With the track and trace rules coming in force today, Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) members are warning that their customers could be turned away unless they have registered for an Economic Operator Identifier Code (EOID).
Under the new system, retailers will not be able to purchase cigarettes and rolling tobacco from members of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors after May 19 unless they have registered for an EOID.
Wholesalers have reported that despite the system coming into operation a year ago, some retailers have still not applied for an EOID and attempting to purchase tobacco without it.
As applications can take up to two days to process, customers without an EOID and Facility Identifier Codes for each of their premises will not be immediately able to buy stock on the premises or order them for delivery from today.
The regulations were introduced a year, but with a 12-month implementation period in order to allow wholesalers to install the necessary scanning equipment sold through unmarked stock.
However, HMRC has made it clear that from May 20 retailers and wholesalers will be subject to criminal proceedings, including penalty notices and stock seizures if they do not comply.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “The track and trace scheme has introduced costs and complexity for our wholesaler members and it’s disappointing that the Government has been unable to provide a plan for how the scheme will continue after the Brexit transition period finishes at the end of this year.
“However, the systems are now in place and the message from HMRC in unambiguous: while they will work with wholesalers and retailers who are having technical difficulties, they will also start to use the penalties available for deliberate non-compliance, which we welcome. It’s vital that tobacco retailers apply for and receive their EOID before attempting to make purchases from our members’ tobacco rooms,” he added.
The registration portal can be found here