Tobacco Track & Trace Laws Come into Force

Retailers must now have unique codes in order to continue to purchase and store tobacco products under new track and trace laws that came into force from 20 May 2019.

The NFRN has produced a guide to help you prepare for the changes.

If you require further assistance, please email

The 20th May 2020 Deadline

From 20th May 2020, all cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco packaging must display the track and trace coding.  Stock acquired before 20th May 2019 that does not have the track and trace code must be sold or removed from sale and display before 20th May 2020.

Important – do you have your tobacco codes?

Retailers are reminded that from 20 May 2019 they must have an Economic Operator Identifier Code (EOIC) in order to continue to store and sell tobacco products under the new Track & Trace System.

If you haven’t got your code, you should immediately register to obtain an ID for your business. This can be done by going to the De La Rue ID issuer platform (the government appointed ID issuer) where you can create an account. To request the ID for your business (your ‘EOIC’), you will have to give information related to your address, country, type, as well as taxes and billing information.

Your registration will be validated within two working days. During that time, make sure you check your email inbox.

If you have a visual impairment or don’t have access to a computer, you can contact the De La Rue Customer Care Centre on 0843 462 0259.

Once your registration is validated, you will receive an email containing the economic operator ID, the confirmation code, and a link to define your password and to log in.

At that stage, you should go back to the De La Rue platform, log in, and request codes for each store you own and each premises you store tobacco products in. These codes are called ‘Facility Identifier Code’, or FIC.

The ‘Track & Trace System’, which says that each retailer must have valid IDs to purchase cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco products, will come into force on 20 May 2019. There will be a 12-month window for stocks of product manufactured/imported before 20 May 2019 to clear the system.

If you have any queries about your application please email

New communication tools launched to support you

With the registration process set to open for retailers on Tuesday 30 April 2019, HMRC and ID issuer De La Rue have published communication tools to help retailers register for the Track and Trace System for tobacco products.

Under the new system, cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco that were manufactured or imported into the EU before the 20 May 2019 can still be distributed and sold until 20 May 2020 without an ID. However, retailers will need to apply for IDs for their business and for each store they sell tobacco from if they want to purchase tobacco products after 19 May 2019.

Once registered via the ID Issuer Portal you will be able to download a copy of the User Guide and FAQs.

You can also access a short PDF here

If you have any queries please email

Register Now

Track & Trace – what you need to know

Further guidance on the new ‘Track & Trace’ system for tobacco products can be found below.

For advice on other tobacco law changes, visit our Tobacco Products Directive page.

Before 23 April 2019 – as soon as possible:

Talk to your wholesaler(s) to know if they agree to obtain IDs on your behalf. This service – if it is provided – is for free.

Wholesalers must inform you when they register you so you shouldn’t be registered twice. However, make sure you have this conversation when you talk to your wholesaler(s).

From 23 April 2019, two options:

  1. If your wholesaler agrees to obtain IDs on your behalf, check that they have done it before 30 April. Ultimately, obtaining the IDs is your responsibility. Check your email regularly, in case HMRC and contractor DeLaRue want to ask you further details.
  2. If none of your wholesalers agreed to obtain IDs on your behalf, you must register online. Registration opens on 30 April.

From 30 April 2019:

HMRC and De La Rue will open a portal for small retailers to register online.

Filling in the form should take about ten minutes. You will need to provide the following details:

Economic Operator: Address, Country, Type (retailer), VAT or Tax number, Excise number, Billing information (this is needed in the case of economic operator who will be ordering unique identifiers for tobacco packaging), Email, First name, Last name, Phone number.

Facility Details: Related EO (EOID), Address, Type (retails outlet), Tax (excise) warehouse status, Excise number.

If during the registration process you enter incorrect information, such as a VAT number, the application will be rejected.

HMRC and De La Rue will need to validate the information you’ve shared. If information are incorrect, you will receive an email stating the registration has been declined along with a reason.

Note: Check your email regularly. You may receive a message with a link to follow to complete the registration, and / or your codes.

10 May 2019

The codes are generated for you.

20 May 2019

The ‘Track and Track’ system enters into force.

If you have your IDs you will be able to continue purchasing cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco. You need an ID for your business and one for each facility you store or sell tobacco from – including your distribution centre, if you have one.

