With just under four months to go before UK retailers will need two new codes in order to purchase tobacco products legally, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) claims it is now close to communicating key details of how the new Track and Trace legislation will impact on stores.

An HMRC spokeswoman told Convenience Store: “We are in the final stages of contract clarification and expect to announce HMRC’s chosen supplier to act as the UK’s ID Issuer by 1 February 2019.

“When the contract is finalised, our priority will be to work with the supplier to provide details on when and how retailers will be able to apply for an ID code.”

The ID Issuer will be responsible for sending retailers the two new codes that they will need in order to purchase tobacco legally from 20 May 2019.

Retailers will need to apply to the new ID Issuer to receive an ‘economic operator identifier code’ for their business and a ‘facility identifier code’ for each of their stores and HMRC is also now working on guidance for retailers on how to do so.

It is understood that retailers will be issued with their codes within two working days of their applications, and that registered third parties, such as wholesalers and symbol groups, will able to apply for codes on behalf of retailers.

Forming part of the EU Tobacco Products Directive, the Track and Trace regulations are designed to curb the illicit trade by introducing a new method of tracking the sale of legitimate tobacco products through the supply chain.