This notice explains the Tobacco Products Manufacturing Machinery Licensing Scheme.
Excise Notice 209: Civil penalties: fixed, geared and daily
Excise Notice 476: Tobacco Products Duty
Excise Notice 2003: Tobacco Products Duty
1.1 What this notice is about
This notice tells you about the Tobacco Products Manufacturing Machinery Licensing Scheme. From 1 August 2018 anyone who carries out a regulated activity must be licensed with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) unless an exemption applies.
A regulated activity is to manufacture, purchase, acquire, own, or be in possession of an item of tobacco products manufacturing machine.
A tobacco products manufacturing machine is a machine that is designed primarily to be used for the purpose of (or for purposes including) manufacturing tobacco products.
This notice will help you to understand:
- what constitutes tobacco products manufacturing machinery
- how to apply for a licence
- whether you are exempt from the requirement to hold a licence
- the conditions and restrictions that apply to a licence
- what records you’ll need to keep
- the sanctions and penalties that could be imposed for failing to comply with the scheme
1.2 Who should read this notice
You should read this notice if you will be carrying out a regulated activity in the UK on or after 1 August 2018. This is because, unless an exemption applies, you will need to apply for a licence and hold a valid one in time for 1 August 2018.
Legislation applicable to the contents of this notice is:
- the Tobacco Products Duty Act 1979 (TPDA 1979) (as amended by the Finance (No.2) Act 2017)
- the Manufacturing Machinery (Licensing Scheme) Regulations 2018
- the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA 1979)
1.4 Contacts for further advice
If you do not already have existing formal arrangements for contacting HMRC you should contact the enquiries helpline on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
2.1 The purpose of the scheme
There is a risk that Excise Duty is evaded due to the illegal manufacture of tobacco products. The scheme has been introduced to control tobacco products manufacturing machinery in order to further:
- reduce the risk of Excise Duty evasion
- prevent the illegal manufacture of tobacco products
2.2 Who is affected
From 1 August 2018, all businesses and individuals in the UK who carry out a regulated activity are affected by the scheme.
This will include tobacco product manufacturers, tobacco products machinery manufacturers, retailers and repair shops. It is expected that importers, exporters and brokers of tobacco products machinery will also need to obtain a licence as the nature of their business means that they will be carrying out a regulated activity under the scheme.
2.3 Definition of tobacco products manufacturing machinery
A tobacco products manufacturing machine is any machine that is designed primarily for the purpose of (or for purposes including) manufacturing tobacco products.
The following are examples, and the list is not exhaustive:
- makes more than one cigarette or cigar without the need to be reloaded with paper or tobacco
- tobacco cutting/shredding/threshing or pressing equipment
- any machine commercially marketed for the purpose of making a tobacco product or in the preparation of tobacco to be used in the production of tobacco product
Disassembled machines or ‘kits’ that when assembled would create an item of tobacco products manufacturing machinery are captured under the above definition.
2.4 Definition of a regulated activity
The following activities are classified as regulated activities:
- manufacturing tobacco products manufacturing machinery
- purchasing or acquiring tobacco products manufacturing machinery
- owning or being in possession of tobacco products manufacturing machinery
The scheme provides two exemptions from the licensing requirements where the regulated activity taking place is considered to be low risk.
3.1 Exemption for manually operated machinery
You do not need a licence if you conduct a regulated activity only involving machinery that meets all of the following criteria:
- requires tobacco and paper to be loaded manually
- makes cigarettes and cigars only by manual operation
- makes only one cigarette or cigar before it requires further loading
3.2 Exemption for the transport of machinery in certain circumstances
You do not need a licence if you are in possession of tobacco products manufacturing machinery for the sole purpose of transporting it on behalf of a licensee. The transportation must be made in accordance with the conditions and restrictions specified on the licence held by the licensee for that machine.
Before the movement takes place the licensee must record details of the movement, these should include:
- name of the transporter
- vehicle details
- licence and machine details including serial numbers
- destination (including Unique Licence Number (ULN) of recipient if appropriate)
- the proposed route
- any scheduled stops or storage locations as per licence details
- customs import or export reference declarations, if applicable
The licensee is obliged to retain such records and to provide copies to the transporter as proof that the movement is legitimate. Failure to retain such records may mean the machinery becomes liable to forfeiture.