If you don’t have yours codes yet, you will be allowed to sell your existing stocks until 20 May 2020. However, you will no longer be able to purchase new stocks of tobacco products. If you wish to continue selling tobacco when your existing stocks are sold out, talk to your wholesalers as soon as possible.

HMRC and De La Rue are preparing communication to detail the registration process and the key timings. This communication will be released in the coming weeks.

What else do I need to know?

What does the law say?

From 20 May 2019, all unit packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco manufactured or imported in the EU (except for existing stock) must:

  • have Unique Identifiers (UIDs) on the packaging
  • have 5 specific security features on the packaging
  • and be scanned at certain points in the supply chain

Retailers will need to obtain:

  • An economic operator ID (for you business)
  • A separate facility IDs for each premises you use to:
    sell tobacco products to the public
    store tobacco products.

The regulatory changes derives from the Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU). The Directive provides for the establishment of an EU-wide ‘Track & Trace system’ for the legal supply chain of tobacco products and a system of security features to help citizens and authorities detect illicit products.

What are your obligations as a retailer?

Retailers wishing to continue selling tobacco products will need to have two IDs:

  • an economic operator ID
  • a separate facility IDs for each premises you use to:
    sell tobacco products to the public
    store tobacco products

You will not have to pay for IDs.

Retailers selling tobacco products and employing up to 50 people may ask their supplier to obtain an identification number on their behalf.

We don’t know yet the process for requesting codes. HMRC is expected to publish the details shortly.

You WILL NOT Need scanning equipment if...

You will not need any new equipment to manage the tobacco products in your store if you:

  • only sell tobacco products to the public
  • only receive the products in-store

You do not need to scan the products when they arrive at premises where they will only be sold to the public.

You WILL NEED scanning equipment if...

You will need scanning equipment if you:

  • store tobacco products at a different address to your shops
  • store, distribute or sell tobacco products to other retailers

Then you will need scanning equipment to record the movement of the products.

The tobacco industry will provide the equipment. Ask the importer or manufacturer of the products for more information.

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

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

You must send this information to the router created by the secondary repository within 24 hours. This will change to 3 hours from 20 May 2028.

You must scan tobacco products when they:

  • arrive at your premises
  • and leave your premises.

This includes when they are moved between premises that have a different facility ID.

Transporting Tobacco Products

You do not need to scan products if you transport products only and do not move them between vehicles.

However, you will need to scan tobacco products if you ‘transload’ them.

What is transloading?

  • moving tobacco products from one vehicle to another
  • when you know their final destination when you remove them from the vehicle

It means you will also have to scan products if you:

  • store products at a different address to your shops
  • distribute tobacco products within your business
  • sell tobacco products to other businesses

The products do not need to be placed onto another vehicle immediately, but there must be people or vehicles with the products at all times until they’re put onto another vehicle.

You must scan the products up to 24 hours before they’re transloaded. From 20 May 2028 you’ll need to scan them up to 3 hours before.

Contact the importer or manufacturer of the products who will provide you with scanning equipment.

Next Steps

Talk to your tobacco supplier about obtaining an identification number.

Talk to your supplier or manufacturer if you:

  • store, distribute or sell tobacco products to other retailers you will need to obtain equipment to record the movement of these products
  • transload tobacco products (cf. section ‘Transporting tobacco products’)
  • store them at a different address to their shops
Non Compliance

If you do not have the correct IDs, you will lose your ability to purchase tobacco products.

Under the proposals laid out by HMRC in its current consultation, you will also lose it if you have:

  • 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
  • received a fine of £10,000 or more for the sales of illicit products
  • a conviction for the sales of illicit goods under the Customs and Excise Acts
  • or if you haven’t used your IDs in the last 12-months


The dates you need to keep in mind when preparing for Track & Trace.

March/April 2019: The NFRN will update you when HMRC publishes processes to obtain ID codes and new equipment.

Spring 2019: HMRC is running a consultation a technical consultation on the draft Tobacco Products (Traceability and Security Features) Regulations 2019. The consultation closes on 11 March 2019. The NFRN will inform you of the consultation outcomes.

20 May 2019: Track & Trace starts being implemented. You must have received your ID codes and scanning equipment before that date.

20 May 2020: Retailers must have sold all tobacco products without security features or unique identifier codes.

20 May 2024: Track & Trace will apply to all products containing tobacco.

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