Cigarette & Tobacco Products Licensing Registration Information
Who is required to register?
The Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act (Assembly Bill 71 [Chapter 890, Statutes 2003]) (Act) was enacted on October 12, 2003. The Act imposes licensing requirements on all retailers, wholesalers, and distributors of cigarettes and tobacco products and all manufacturers and importers of cigarettes. These licensing requirements are in addition to the permits and licenses that may be required depending on your business operations. The Act, intended to decrease tax evasion on the sales of cigarettes and tobacco products in California, also included provisions for new recordkeeping requirements, inspection and seizure of any untaxed cigarettes or tobacco products, and imposed civil and criminal penalties for violations.
Retail sellers of cigarettes and tobacco products in California must have a Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer's License. There is a one-time fee of $100 for each location from which you sell cigarettes or tobacco products at retail. The license is valid for one year and must be renewed annually. There is no additional charge to renew a license. However, if you fail to renew your license timely and allow your license to expire, you will be required to pay a reinstatement fee of $100.00 as a precondition for reinstatement. Please remember that you may not sell cigarette and/or other tobacco products without a valid Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retail License.
Wholesalers of cigarettes and tobacco products (as defined in section 30016 of the Revenue and Taxation Code) are also required to annually obtain and maintain a license to engage in the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products. If you purchase tax-paid cigarettes or other tobacco products for resale, you must obtain a wholesaler's license. The fee for a wholesaler's license is $1,000 a year for each location.
Distributors of cigarettes and tobacco products (as defined in section 30011 of the Revenue and Taxation Code) are also required to annually obtain and maintain a license to engage in the sale of cigarettes or tobacco products in California. If you purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products from an out-of-state seller who does not have a license issued under the Act, you must obtain a distributor's license. The fee for a distributor's license is $1,000 a year for each location.
Manufacturers and Importers
In accordance with the Act, every manufacturer and importer of cigarettes and/or tobacco products is required to obtain a license from the Board of Equalization in order to engage in the sale of cigarettes in California.
For information on licensing requirements for cigarette manufacturers and importers, please visit http://www.boe.ca.gov/sptaxprog/spctmanufacturer.htm.
For information on licensing requirements for tobacco products manufacturers and importers, please visit http://www.boe.ca.gov/sptaxprog/CCTP_LicAct03.htm.
Retailers of Cigarette and Tobacco Products – Transfers Between Multiple Locations
If you are a retailer of cigarette and tobacco products operating multiple retail locations in California and hold a Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer’s License for each location, we recognize there are occasions when transfers of cigarettes or tobacco products between your retail stores take place. However, a transfer of products between your retail stores is permitted only in specific instances.
A retailer with multiple locations may transfer product from one location to another only when the retailer is the legal owner of both locations, there is documentation to prove that the product is tax-paid and the documentation is made available to BOE staff during an inspection. In order to prove that the transferred product is tax-paid, the retailer must provide at the time of inspection (1) a copy of the original purchase invoice(s); (2) legible records showing the name, address and license number of each retail location; (3) the date the transfer took place; (4) a detailed description of the items transferred including packaging, flavor and style; and (5) the number of items transferred. The description must match exactly the description on the original purchase invoice(s) and the number of items transferred cannot exceed the number of items on the original purchase invoice(s). Without this documentation available at the time of inspection, it is not possible to establish that the product is tax-paid and the product is subject to seizure.
Please refer to Publication 78, Sales of Cigarettes and Tobacco Products in California, for additional information in regard to the transfer of product between retail locations.
You may register for a license using online electronic registration (eReg). eReg is the convenient way to register and is available 24 hours a day.