Tobacco Products Duty

Tobacco products and airlines, ships, export stores and duty-free shops

If you want to be involved in the sales of duty-free or duty-paid tobacco products to passengers travelling to other countries, you may need approval from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and will need to follow specific rules and procedures.

Journeys between European Union (EU) countries

If you operate an airline or ship that travels between EU countries, and want to sell tobacco products to passengers on board the aircraft or ship for them to take away, you must apply to HMRC to become a Registered Mobile Operator.

Generally, for sales of tobacco made after a certain point en route from the UK to another EU country, you must account for duty to the tax authority in the destination country. You will be credited with the UK duty that's already been paid on the products.

You don't need to register as a Registered Mobile Operator if you only supply for onboard consumption, although you can't load tobacco products for consumption onboard an aircraft or any vessel where a no smoking policy applies.

There are also daily limits that apply to duty-free tobacco allowances for passengers and crew on board ship.

Download guidance on becoming a Registered Mobile Operator from the HMRC website (PDF, 174K).

Export shops

If you want to sell tobacco free of Tobacco Products Duty to passengers about to travel to a destination outside the EU, you need to be approved by HMRC to operate an 'export shop'.

An export shop is an excise warehouse that can hold tobacco products in duty suspension for sale to passengers travelling to a destination outside the EU. It can only be sited at an HMRC-designated port or airport and is usually located in the departure lounge after security controls.

Download Notice 197A on export shops from the HMRC website (PDF, 1.38MB).

Supplying tobacco to aircraft for duty-free sales

If you want to operate an excise warehouse to supply tobacco products in duty suspension to aircraft for duty-free sales, you need approval to operate an 'aircraft store floor'.

Duty-free aircraft stores

If you are an airline operator or agent, you can sell tobacco products free of Tobacco Products Duty to passengers or crew for them to take away on flights to destinations outside the EU. You must be supplied from an aircraft store floor and will need to follow certain rules and procedures.

Find out about operating a duty-free aircraft store in Notice 198 on the HMRC website.

Developed with:

HM Revenue & Customs