Gov’t Bans Importation of Cigarettes Without Digital Tax Stamps Starting May

With the government’s initiatives set on enforcing tax collection as well as weeding out the entry of low-quality contraband products into the market, authorities have imposed a stricter approach in getting things done. Other than taking a modern approach or by use of digital stamps on products to be allowed entry in the country, the government is also looking to strengthen its legislation against this growing concern in the country.

For the uninformed, the government has introduced an initiative, labelled as the ‘Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme,’ which went into effect on January 1, 2019. Through this initiative, electronic tracking of cigarette packs from production until they reach end consumers will be observed.

Gov’t Bans Importation of Cigarettes Without Digital Tax Stamps Starting May
Credits: WAM

Imported Cigarettes Without Tax Stamp to be Banned in UAE

The said initiative, which is following the timeline, set by the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) now imposes the ban of importation of any type of cigarettes into the UAE that do not bear the ‘Digital Tax Stamps’ starting May 1, 2019, as shared in a report by the Khaleej Times.

Furthermore, the selling of unmarked cigarette packs in local markets will be considered illegal starting August 1 of this year.

In an announcement released last Tuesday (April 30), the FTA disclosed receiving a large volume of orders for the Digital Tax Stamps from manufacturers and importers to apply them on cigarettes supplied to UAE markets, noting that the month of April saw several batches of FTA-approved Digital Tax Stamps reach cigarette suppliers around the country.

According to FTA Director General Khalid Ali Al Bustani, manufacturers and suppliers showed initiative and commitment in acquiring the Digital Tax Stamps, administering all required paperwork and registering the stamps in FTA databases. The stamps store digital information that can be decrypted using a dedicated device to verify that the Excise Tax due on said products has been duly paid and accounted for.

The FTA added that the scheme will be gradually expanded to cover all tobacco products and support the government’s efforts to collect taxes, combat tax evasion, and protect consumers against low-quality, contraband products that harm the people’s health and the environment.

Furthermore, the scheme will enforce inspection and control at customs ports and markets to halt sales of contraband products, through the help of and collaboration with the international company hired to operate the system. Of note, the FTA has also organized an extensive awareness campaign through its official website, social networking platforms, newspapers, and audio-visual media to raise awareness on the importance and process for this initiative.