4. Applying for a licence
If you intend to carry out a regulated activity on or after 1 August 2018, you will require a licence.
HMRC will begin accepting licence applications from 1 April 2018 in order that anybody who is likely to be conducting a regulated activity after 1 August 2018 can be licenced from the commencement of the scheme.
HMRC advises you to submit your licence application at least 45 working days before you commence any regulated activity. This should allow HMRC enough time to process your application and issue your licence.
HMRC may need longer to consider complex applications, for example those involving multiple regulated activities, machines or locations. In such cases you may want to allow longer than 45 days for your application to be considered. Having an application under consideration will not be sufficient to allow you to conduct a regulated activity.
The consequences of carrying on a regulated activity without being licensed to do so by HMRC are set out in section 8 and section 9 of this notice.
4.1 How to apply
You’ll need to write a letter to apply to the scheme. Send your written application to:
Tobacco Products Manufacturing Machine Scheme
Excise Processing Teams
You must clearly mark your letter as being an application to the Tobacco Products Manufacturing Machine Licensing Scheme.
4.2 Information you’ll need to provide when you apply for a licence
If you’re applying to carry out a regulated activity as part of your business, then your application must provide:
- the business’ trading name and its legal name
- location of principal place of business
- contact telephone number and email address
- VAT registration number, if applicable
- your estimated annual turnover (for new businesses)
If your business is registered at Companies House, you’ll also need to include:
- its registration number, with its registered address
- the names, addresses, and National Insurance numbers for all directors, members and partners as appropriate
- any delegated legal representatives
If you’re applying to carry out a regulated activity as an individual then your application must provide:
- date of birth
- National Insurance number
- Self Assessment or Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number, if applicable
- passport details, if applicable
- contact telephone number and email address
- details of any unspent criminal convictions for any offence of dishonesty or for any offence linked to organised crime (an ‘unspent’ conviction is one that hasn’t expired under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974)
4.3 Additional information required
Whether you’re applying on behalf of a business or as an individual your written application must also contain the following details:
- the regulated activities you intend to conduct
- any existing excise approval numbers issued by HMRC
- the tobacco products manufacturing machines relating to these regulated activities – this should include, a description of the machines, the products it/they manufacture, serial numbers, and the estimated daily production capacity for each machine
- for machines sourced from within the UK after 1st August 2018 the ULN of the machines previous licensee
- for machines sourced outside the UK after 1st August 2018 details of the country of origin, suppliers name and any supplier registration number that may be applicable in that country
- addresses of premises where each machine will be held
If the regulated activity you wish to conduct involves the manufacture of tobacco products then you must be approved by HMRC to operate a registered tobacco factory. You should hold such a registration before applying for a licence under the Tobacco Products Manufacturing Machinery Scheme and provide details of that registration on your application. Further details on registering tobacco manufacturing premises can be found in Excise Notice 476: Tobacco Products Duty.
The person submitting the application must declare that all the information stated in the application is true and complete. If the application is made by a corporate body, the declaration must be made by a director.
HMRC may ask you for additional information following your initial application.
5. The application process
When HMRC receives your application they’ll check it has been completed correctly and in full. If it’s incomplete, or is in any way unclear, they’ll ask you to supply missing details or clarify certain information. HMRC won’t be able to process your application until that has been done.
HMRC will then perform checks to confirm the information you have given is full and accurate and that you’re suitable for approval. This will involve checks of their records to find out whether you have been compliant with your tax obligations and, in the case of a corporate body, are likely to include checks with Companies House.
HMRC may undertake checks with other government departments and agencies, and credit reference agencies. HMRC will also check the criminal records of applicants for any relevant convictions.
HMRC may need to visit you and your premises to discuss your regulated activities. They’ll ask you for details about (but not limited to) your:
- the regulated activity
- how the machinery will be used
- business plan (new businesses)
- bank accounts and affiliates
- accounting and stock control systems, if applicable
- premises security, if applicable
For further information on what to expect, read General information about compliance checks: CC/FS1a.
