HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed that small retailers can apply for the tobacco track and trace codes from 30 April.
Retailers will only get a three-week window to file their applications as the regulation takes effect on 20 May.
Retailers will have to apply to receive both an ‘economic operator identifier code’ for their business and a ‘facility identifier code’ for each of their stores, which would be necessary to sell tobacco from their stores.
HMRC have earlier confirmed that there will be no fees associated with the application process for the codes.
Security and anti-counterfeiting solution provider De La Rue has signed a £3.5million contract with HMRC to implement the track and trace system in the UK.
To obtain the codes, retailers must apply to De La Rue before 20 May. There will be a phased opening to the application process, depending on the size of retailer. Pre-registration process for larger retailers will open on 23 April and for all retailers on 30 April.
Retailers will receive their codes from 10 May.
The ‘track and trace’ proposals in the EU Revised Tobacco Products Directive will put in place a new method of tracking the sale of legitimate tobacco products through the supply chain.
The Association of Convenience Stores, which has repeatedly raised concerns on the delay in announcing the application process, warned that the timeframe could prove too short.
“We have been frustrated with the lack of information and frequent delays to the process for retailers being able to apply for codes. Three weeks is not a long time for thousands of small shops to comply with the regulations, especially if there are problems with the system and confusion around the application process,” said James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS.