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HMRC internal manual

Tobacco Products Duty

Advice for Officers dealing with imported tobacco products: Retail unit system

This procedure may be applied to tobacco products received into an excise warehouse for:

  • direct shipment as stores;
  • export by post (beware of distance selling in the Single Market)
  • export as merchandise for use as ships’ stores in a ship abroad;
  • removal to a duty free shop; and
  • as exceptionally allowed for:
    1. removal under diplomatic privilege or visiting forces;
      1. removal to store floors or other warehouses for ships’ or aircraft stores only; and
      2. removal for rewarehousing for ships’ stores.

The accounts of tobacco products may, for convenience, be kept in terms of retail units. For this purpose ‘retail unit’ is defined as the normal type and size of package or container in which tobacco products are regularly put up for retail. (For example, packets of 20 or 50 cigarettes, and 25 gm or 50 gm of hand-rolling tobacco. For larger cigars the retail unit is usually the individual cigar.)

The retail unit system may be adopted when, on receipt of the tobacco products into the warehouse, the entry or relevant document is endorsed with a request to repack the products for use as stores.

The total number of units in any completed package or consignment may consist of more than one size of unit or more than one kind of tobacco product. For example:

  • one case containing 400 packets of 20 cigarettes and 200 tins of 50 cigarettes = 600 retail units; or
  • one case containing 250 packets of 20 cigarettes and 2 cabinets each of 50 cigars = 350 retail units.