If HMRC discovers that the information you have given to them is untrue or incomplete, your application may be refused. You may be prosecuted if you apply for approval by giving false information.
If HMRC checks don’t provide sufficient assurance that you’re suitable to be approved, they may ask you for more information. Until this information is received and verified, your application won’t be processed further.
5.1 The fit and proper test
An applicant must be a fit and proper person to carry out a controlled activity. HMRC must also be satisfied that a controlled activity will not be carried out for the purpose of, or with a view to, the fraudulent evasion of Excise Duty charged on tobacco products.
In order to be satisfied HMRC will consider various criteria such as any evidence of illicit trading by the applicant, or in the case of a corporate body, by those who control it. Checks will be made to ensure that the application does not put the revenue at risk, or commit fraud.
Whilst each application will be decided on its own merits, HMRC will consider in particular:
- assessments for Excise Duty that are unpaid or other under-declarations of tax that suggest there’s a significant risk that the applicant would be prepared to conduct illicit tobacco products manufacture
- penalties for wrongdoing or other civil penalties, which suggest the applicant does not have a responsible outlook to tax obligations
- previous occasions where approvals have been revoked or refused for this or other regimes
- previous confiscation orders and recovery proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Acts
- if any of the key persons have been disqualified as a director under the company directors disqualification legislation in force at the time
HMRC will check there are no connections between the applicant, and key persons controlling the applicant in the case of a corporate applicant, with other persons who have not acted in compliance with the scheme or who have been found guilty of a criminal offence in relation to any excise regimes.
Further checks HMRC would consider are that:
- the application is accurate and complete and there has been no attempt to deceive
- there haven’t been persistent or negligent failures to comply with any HMRC record keeping requirements in spite of warnings or absence of key business records
- the applicant, or for corporate applicants key persons in the business, have not previously attempted to avoid being approved or traded unapproved, or both
- there are no outstanding, unmanaged HMRC debts or a history of poor payment
Where the applicant for a licence is a business, the business must be commercially viable and credible. HMRC is unlikely to provide a licence where there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that there’s a genuine plan to legitimately trade from the proposed date of the licence taking effect.
HMRC may refuse to provide a licence for reasons other than those listed if they have justifiable concerns about the applicant’s suitability to carry out a regulated activity.
HMRC is also unlikely to issue a licence if the applicant has previously had their application for a licence refused and the reasons for that refusal are still relevant.
5.2 What is meant by key persons
Key persons are those who play a key role in the operation of the business to the extent that they can be seen as one of its guiding minds.
For example, they have authority and responsibility for directing and controlling the activities of the business or day to day management. It also includes significant beneficiaries of the business who are not directors or partners.
5.3 If your application details change
You must tell HMRC about any changes or inaccuracies in the information supplied on your application for approval immediately. You must contact the Excise Processing Team or the local Customs and International Trade and Excise (CITEX) Officer who is dealing with your application.
5.4 Application refusals
HMRC may refuse to issue a licence if they have justifiable concerns about your suitability to be licensed to carry out a regulated activity.
If HMRC refuses your licence application they will write to you to confirm the refusal and explain the reasons for the refusal.
If you’re not satisfied with HMRC’s decision, you can ask them for a review, or appeal. The appeal process is set out at section 9.
If your application is rejected you may be able to apply for a temporary approval whilst you seek a review or appeal of that decision.
6. Post approval for a licence
6.1 If your application for a licence is approved by HMRC
You will receive a licence letter in the post. This will contain details of all regulated activities, machines and addresses for which the licence applies. It will also confirm:
- the name and address of the licensee and, in the case of a company, the company registration number
- a ULN
- details of each regulated activity permitted
- a description of each item of tobacco products manufacturing machinery in respect of which the licence is granted
- a Specific Identification Number (SIN) allocated for each machine covered by the ULN
- the addresses at which these machines will be kept,
- the date on which the licence will expire
- any conditions or restrictions to which the licence is subject
You must inform HMRC immediately if any details recorded on the licence you receive are incorrect.
6.2 Maintaining your licence details
As a licence holder it is your responsibility to ensure the details shown on your licence are correctly maintained. Failure to do so could result in machines you hold being seized or with you being held liable for penalties.
