Guidance

Put unique identifiers (UIDs) on your tobacco products

Check what UIDs you need for your tobacco products and the specifications they need to meet.

For cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco that you’ll manufacture or import in the UK from 1 January 2021, you’ll need to get:

The UIDs you buy can be a physical code or a digital code if you need to pair this with another country’s UID.

The UIDs you buy or generate will be codes of letters and numbers. From those codes, you’ll need to create scannable barcodes and put them on the packaging of your tobacco products. You can add ‘TTT’ next to the UID barcode to tell them apart from other barcodes on the packaging.

What you must put on the packaging

So that your products can be scanned at certain points in the supply chain, you must put a unit pack UID on every unit packet. This must be verified by an anti-tamper device.

The UK UID can be a physical code or a digital code if you need to pair this with another country’s UID. For more information contact the UK ID Issuer by:

You can put aggregate UIDs on anything that holds more than one unit packet. You need to link these to the unit packets that it contains.

You must also put the UID code on the packaging in human readable form. This should be next to the UID barcode on the packaging if possible.

Examples of what can be classed as ‘aggregated packaging’ include:

  • cartons
  • master cases
  • pallets
  • trailers
  • shipping containers

Aggregate UID specifications

If you generate your own aggregate UIDs, they must meet one of the following standards (or their latest equivalents):

  • ISO 15459-1:2014
  • ISO 15459-4:2014

UID barcode specifications

Unit and aggregate UIDs must be encoded to at least one of the following types of barcode:

Barcode Type of UID Specifications ISO standard
Data Matrix Unit and aggregate Error detection and correction equivalent to, or higher than those of the Data Matrix ECC200. ISO/IEC 16022:2006
QR Code Unit and aggregate Recovery capacity of approximately 30% with the error correction level H. ISO/IEC 18004:2015
DotCode Unit Error detection and correction equivalent to, or higher than those provided with the Reed-Solomon error correction algorithm, with the number of check characters (NC) equal to 3 plus the number of data characters (ND) divided by 2 (NC = 3 + ND/2). ISS DotCode Symbology Specification published by the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM) in revision 3.0, August 2014.
Code 128 Aggregate Error detection equivalent to or higher than the one provided with the algorithm based on the even/odd – bar/space character parity and the check character. ISO/IEC 15417:2007

You must make sure the quality of the barcodes are rated at least 3.5 in accordance with ISO/IEC 15415:2011.

Published 22 February 2019
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. This page has been updated because the Brexit transition period has ended.

  2. You can now register with the ID issuer and buy UIDs for your tobacco products. Links to new guidance about this has been added.

  3. First published.