The UK’s newly-implemented Track and Trace system for tobacco products will be suspended in the event of a no-deal Brexit, HMRC confirmed on Wednesday.
The system, which was a requirement of the EU Tobacco Products Directive, would likely be suspended for up to one year if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October, while it attempted to introduce a UK stand-alone system, an HMRC spokesman told Convenience Store.
The Track and Trace legislation was enforced on 20 May 2019, requiring retailers across the UK to apply for unique codes - an Economic Operator Identifier Code registered to their business and a Facility Identifier Code for each of their stores - in order to purchase new Track and Trace compliant tobacco products, which are now available in wholesale.
“If we have to suspend the Track and Trace system following a no-deal EU exit, we are fully committed to restarting a UK system as quickly as possible with the minimum changes necessary to give the UK full regulatory control,” the HMRC spokesman said.
“If we leave the EU with a deal, the Track and Trace system will continue in its current format,” he added.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is seeking assurances from HMRC that retailers will not have to go through the application process again, in the event of a no deal.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Retailers have spent a significant amount of time, effort and resource to get the codes they need to be compliant with the track and trace regulations,” he added.
Retailers claim that the application process for codes, made via the UK’s ID Issuer De La Rue, has been fraught with complications since it opened, while wholesalers have complained of problems with new scanning equipment.