You must inform HMRC about any proposed changes to the licence holder or regulated activities shown in section 2.4 at least 45 days before you want the change to come into effect.
HMRC will consider your request to vary your licence. Depending on the changes proposed it may be necessary for HMRC to carry out further checks to ensure the licence criteria is met. If these checks are completed satisfactorily HMRC will issue an updated licence.
6.3 Adding machines to your licence
Your licence only allows you to carry out regulated activities for the machinery listed on it. If you intend to carry on a regulated activity with a machine not currently listed then you need to apply to HMRC for the new details to be added to your licence. This may be due to a machine being manufactured, purchased, acquired, leased or imported.
If you wish to add a machine to your licence you must provide the details in section 4.3 to HMRC at least 45 days before undertaking a regulated activity with the new machine.
Undertaking a regulated activity with a machine that is not listed on your licence could result in the machine being liable to seizure and forfeiture. You may also be liable to a penalty.
6.4 Removing machines from your licence
You may need to remove a machine from your licence if you no longer intend undertaking a regulated activity with it. This may be due to its sale, export or destruction. Failure to remove a machine from your licence could result in you being held liable to a penalty if that machine is then found to be manufacturing illicit tobacco product as you may still be responsible for it.
If you wish to remove a machine from your licence you must notify HMRC in writing at least 45 days before its intended removal, the following will be required:
- your ULN
- the specific identification number which has been assigned to the machine by HMRC
- the intended date of sale/export or destruction
- the ULN of the purchaser if they are in the UK
- for machines exported out of the UK, details of the country of destination, recipient name and any machinery registration number that may be applicable in that country.
- the ULN of the business destroying the machine, if applicable
- the address where the machine will be delivered to and destroyed, if applicable
In the case of destruction or export HMRC may want the opportunity to inspect the machine and any accompanying documentation.
Once the machine has been destroyed, evidence of destruction must be obtained from the business completing the destruction and held as proof of destruction. This must be available upon request from HMRC.
If there is no notification of a machine’s destruction to HMRC and no evidence of that destruction has taken place then you may be liable to a penalty.
Details of your ULN and the SIN for the machine must travel with the machine and be available upon request.
Records of any movement and any destruction should be retained in line with the guidance at section 7.5.
7. Licence conditions, restrictions and responsibilities
Once you have been granted a licence you must comply with the conditions and restrictions detailed in this notice. In addition, HMRC may decide to apply specific conditions or restrictions where they consider some additional controls are still needed.
For example HMRC may set conditions in relation to premises security and storage for machinery that is considered to be high risk.
7.1 Responsibilities after you have received your licence
HMRC will need to be made aware if there are going to be any changes to the following:
- a change to the business name or legal entity
- any changes to departmental registration or approval numbers
- any changes to directors, shareholders or key personnel, as previously detailed in the original application for a licence
- the manufacture, purchase, sale, export or destruction of tobacco products machinery
- a change of address of the machine
Details of these changes should be submitted to HMRC at least 45 days before they take place to allow HMRC time to consider any request to amend your licence as a consequence of the changes and decide whether or not to agree to it. It is also possible that additional conditions may be imposed, or if as a result of the changes the holder is no longer a fit and proper person that the licence may be withdrawn.
7.2 Transporting tobacco products manufacturing machinery
From 1 August 2018 you must ensure details of the ULN and the appropriate SIN(s) accompany any transportation of tobacco products machinery within the United Kingdom.
If you are moving machinery that is already specified on your licence between premises that are covered by your licence, you must ensure details of your ULN and the appropriate SIN accompany the transportation.
If you are importing a machine from outside the UK then you should have contacted HMRC about an intended change to your licence in line with a section 6.3 and been provided with an updated written licence. Details of your ULN and the appropriate new SIN should accompany the machine during its transportation. Delivery of the machine may only be made to an address specified on your licence.
If you are exporting an existing machine listed on your licence then you should have contacted HMRC about an intended change to your licence in line with a section 6.4 and been provided with an updated written licence. Details of your ULN, the overseas recipients, export documentation and the appropriate old SIN should accompany the machine during its transportation.
