Manufacturing and importing tobacco products


Last updated 21 July 2022

All unit packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco manufactured or imported in the United Kingdom must:

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

Goods placed on the market before 1 January 2020

Goods placed on the market in the European Union or UK before 1 January 2021 can continue to move through the supply chain until they reach their end user.

This means tobacco product placed on the EU or UK market before 1 January 2021 can continue to be move through the UK supply chain without needing to replace the UIDs.

Businesses should continue to scan all products as they move through the UK. You will not need to differentiate between products placed on the market before or after 1 January 2021.

If you have any questions about products placed on the market moving through the EU or with a UID issued by an EU member state, you should contact the relevant authority in the EU member state.

Put security features on the packaging

You’ll need to find providers of five specific security features that must be on the packaging of all unit packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.

Get IDs for your business

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

Once registered you’ll be able to sign in to get:

  • machine IDs for all machines used in the manufacturing process
  • facility IDs for all premises where you manufacture, store or sell your products

You will not have to pay for these IDs.

Put UIDs on the packaging

For your products, you’ll need to get:

  • unit packet UIDs
  • aggregate UIDs

You’ll need to encode them into barcodes and put them on the packaging of your tobacco products.

Find out:

Aggregate UID specifications

Aggregate UIDs must meet one of the following standards (or their latest equivalents):

  • ISO 15459-1:2014
  • ISO 15459-4:2014

Record sales

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

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

You must send this information to the UK gateway within 24 hours.

If your business is involved in the supply of products to Northern Ireland, you must send this information to the UK gateway and the EU repository system.

Find out more about recording sales and the information you’ll need to send to the UK gateway.

Scan your products

You must scan your products when:

  • you apply the unit packet UID
  • you apply the aggregated packaging UID
  • they leave your premises
  • they arrive at your premises

Find out more about scanning and the information you’ll need to send to the UK gateway.

Get an anti-tamper device

You must have an anti-tamper device installed on your production line by 20 May 2019, unless:

  • your manufacturing process is fully manual
  • you’re a small or medium sized enterprise (see the EU definition of an SME) you must have the device installed by 20 May 2021

The device must verify that the unit packet UIDs have been applied correctly and can be scanned. It needs to record this information by either video or a log file that cannot be altered.

You must reapply a unit packet UID if the device confirms that it:

  • has been incorrectly applied
  • is not fully readable

The information recorded by the anti-tamper device must be:

  • kept for nine months
  • given to HMRC if they request it

The provider of the anti-tamper device must meet certain criteria for being independent from the tobacco industry.

If your anti-tamper device provider is no longer independent, HMRC will tell you how long you have to either:

Get data storage (Northern Ireland only)

You must appoint a provider of data storage, where the UIDs and recorded movements of your products will be stored.

The provider of the data storage must meet certain criteria for being independent from the tobacco industry.

You must tell the European Commission which data storage provider you intend to use, as they’ll need to approve it.

Appoint an auditor

You must appoint an independent auditor who will check that your data repository is protecting the data properly.

The auditor will need to be approved by the Commission, and send them annual reports.

More information about this will be published here.

Provide scanning equipment

You must provide all economic operators involved in the trade of your products, up to the first retailer, with equipment and software that:

  • can scan your products
  • electronically sends scanned information to the UK gateway, and the EU repository system for businesses involved in supplying products in NI

Transporting and transloading

Check what you need to do if you also transport or transload tobacco products.

Exporting tobacco products

If you manufacture tobacco products in the UK and export them, you:

  • need to put unit UIDs on the packaging
  • do not need to put the five security features on the packaging
  • should check the rules of the country you are exporting to

When you scan products the dispatch message will need to include the address of the destination instead of a facility ID code.

If the shipment weighs 10kg or less, and you export them using a service that will track the products, you need to scan the products when they enter the service’s tracking system and include the tracking number – they do not need to be scanned after that.