Track and Trace

The tobacco ‘track and trace’ regulations are part of the EU Revised Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU). The UK Government are in the process of introducing the ‘track and trace’ provisions of the Directive into UK law. These regulations will come into effect on 20th May 2019.

The UK’s exit from the European Union will have no impact on the regulations. Tobacco ‘track and trace’ will still come into effect on 20th May 2019.

What is track and trace?

From 20th May 2019, tobacco manufacturers will be required to provide unique identifier codes on cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco products.

Cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco must also be tracked through the supply chain. This means that distributors, wholesalers and retailers with distribution centres will be required to scan these products in and out of their warehouses.

When retailers are purchasing cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, they will be required to have an Economic Operator Identifier Code and a Facility Identifier Code so that the supplier can track the business and store that those products are moving to.

What do retailers need to do?

From 20th May, retailers must have an Economic Operator Identifier Code (registered to their business) and a Facility Identifier Code (for each store or premises which stores tobacco) to purchase cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco products with unique identifier codes.

To obtain an Economic Operator Identifier Code and Facility Identifier Codes, retailers must apply to a government appointed ID issuer before 20th May 2019. 

Retailers will have no obligation to scan or track tobacco products that they receive in-store. The supplier only has the requirement to scan cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco out of depot.

How can I apply for my codes?

There is still no information on when the application process will open or how retailers can apply for their codes.

The government have confirmed that the deadline to apply for codes will not be extended and that retailers must have their codes to purchase cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco with unique identifiers after 20th May 2019.

Do I need to have more than one code?

Yes.

Retailers must have an Economic Operator Identifier Code to register their business AND a Facility Identifier Code to register each of their stores or premises which stores tobacco. 

If you have multiple stores you should make sure that each store has its own Facility Identifier Code. If you have multiple stores and only have one Facility Identifier Code, you are in breach of the regulations. 

How much will it cost to apply for an Economic Operator Identifier Code and Facility Identifier Codes?

There are no fees to obtain an Economic Operator Identifier Code or Facility Identifier Code(s).

Can wholesalers apply for identifier codes on behalf of retailers?

Third parties, including wholesalers, can apply for the Economic Operator Identifier Code and Facility Identifier Code(s) on behalf of independent retailers. However, it is up to each wholesaler to determine whether they will offer this service to their customers and it is still the retailer’s responsibility to ensure that they have their identifier codes. 

Is it just manufacturers and wholesalers that are required to scan products? What do I need to do if I move tobacco products from one of my stores to another?

Retailers will have no obligation to scan or track tobacco products that they receive in-store.

The last movements that must be tracked is the sale from the manufacturer/wholesaler to the first retail outlet (to the first premises that sells directly to the consumer) when cigarette and hand-rolling tobacco products departs the warehouse or delivery vehicle.

This means that retailers will have no obligation to scan or track movements of their stock between stores in the same business.

Please note: Retailers who purchase cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco from their supplier and store it at a different address to their shops, will be required to have scanning equipment and track the movements of those products. For example, a retailer who stores cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco at storage facility at a different address to their shop would be required to scan and track movements of product, while a retailer who stores cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco in a lock up container at the back of their store would not be required to scan or track movements.

I store/distribute tobacco products within my business, what do I need to do?

If retailers store (at a different address to their shops) or distribute tobacco products within their business or sell cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco to other businesses, they will need to obtain equipment to record the movement of these products. The tobacco industry are responsible for providing the equipment and have appointed a third party provider ‘SGS’ to act as the single point of contact. To find out more information, such as how to work out what equipment is needed and how to obtain it, visit the SGS website at: https://ontrack.sgs.com/en-US/.

What happens if I don’t comply?

If a retailer does not have an Economic Operator Identifier Code and a Facility Identifier Code from 20th May 2019, they will not be able to purchase tobacco.

If retailers have identifier codes but breach their regulations, they could lose their ability to purchase tobacco. The government are currently proposing that the following circumstances of how a retailer could lose their Economic Operator Identifier Code

  • sold illicit tobacco on three or more occasions within any 12-month period, and as a result illicit tobacco has been seized
  • failed to rectify their non-compliance after being issued a compliance notice (for example, a retailer has not applied for a code)
  • a conviction for selling illicit goods under the customs and excise Acts
  • received a penalty exceeding £10,000 for selling illicit goods within the last 12 months
  • not used their identifier code in the last 12-months
  • has deliberately provided false information in an application to the UK ID Issuer for an identifier code 

Where can I get more information?

HMRC published information (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/selling-and-storing-tobacco-products) in January about how the upcoming regulations will affect retailers selling and storing tobacco products. The guidance also includes information for wholesalers which covers recording sales, scanning tobacco products and aggregating unit packs.

More information including how to apply for the identifier codes will be published shortly. 

ACS will be developing guidance to help retailers understand their legal requirements under the regulations.