Import tobacco products into the UK

Find out how you can import tobacco products into the UK from inside and outside the European Union.


There are several ways to import tobacco products into the UK. The best way for your business depends on what country they come from and how often you’ll import them.

Imports from other European Union countries

Products in duty suspension

Occasional imports

For one-off or infrequent imports of tobacco in duty suspension, you can apply to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to become a Temporary Registered Consignee.

You must do this for every consignment, and you must follow the procedures for Registered Consignees.

You’ll also have to pay the duty to HMRC in advance.

Regular imports

If you regularly bring tobacco products in duty suspension into the UK from other European Union (EU) countries you can either:

  • apply for approval as a Registered Consignee
  • use a Registered Consignee acting on your behalf who will import them for you
  • use an authorised warehousekeeper who receives goods on your behalf into duty suspension in an excise warehouse approved to receive imports

If you’re a manufacturer and you have a registered store, you may also receive tobacco products from other countries into your registered store under duty suspension.

Registered Consignee’s can’t store or dispatch excise goods in duty suspension. They must pay excise duty on the goods as soon as they are received.

Duty-paid products

To import tobacco products into the UK commercially which have been released for consumption in another EU country, you need to either:

  • follow the procedures for the standard scheme for unregistered Commercial Importers and pay any UK duty in advance
  • be an approved Registered Commercial Importer and follow the appropriate procedures – with this option you can defer duty payments

Read about Commercial Importers and Registered Commercial Importers.

Imports from outside the EU

To import tobacco from outside the EU, you need to pay UK excise duty when it reaches the UK. You won’t need to pay the duty at this point, though, if your products are either:

  • delivered to an excise warehouse approved for that purpose
  • received into your registered store if you’re a registered manufacturer

Read about importing excise goods from outside the EU.

Read more on duty suspension.

Customs Duty and VAT

For any tobacco products brought into the UK, you will also have to follow procedures regarding the payment of Customs Duty and VAT.

Fiscal marking

As an importer of tobacco products into the UK, you need to follow the legal requirements for fiscal markings on cigarette and hand-rolling tobacco.

Published 9 November 2009