HMRC has still failed to explain how retailers can comply with new tobacco ‘track and trace’ regulations even though they are due to come into effect in less than three months.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has compiled a guide to what is known so far about the regulations and how retailers will be required to comply, but warned there is a major gap in HMRC’s preparations.

The regulations will require retailers to have an Economic Operator Identifier Code (registered to their business) and a Facility Identifier Code (for each store or premises which stores tobacco) in order to purchase cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco products from 20 May. To obtain the codes, retailers must apply to a government appointed ID issuer before 20 May. However, the application process for codes is not open yet.

ACS has repeatedly called on the Government to publish details of how retailers can apply for the codes. ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The introduction of track and trace will place a number of demands on retailers and it is important that HMRC urgently addresses the uncertainty around compliance with these regulations.

“We have called on HMRC to publish details of how retailers can get the codes they need to comply with the regulations. Any problems with this process could leave to retailers not getting their codes in time and not being able to purchase compliant tobacco after the implementation date.”

ACS will be following up with government officials to find out details about when the application process will open and will continue to raise concerns about the time left for retailers to apply for their codes before the implementation date.

The ‘track and trace’ page of the ACS website  ( will be updated with more information once it becomes available.