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HMRC internal manual

Tobacco Products Duty

Registration: Conditions that apply to premises registered as 'open air' stores

The following additional conditions also apply to premises that are to be registered as an “open-air” store

  • The premises to be registered as an “open-air” store must be on land that is occupied by the manufacturer, although there need not be a registered factory on the same land.
  • The premises that are to constitute an “open-air” registered store must be enclosed by a wall or a fence at least 3 metres tall.
  • The boundary wall or fence demarcating the registered store must be robust, fixed into the ground and secure enough to prevent cases of tobacco product from being passed over, under or through or it. (This is intended to prevent the use of moveable fences or linked sectional grids. It is also the minimum level of physical perimeter security that is acceptable for an “open-air” store).
  • Any fence must consist of a heavy gauge metal grid/mesh small enough to prevent the removal of anything larger than individual retail packs of tobacco products. (Again this condition is intended to prevent the use of ‘token’ fences that would neither create “premises” that the Commissioners could register nor provide an adequate minimum, level of physical security).
  • The wall or fence demarcating the “open-air” registered store may, if necessary, also form part of the site perimeter fence provided that the Commissioners consider the particular premises to be secure and suitable for the safe storage of tobacco products. Any common wall or fence that both demarcates the “open-air” store and also forms part of the perimeter of the manufacturers whole site:
    • must be as high as the perimeter wall/fence if that is higher than 3 metres; and
    • may be required to be more substantial than the rest of the fence enclosing the store.
    • In addition, CCTV or other surveillance should allow detection of illicit entry or removal of tobacco products at any time of day or night.


  • Access and egress, to and from the registered store, must be controlled by the manufacturer.
  • The “open-air” store can only be used for the storage of tobacco products in road/rail/sea transport containers, unless additionally approved for the storage of “innocent” goods (see section 6.6 of Notice 476).
  • Tobacco products must be kept in uniquely identified transport containers within the registered “open-air” store. (Registered stores have clearly identified locations in which clearly identified pallets or cases of tobacco products are stored. This and the following four conditions are intended to ensure that a similarly adequate level of record keeping is maintained in ”open-air” registered stores).
  • The transport containers must be parked or placed within clearly and permanently marked locations within the “open-air” store.
  • The location of each transport container must be shown in the store records.
  • The pallets within the transport containers must be individually identified.
  • The contents of each separately identified transport container must be recorded in the store records down to pallet and case level.
  • Tobacco product, which the traders records show as being held in the “open-air” registered store, should not be held anywhere other than in that store. (This merely states the obvious but emphasises that “open-air” stores do not represent any weakening of the regulations concerning illicit removal or record keeping).