronic cigarette under commodity code 8543 90 00.
Excise duty on tobacco products
Whether excise study applies and at what rate does not depend on classification. The duty is set out by the Tobacco Products (Descriptions of Products) Order 2003.
Find out more about any duty due in relation to your products.
If this guidance does not cover your specific item in detail and you’re importing goods into Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) you can search for it in the UK Integrated Online Tariff.
If you’re importing goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and the EU, and the goods are:
not ‘at risk’ of onward movement to the EU, you should also use the UK Integrated Online Tariff
at risk of onward movement to the EU, you should use the Northern Ireland Online Tariff
If this guidance does cover your item, you’ll still need to look up the full commodity code to use in your declaration on the appropriate Tariff.
You can find more ways to help you find a commodity code by referring to the links given in this section.
Last updated 30 March 2023 + show all updates
Updated to reflect the impact of new heading 2404 and two related new notes to chapter 24.
This page has been updated with guidance on tobacco for heating
'Loose hand-rolling and pipe tobacco' section has been updated with more information on cartridges and refills in water pipes.
Additional information added relating to unprocessed tobacco and smoking tobacco. Change to product number with regard to nicotine based hand gel. Change to heading number for nicotine patches. Change to heading number with regard to nicotine cartridge.
Amendments to commodity code 382490.
The further information section has been updated to show the change of contact details.
Tobacco products under ref numbers changed from customer Lisa Cureton-Burgess. Suzanne Meek