These numbers will be used to verify that a valid licence is held in respect of the machine and that the machine is moving in accordance with the terms of the appropriate licences.
7.3 Obtaining a new machine
If you are licensed for a regulated activity involving a tobacco products manufacturing machine then you are required to provide your ULN to your supplier whenever you purchase a new machine after 1 August 2018 and for all purchases after that date.
If your tobacco products manufacturing machine supplier is based outside the UK then you should still provide your ULN so that it can accompany the transportation of the machinery after 1 August 2018.
7.4 Making checks on your customer’s ULN
If you are licensed under the scheme and intend to supply an item of tobacco products manufacturing machinery to another person based in the UK, for example following a sale, rental or disposal, then you will need to confirm that they also hold a licence from HMRC before the supply takes place.
If this is the first time you are supplying this person with machinery then you must make a check on the validity on their ULN. Details on how you can make checks on ULNs will be given in accompanying correspondence issued with you licence.
You don’t need to make checks for all supplies made to regular customers following their initial purchases after 1 August 2018, but you should make checks on a regular basis. Details of these checks made should be retained in your records. Record keeping obligations are set out further in section 7.5.
If a tobacco product manufacturing machine is transferred to a customer who does not have a valid licence, the machine will be liable to seizure and forfeiture. This could also raise questions on your suitability to continue to hold a licence in the tobacco products manufacturing machine licensing scheme.
7.5 Record keeping
As a condition of your licence you’ll need to keep records relating to your regulated activity. The following is a minimum requirement for any tobacco products manufacturing machine:
- purchase orders or rental details
- sales invoices
- delivery/transportation notes
- import and export details
- details of any destruction
- sales records including customer ULNs
- details of the SIN
Any record that is required to be kept must be preserved for a period of 6 years and must be made available to an HMRC officer upon request.
If a regulated activity is licensed in more than one address, then each address must keep records of the tobacco products manufacturing machinery kept on the premises. These details must be available to HMRC upon request
7.6 Record relating to machinery parts
If you are licensed for a regulated activity then you do not need to contact HMRC every time you purchase a machine part. However records should be retained of the parts purchased together with the purpose of those parts. These records may by inspected by HMRC to ensure overall compliance with the licensing scheme.
7.7 If you breach any conditions set on your licence
If you don’t comply with any conditions of your licence, HMRC may:
- vary the conditions and restrictions of the licence
- impose a financial penalty
- revoke your licence
HMRC will write to you giving you notice of any action they intend to take. If you disagree with any sanction HMRC impose you may have the right to appeal. Please see section 10.
If your licence is revoked and you still carry out regulated activities your tobacco product manufacturing machine may be liable to seizure and forfeiture. You may also be liable to a penalty.
7.8 Surrendering of your licence
If you no longer require to be licensed to conduct a regulated activity using a tobacco product manufacturing machine then you should write to the Excise Processing Team as soon as this information is known.
Before your licence can be surrendered you must have disposed of all the machinery listed on it in. Guidance on this can be found at section 6.4.
You may be contacted by HMRC to review your request to confirm there are no outstanding issues from your regulated activity.
Even after your licence has been surrendered you should retain records as per section 7.5 to demonstrate that you have complied correctly with the scheme’s requirements.
7.9 Revocation of your licence
If HMRC considers that you no longer meet the fit and proper criteria to hold a licence then it may be revoked.
HMRC will give you notice of the revocation which will state the date and reasons for the revocation. If you disagree with their decision you may have the right to appeal. See section 10.
If your licence is revoked you may be able to apply for a temporary approval whilst you seek a review or appeal of that decision.
7.10 Transfer of a licence
A licence cannot be transferred.
From 1 August 2018 all persons who carry out any regulated activity involving tobacco products manufacturing machines, unless covered by an exemption, must hold a licence from HMRC under the tobacco products manufacturing machinery licence scheme. Failure to have a licence may result in a penalty and seizure and forfeiture of the tobacco products manufacturing machine.
