How to apply for the Raw Tobacco Approval Scheme

Information on how to apply for approval to use raw tobacco in a controlled activity.


From 1 April 2017, anyone who carries out any activity involving raw tobacco in the UK must get approval from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Any business or private individual who puts raw tobacco to a controlled activity within the UK must apply to the Raw Tobacco Approval Scheme.

In some cases there are exemptions from applying to the scheme. You can find out more in the Excise Notice 2003: Tobacco Duty – the Raw Tobacco Approval Scheme.

You can’t deal with raw tobacco until your approval has been granted.


You’ll need to write a letter to apply to the scheme. The letter must be submitted by a private individual or the responsible person within a business. This will either be:

  • the sole proprietor of the business
  • one of the partners, if the business is a partnership
  • the representative member of a group, for group registrations

If the business is a corporate body this will be an authorised signatory, such as a director or the company secretary.

If the application is made for:

The person submitting the application must declare all the information in the application is true and complete.


You can submit your written application for the scheme from 1 January 2017. You must apply at least 45 working days in advance of the date that you intend to start trading.

If you need to be approved to start trading from the 1 April 2017 then you must apply before 31 January 2017.

Where to send your application

You’ll need to send your written application to:

Raw Tobacco Approval Scheme
Excise Processing Teams

Before you apply

You’ll need to give information about the raw tobacco controlled activities that you’re applying for. Whether you’re applying as a business or as a private individual you’ll need to give:

  • a contact telephone number, postal address and email address
  • details of your intended controlled activities
  • addresses of all the premises from which you intend to carry out controlled activities
  • the names, addresses and VAT numbers of who will be supplying your raw tobacco
  • whether your supplier is registered in the UK
  • the estimated quantity of raw tobacco over a 12 month period you’ll be carrying out a controlled activity for

There is additional information below to supply, depending on whether you’re a business or a private individual.

You must be a fit and proper person to carry out a controlled activity. HMRC will consider various criteria including any evidence of illicit trading by the applicant.

HMRC may ask you for further information after your initial application.

Apply as a business

If you’re applying to carry out a controlled activity as part of your business, you’ll also need to give HMRC the business’s trading name and its legal name.

If your business is registered at Companies House, you’ll also need to include:

  • its registration number, with its registered address and how long it has been there
  • the names, addresses, and National Insurance numbers for all directors, members and partners as appropriate

Apply as a private individual

If you’re applying for your own use of raw tobacco for a controlled activity, you’ll also need to give HMRC your:

  • name and address
  • date of birth


If HMRC approves your application, you’ll receive your approval letter in the post. It will contain:

  • your unique approval number, referred to as your UAN
  • your name and address
  • any specific conditions or restrictions, if applicable
  • the details of each approved controlled activity
  • the address from which you’re allowed to carry out your approved controlled activity

An approval will last for an initial period of 12 months and will be reviewed within this time.

Find out more about Tobacco Products Duty.

Published 14 December 2016