Detailed guide: Selling and storing tobacco products

All unit packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco manufactured or imported in the UK (except for stock manufactured or imported before 20 May 2019) must:

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

If you only sell to the public

If you’re the first in the supply chain to make tobacco products available for sale to the public (including vending machine owners), you’re classed as the ‘first retailer’.

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

Once registered you’ll be able to 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 a premises only sells 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 for you, 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 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 outside the EU.

Moving products between retail outlets

If you’re a retailer, when 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, for any reason, 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 ID issuer to get an economic operator ID.

Once registered you’ll be able to 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.

Recording sales

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

  • issue an order number
  • generate an invoice
  • receive payment

If you’re a manufacturer or importer you must submit this information to your primary repository.

If you’re not a manufacturer or importer you should submit this information to the router created by the secondary repository.

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 both:

  • the event has taken place
  • you know which UID codes correspond to the event

Find out how to submit this information to the router in the list of specifications on the secondary repository website.

The time for sending this information will change to 3 hours from 20 May 2028. More information will be published here.

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.

If you’re a manufacturer or importer you must submit this information to your primary repository.

If you’re not a manufacturer you should submit this information to the router created by the 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

Find out how to submit this information to the router in the list of specifications on the secondary repository website.

The time for scanning after products arrive at your premises will change to 3 hours from 20 May 2028. More information will be published here.

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

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

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

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 ID 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.