8.1 Liability to a penalty
You may be liable to a penalty if you:
- carry out a regulated activity involving a tobacco products manufacturing machine without a licence
- breach any of the conditions or restrictions that apply to your licence
- breach the requirements for an exemption from holding a licence
8.2 Calculation of a penalty
If you’re liable to a penalty because a tobacco product manufacturing machine regulated activity has been carried out, without an exemption then the amount of the penalty is £250.
8.3 If you’re liable to a penalty and you think there are special circumstances or you have a reasonable excuse why this should not be charged
HMRC, or an independent tribunal, may agree that there is a special circumstance or reasonable excuse for the occurrence of the breach. If this is agreed then your penalty may be reduced or removed.
A special circumstance or reasonable excuse does not include the lack of ability to pay.
8.4 What is meant by reasonable excuse
There is no legal definition of what constitutes a reasonable excuse however HMRC will look closely at the circumstances of each case, and the conduct that led to the breach.
It’s not considered a reasonable excuse if you relied on someone else to perform a task for you, unless you can demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to avoid the contravention.
HMRC may not apply a penalty if they believe that there is a reasonable excuse for the breach concerned.
8.5 How penalties are notified
HMRC will notify you in writing of your liability to a penalty. You have the right to appeal if HMRC issues you with a penalty, see section 10.
8.6 Other penalties
Penalties may also arise under other excise regimes, for example:
- penalties for breaches of an excise approval to produce, hold or store goods in duty suspension
- penalties for breaches of legal conditions for the manufacture and storage of tobacco products in duty suspension, other than in registered premises
- failure to notify and excise wrong-doing penalties for handling goods subject to unpaid Excise Duty that arise under Schedule 41 of the Finance Act 2008
9.1 When HMRC will consider seizing a tobacco product manufacturing machine
HMRC may seize a tobacco manufacturing machine where:
- you carry out a regulated activity without a licence
- you breach any of the conditions or restrictions that apply to your licence
- you breach the requirements for an exemption from being granted a licence
- you continue to perform a regulated activity following your licence being revoked
10. Reviews and appeals
10.1 If you disagree with HMRC’s decision
Decisions which you can ask to be reviewed and may appeal are decisions to:
- refuse approval or to revoke or vary the terms of an approval
- apply a penalty and the amount of any penalty
- apply any additional conditions or restrictions
If you don’t agree with any of these decisions, you can:
- tell the person who issued the decision if you have further information or you think HMRC has missed something
- ask for it to be reviewed by an HMRC officer not previously involved in the matter
- appeal to an independent tribunal
10.2 Time limits for requesting a review or an appeal
If you want HMRC to review a decision, you must write to the person who issued the decision letter within 30 days from the date of that letter. Your request should:
- set out clearly the full details of your case
- give the reasons why you disagree with the decision
- provide any supporting documentation
You should also state what result you expect from the review. HMRC will complete a review within 45 days, unless they agree another deadline with you.
10.3 Appealing after HMRC have completed their review
If you still want to appeal to the Tribunal after the HMRC review has been completed you should send details of your appeal to the Tribunal within 30 days of the date of the HMRC review decision letter.
10.4 Appealing to Independent Tribunal
You can appeal directly to the Tribunal Service without an HMRC review, by completing an appeal form. For general enquiries ring the helpline on Telephone: 0300 123 1024.
10.5 Further information
More about general excise enquiries and what to do if you disagree with a tax decision or you can use fact sheet, HMRC1: HM Revenue and Customs decisions – what to do if you disagree.
Your rights and obligations
Your Charter explains what you can expect from us and what we expect from you.
If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice, please write to:
Indirect Tax Tobacco Team
3rd Floor West
3 Stanley Street
This address is not for general enquiries.
For your general enquiries please Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
Putting things right
If you’re unhappy with HMRC’s service, please contact the person or office you have been dealing with. They’ll try to put things right.
If you’re still unhappy, find out how to complain to HMRC.
How HMRC uses your information
HMRC is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. HMRC holds information for the purposes specified in their notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.
HMRC may get information about you from others, or they may give information to them. If they do, it will only be as the law permits to:
- check the accuracy of information
- prevent or detect crime
- protect public funds
HMRC may check information it receives about you with what is already in its records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. HMRC will not give information to anyone outside the organisation unless the law permits it to do so. For more information read the guidance on data protection.