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HMRC internal manual

Tobacco Products Duty

Advice for Officers dealing with imported tobacco products: Sampling

Official sampling - size of case from which samples may be drawn.

The general guidance in C2-3 should be followed. For tobacco products other than cigarettes, you may draw samples from original packages provided that the gross weight of the package, after the sample has been drawn, is not reduced to less than 7 kilograms. For cigarettes, you may draw samples from original packages provided that the number of cigarettes in a package is not reduced to less than 5000 cigarettes.

Most tobacco product will be imported in retail packs containing either 25 gms or 50 gms of tobacco and 20 or 25 cigarettes. These will usually be packed in cases with a gross weight exceeding 7 kgs for tobacco or 5000 cigarettes. If the case size is less than this, you should regard the shrink wrapped pallet as the original package for sampling purposes. In other circumstances you should exercise local discretion, remembering that the sample must be representative of the consignment as a whole.

Official sampling - sample size

Wherever possible complete retail packs should be taken as samples. The minimum quantity taken as a sample should be 50 grams of tobacco or 40 cigarettes. No sample should exceed either 2 kilograms of tobacco or 1000 cigarettes. Samples should be taken in duplicate and wherever possible in the presence of the warehouse-keeper, importer or appointed agent, who may wish to take their own samples.

Trade sampling.

The trader may take samples for commercial testing subject to the following conditions:

  • samples must be destroyed during or following any test;
  • the samples must not be smoked or tasted/chewed by human beings;
  • TPD must be paid on any samples that are to be smoked, tasted or chewed by humans.

Where appropriate, the guidance in R6-1 (The Community System of Duty Reliefs -CDSR) Section 16 (Goods for examination, analysis or test) should be followed.

You should beware of excessive sampling. The trader should draw no more than the quantity required for the approved purpose. Further guidance on quantities and procedures can be found in Section 3 of X.42 (Excise Goods: Holding and Movement).