Guidance

Security features you must put on tobacco product packaging

Check what security features you’ll need put on tobacco product packaging from 20 May 2019.

If you manufacture or import cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco in the EU, at least 5 security features must be on the packaging from midnight on 20 May 2019.

You need to find providers of the security features - they must match HMRC’s specifications.

From 20 May 2024, the 5 security features must be on the packaging of all products containing tobacco.

Security features

You must put the 5 security features below on all unit packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco - you can only put the security features on the cellophane wrapper if a mark is left when the wrapper is removed.

Security feature Description
Colour changing ink Reveals changing colours when viewed from different angles.
Guilloche pattern Ornamental pattern of 2 or more interlaced bands that are printed in multiple non-standard colours.
Microprint Print using extremely small text that requires magnification to become readable by the naked eye.
Anti-stoke ink An anti-stoke ink that does not rely on florescence or illumination and requires a purpose built tool or a laboratory to be detected.
Molecular taggant Chemical marker, embedded within the base material that requires purpose built tools or a laboratory to be detected.

The guilloche pattern will be provided by HMRC and is classed as being independent from the tobacco industry.

HMRC will email you the design and specifications for the other security features.

Published 20 September 2018
Last updated 16 January 2019 + show all updates
  1. Some security feature requirements have changed. The unique identifier (UID) has also been replaced with colour changing ink in the list of security features that must be put on tobacco product packaging from 20 May 2019.
  2. First published.