Guidance

Import tobacco products into the UK

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

There are several ways to import tobacco products into the UK. The best way for your business depends whether you are based in Great Britain or Northern Ireland and:

  • how frequently you’ll be importing
  • whether you’re importing from countries inside or outside the EU
  • whether excise duty has already been paid on the goods in an EU country

Imports into Northern Ireland from the EU

This section only applies to Northern Ireland, not the whole of the UK.

Occasional imports of tobacco products in duty suspension from EU countries

If you import tobacco products in duty suspension from EU countries infrequently, you can apply to HMRC to become a Temporary Registered Consignee.

Before the goods are dispatched, you’ll have to pay duty on each consignment to HMRC.

Regular imports of products in duty suspension from EU countries

If you regularly import tobacco products in duty suspension from EU countries you can use one of 3 methods:

  • apply for approval as a registered consignee

  • use the services of a registered consignee who will import them for you
  • use the services of an authorised warehousekeeper who receives the tobacco products for you and stores it in duty suspension in an approved excise warehouse

If you use the services of an authorised warehousekeeper you must apply for approval as a registered owner.

As a registered consignee, you’re not allowed to hold or dispatch excise goods in duty suspension. You must account for the duty due as soon as the goods are received in the UK, and then pay the duty under deferment arrangements.

Import duty-paid tobacco into Northern Ireland from the EU

If tobacco products have been released for consumption in an EU country it’s classed as duty paid. To import it into Northern Ireland on a commercial basis, you can use either:

  • the registered commercial importer scheme - by registering with HMRC the UK duty due on your goods is secured and then paid under deferment arrangements
  • the standard duty-paid scheme - you don’t need to be registered as you pay HMRC the duty before the goods are dispatched

Read more about importer schemes.

Importing tobacco products

If you want to import tobacco products from other countries, it becomes liable for UK excise duty when it arrives in the UK. For Great Britain this covers imports from all non-UK countries. For Northern Ireland this covers all non-EU countries.

You will not need to pay excise duty at that point if it’s delivered:

  • to an excise warehouse approved for that purpose
  • to a customs warehouse which also has a separate excise warehouse approval for those premises
  • into your registered store if you’re a registered manufacturer

Read about importing excise goods from outside the EU.

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
Last updated 14 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. This page has been updated because the Brexit transition period has ended.

  2. First published.