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HMRC internal manual

Tobacco Products Duty

Advice for Officers dealing with imported tobacco products: Liability net weight for cigars, hand-rolling tobacco and chewing tobacco

Modern commercial practice is such that this section is unlikely to affect you but it is included for completeness.

The rather dated term ‘liability net weight’ refers to the net weight on which the specific duty for tobacco products, other than cigarettes, is charged. This can differ from the actual weight of the product at the time it is removed from the warehouse to home use. This difference in weights could arise because tobacco products can, theoretically, gain or lose weight as the result of drying or absorbing moisture from the atmosphere during transport or storage. In practice modern packing and commercial storage conditions make this very unlikely during the expected life of the product. Never the less, the trader should be allowed to weigh, for duty purposes, at any time from when the product first enters the warehouse up to the point when it is removed to home use.

To avoid the inconvenience and cost of several weighings and duty calculations, the trader may opt to accept liability for duty on the net weight of the tobacco products as determined by the first weighing in warehouse. That weight is known as the ‘liability net weight’ and stays with the products throughout their time in duty suspension, subject to the following conditions.

  • If tobacco products for which a trader has undertaken a net weight liability are removed from one warehouse to another, the liability continues at the warehouse of receipt and any other warehouse to which the products may be removed.
  • If ownership of the tobacco products changes, the new owner must accept the net weight liability.
  • If tobacco products for which a trader has undertaken a net weight liability are operated on, the liability net weight must be accounted for in that operation. This is achieved by attaching the balance of the liability net weight to the final package resulting from the operation. The trader may discharge the obligation to pay duty on the liability net weight by weighing the tobacco products and any waste material and paying duty on the difference, if any, between the total net weight and the original liability net weight. The warning in Section TPD19070, concerning operations touching on manufacture, should also be borne in mind.

For advice on sampling see Section TPD19180.