Guidance

Selling and storing tobacco products

What you need to do if you sell or store tobacco products in the UK.

All unit packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco manufactured or imported in the UK must:

From May 2024, this will apply to all tobacco products.

If you only sell to the public

You’ll need to register with the UK ID issuer to get an economic operator ID.

Once registered you must sign in to get:

  • separate facility IDs for each premises you use to:

    • sell tobacco products to the public

    • store tobacco products

  • separate facility IDs for each tobacco vending machine

If you only sell tobacco products using a vending machine, then the premises does not need a facility ID. Only the vending machine does.

You will not have to pay for IDs.

Another economic operator, like your wholesaler, can offer to request an economic operator ID and facility IDs on your behalf, but it’s your responsibility to make sure you have them.

You do not have to scan tobacco products if you only make them available for sale to the public. If you store tobacco products in separate premises, you’ll need to get scanning equipment and software, and scan the products.

Distance sales

If you deliver products directly to your customers, the first retail outlet for your business is the final premises before the products are dispatched to the customer.

If you sell products to customers in other countries you will need to make sure the products sold carry the security feature of the country where the customer lives, not the UK security features.

Check what you need to do if you export tobacco products.

Moving products between retail outlets

If you’re a retailer buying tobacco products, you must tell your supplier the retail outlet where they will be made available to the customer.

If you need to move the products to another retail outlet after buying them, you do not need to scan the products as long as they were made available at the original outlet.

If you store, distribute or sell to retailers

You’ll need to register with the UK ID issuer to get an economic operator ID.

Once registered you must sign in to get separate facility IDs for each premises you use to:

  • sell tobacco products to retailer

  • sell tobacco products to the public

  • store tobacco products

You will not have to pay for IDs.

You’ll also need scanning equipment and software to scan tobacco products - ask the importer or manufacturer of the products for more information.

If you sell to both retailers and the public in one premises

You will need to request 2 facility IDs for your premises:

  • one for sales to retailers

  • one for sales to the general public

If you store products for retailers and the public together:

  • you will need to store all products under your facility ID for sales to retailers

  • when a product is sold to the public, you must first scan a movement from your retailer sales facility ID to the general public sales facility ID

If you store products for retailers and the public separately, products should be stored under the separate facility IDs.

Ask the importer or manufacturer of the products for more information about getting scanning equipment and software.

Recording sales

You’ll need to record when, for a specific product, you:

  • issue an order number

  • generate an invoice

  • receive payment

All UK businesses must submit this information to the UK Gateway.

If you supply products in Northern Ireland, you also need to submit this information to the EU system. Find out how to submit this information through the EU router in the list of specifications on the EU system website.

If you’re a buying group you’ll need to submit this information when you re-invoice your retailers. This includes the UIDs of the products.

You’ll need to submit the following information based on the message type.

Information to send Format of information Order number Invoice Payment
Your identity Economic Operator ID Code Yes Yes Yes
When the event happened Time Yes Yes Yes
Invoice details Invoice number, date, type No Yes Yes, invoice number only
Seller information Economic Operator ID code No Yes Yes
Buyer information Economic Operator ID code, or company details if outside the UK No Yes Yes
Order details Purchase order number, date Yes No No
Payment details Payment method, amount, date, currency No No Yes
Product details List of tobacco product identifiers, tobacco product numbers and the prices for the products covered by the invoice No Manufacturer or importer only No
Invoice value Total net amount of the invoice and the currency No Yes No
UIDs List of all UIDs covered at the highest level of aggregation Yes Yes Yes

If you take credit as payment for tobacco products, you will need to select ‘other’ as payment type, and enter ‘credit’ into the comments field.

You must send this information within 24 hours from when the event has taken place and you know which UID codes correspond to the event

If your business is involved in supplying products in the UK, find out how to submit information to the UK Gateway in the list of specifications you can find on the ID issuer dashboard.

If your business is involved in supplying products in Northern Ireland, find out how to submit this information to the EU router in the list of specifications on the secondary repository website.

Scanning tobacco products

You must scan tobacco products when they:

  • arrive at your premises

  • leave your premises

This includes when they are moved between premises that have a different facility ID. You’ll need to know the facility ID for the premises they’re going to.

You do not need to scan them when they arrive at premises where they’ll only be sold to the public.

All UK businesses must submit this information to the UK Gateway.

Businesses in Northern Ireland will also need to submit information to the EU system. If you are a manufacturer or importer you must submit this information to your primary repository. All other Northern Ireland businesses should submit it to the router established by the operator of the EU secondary repository.

You’ll need to submit the following information, based on the message type.

Information to send Format of information Arrival at premises Leaving premises
Your identity Economic operator code Yes Yes
When the event took place Time Yes Yes
Your premises Facility ID code Yes Yes
Destination Facility ID code Yes Yes
Transport method List of vehicle types, vehicle identifiers, for example licence plate No Yes
Container details Individual transport unit code - if this applies No Yes
Excise and Customs movement details ARC code, SAAD reference number, MRN number - only where they apply No Yes
Indication of product return Confirmation if the products arriving are a return from an earlier delivery Yes No
UID codes List of all UIDs covered at the highest level of aggregation Yes Yes

You must send this information:

  • within 24 hours before products leave your premises

  • within 24 hours after products arrive at your premises

If your business supplies products in the UK, find out how to submit this information to the UK gateway in the list of specifications you can find on the ID issuer dashboard.

If your business supplies products in Northern Ireland, find out how to submit this information to the EU system in the list of specifications on the secondary repository website.

Ask the importer or manufacturer of the products for more information about getting scanning equipment and software.

Check what you need to do if you’re exporting the products.

Lost, stolen or destroyed tobacco products

If the products are lost, stolen or destroyed, you’ll need to submit the following information to the router to deactivate the product UIDs:

  • your economic operator ID

  • the type (unit or aggregate) of UIDs that need deactivating

  • a list of the UID codes that needed deactivating

  • whether the products were stolen, destroyed, or need to be deactivated for another reason

If your business supplies products in the UK, find out how to submit this information to the UK gateway in the list of specifications you can find on the ID issuer dashboard.

If your business supplies products in Northern Ireland, find out how to submit this information to the router in the list of specifications on the secondary repository website.

Aggregating unit packets

If you aggregate products (for example, combine unit packets from different pallets onto one pallet), you’ll need to:

  1. Register with the UK UID issuer to buy aggregate UIDs, or generate one yourself - the UID must meet certain standards.

  2. Encode the aggregate UID so it can be scanned.

  3. Put the new aggregate UID on the aggregated packaging.

  4. Link the aggregate UIDs to the unit packets inside.

  5. Scan the aggregate UID when you disaggregate products if you intend to use it again.

Published 29 January 2019
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. This page has been updated because the Brexit transition period has ended.

  2. Information about what you need to do if you buy tobacco products for other businesses but do not store them has been added.

  3. Information about what to do if tobacco products are lost, stolen or destroyed has been added.

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

  5. Details of the types of information that must be sent to repositories has been added to this guidance.

  6. First published.