Cross-border distance sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes: registration guide
Updated 31 December 2020
Changes to the requirement to register
The requirement to register for cross-border distance sales (CBDS) to and from the UK will change after the end of the UK’s transition period with the EU on 31 December 2020.
Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the European Union’s (EU) Tobacco Products Directive will continue to apply in respect of Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period. This means retailers making cross-border distance sales into, or out of Northern Ireland are required to register to supply tobacco products and e-cigarettes (including e-liquids, refill containers, devices and components).
This includes retailers in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) selling to customers in Northern Ireland and retailers in Northern Ireland selling to customers in EU member states.
Retailers located outside of Northern Ireland (including those based in Great Britain), who want to sell to customers in Northern Ireland must also register with Public Health England (PHE). Retailers located in Great Britain who want to sell to customers in other EU member states must register with that member state’s relevant competent authority.
Registration is a requirement under Part 8 of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) 2016.
Whether or not a retailer needs to register for CBDS depends on the location of the retailer and their customers. Retailers located in Northern Ireland must continue to complete the registration process with PHE before making CBDS to customers in EU member states. Retailers based anywhere outside of Northern Ireland selling to customers in Northern Ireland must also register with PHE, the UK competent authority.
From 1 January 2021, retailers located in Great Britain are no longer required by the TRPR to register with PHE for CBDS into EU member states or states in the European Economic Area (EEA), but they must register if they intend to make CBDS into Northern Ireland. However, retailers in Great Britain must register their intention to sell into any EU member state or state in the EEA with that relevant country’s competent authority.
Retailers do not need to complete the PHE registration form if they are:
- located in Great Britain and selling to consumers outside Northern Ireland
- located in Northern Ireland and selling only to consumers in Northern Ireland
- located in Northern Ireland and selling only to consumers in Great Britain or other countries that are not in the EU
Where retailers are required to register with PHE (the UK’s competent authority), they must complete the registration form which will submit their information to PHE.
PHE will review registrations for compliance with the regulations. This includes the description of the electronic age verification system used to confirm the consumers’ age is above the minimum age for purchasing these products in the state where the customer is located.
Retailers must not make CBDS to a consumer located in an EU member state or a state in the EEA where CBDS are prohibited.
Registration is not required by retailers which trade exclusively with other retailers.
The table below shows whether or not a retailer needs to register with PHE for CBDS, depending on where they and their customers are based.
|Retailer’s location||Customer’s location||Is CBDS registration required?|
|Great Britain||Northern Ireland||Yes|
|Northern Ireland||EU member state||Yes|
|EU member state, EEA state and third country||Northern Ireland||Yes|
Confirmation of registration
PHE will send retailers an email within 30 days of submitting the CBDS registration form.
PHE is required to publish compliant registered retailers’ trading names and website addresses.
Registration forms submitted by retailers who are not required to do so will be rejected and not published.
From 1 January 2021, PHE will publish an updated registrations list, based upon this guidance and in line with the regulations.
If the submitted information does not comply with the TRPR, PHE will contact the retailer about it.
States that permit cross-border distance sales of tobacco and e-cigarette products
Retailers in the UK who want to make CBDS to EU member states or countries in the EEA should contact the competent authority for that state before selling to consumers located there.
The table below shows the EU member states and EEA countries that have confirmed whether or not they permit CBDS of tobacco and e-cigarette products. It also shows the website or contact details for those countries, for retailers to register for CBDS.
Retailers who intend to trade in countries where the sales confirmation, registration website or contact details are yet to be confirmed in the table below should contact the relevant national authorities before supplying their products.
Where states have not permitted CBDS, it will break the law to sell tobacco and e-cigarette products to customers in those countries.
|Member state||CBDS of tobacco||CBDS of e-cigarettes||Website for registration or contact details|
|Denmark||Yes||Yes||Tobacco products: www.danishbusinessauthority.dk/retailers-tobacco-products-cross-border-distance-sales
|Slovakia||Yes||Yes||Postal address: Slovak Trade Inspection, Prievozská 32 827 99, Bratislava 27|
|Sweden||Yes||Yes||Tobacco products: firstname.lastname@example.org
|United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland)||Yes||Yes||www.gov.uk/government/publications/tobacco-products-and-e-cigarette-cross-border-sales-registration|