Introduction of European rules against illegal tobacco trade

The European Union has established requirements for packaging of tobacco products to prevent illegal trade in tobacco products. Packages must contain an unique identifier (unique code) which indicates, among other things, the origin and location of a tobacco product. Tobacco products must also contain a security feature. This is a stamp that indicates that the tobacco product is genuine and not a counterfeit product. These rules are established in the Articles 15 and 16 of the European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

Tobacco Products Directive: unique identifiers

Tobacco producers and importers can place unique identifiers on packages of tobacco products from 20 May 2019. This unique identifier must be placed on every package of cigarettes or roll-your-own tobacco that is manufactured, imported or exported within the European Union. This requirement is established in Article 15 of the TPD.

Atos is the ID-issuer

The Member States of the European Union must designate an entity that will generate and issue the unique identifiers. Atos will do this on behalf of the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS). At the end of February, Atos will provide more information about the unique identifiers via a new website. The length of the unique identifier is 26 characters. We will announce on this website when the Atos website will be operational.

Atos will also organize a kick-off meeting. During that meeting, a demonstration will be given of the order system for the unique identifiers. Atos will inform you about the kick-off meeting via the new website.

Article 16 Tobacco Products Directive: security feature

All packages of tobacco products can be given a security feature from 20 May 2019. This is a stamp that can easily be noticed by both sellers and consumers indicating that a package of cigarettes is legal. This requirement is established in Article 16 of the TPD.

The majority of the tobacco products in the Netherlands must contain a tax stamp on the basis of Dutch tax law (‘Wet op de Accijns’). This tax stamp meets the requirements of the security feature within the meaning of Article 16 of the TPD. However, not all tobacco products must contain an excise stamp on the basis of Dutch tax law. For tobacco products that are sold via Dutch tax-free shops at airports to travelers traveling to countries outside the EU, this obligation does not apply, for example.

However, these tobacco products must contain a safety feature. That is why the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports has signed an agreement with printer Royal Joh. Enschedé B.V. This printer will print special security feature stamps (VHK-stamps). In order to have VHK-stamps to be printed, tobacco producers and importers first have to request permission with the registration form permission requesting VHK-stamps. The form states how you can submit the permission to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. If the permission will be granted, you can request VHK-stamps from Royal Joh. Enschedé B.V.. The price per sheet consisting of 300 VHK stamps is set at € 3,11. You can only order complete sheets of 300 stamps. The amount of sheets indicated will be invoiced to you by Royal Joh. Enschedé B.V. Regarding this forecast a supply and purchase obligation applies. A business-related number will be part of the VHK-stamps.

The size of the VHK-stamp (2,0 x 4,4 cm) is equal to the size of the tax stamp. The VHK-stamp must be affixed to tobacco packages in the same way and on the same spot as the tax stamp.

European Tobacco Products Directive

The TPD was established in 2014. The TPD imposes requirements on the packaging of tobacco products. For example, the requirement that warns for health risks must be present.