What do you mean by a cigarette license or tobacco license?
A cigarette license or a retail cigarette license is a legal document issued by the concerned state department (as well as City and county local bodies) which signifies that a business or a retailer is legally allowed to sell cigarettes and tobacco (against tobacco license) in accordance with the state law from a specified location to the consumers who are allowed to buy them.
Who is required to obtain and maintain a Retail Cigarette or Tobacco License?
In most states every retailer who sells or will sell cigarettes or tobacco products is required to obtain a retail cigarette and tobacco license and bound to renew it annually. A tobacco license is required before you start selling of cigarettes and tobacco products.
Who is a cigarette retailer?
“A Cigarette Retailer” is a person, other than a wholesale dealer, who sells cigarettes or tobacco products directly to the public from a specified retail location, including cigarette vending machines.
What are the requirements to obtain and maintain a Retail Cigarette or Tobacco License?
Every retailer currently selling cigarettes or tobacco products must apply for and obtain a cigarette and tobacco license/cigar license. All new applications must be submitted with a one-time license fee (vary by state) for each retail location selling cigarettes or tobacco products. Each retail location selling cigarettes or tobacco products must have a separate license. In most states a license is valid for a twelve-month period, is not assignable or transferable, and must be renewed annually.
Please remember that you may not sell cigarette and/or tobacco products without a valid Cigarette and Tobacco License.
What are my responsibilities as a holder of a retail cigarette license?
As a retailer of cigarettes or tobacco products you must:
Prominently display the license at each retail location in a manner visible to the public.
Keep complete and legible purchase invoices for cigarettes and tobacco products for four (4) years.
Keep these invoices at the location indicated on your license for the first year after purchase.
Allow Board staff or law enforcement agencies to review your invoices upon request.
The law also adds record keeping requirements and other provisions related to your purchase of cigarettes and tobacco products.
Shall I need to apply for any other permits?
Depending on your business operations, you may be required to obtain more than just a retail cigarette license or tobacco license. If you are a new retailer you may need to obtain a sales tax id number (Certificate of Authority).
Exempt states for Cigarette and Tobacco License/Cigar License:
Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia
How can I apply for retail cigarette license?
Do I need a separate license for each of my stores, or is one license for all of my stores sufficient?
You must obtain a license for each retail location you own or operate. For example, if you operate several different stores and each sells cigarettes or tobacco products, you must obtain a separate license for each store location. However, you may submit a single application for multiple licenses.
Do I have to renew my license?
Yes. The license must be renewed annually. However, if you fail to renew your license timely and allow your license to expire, you will be required to pay a reinstatement fee as a precondition for reinstatement. Please remember that you may not sell cigarette and/or tobacco products without a valid Cigarette and Tobacco License/Cigarette vending machine license.
Can our corporate office apply for licenses for all store locations, or does each store have to apply separately?
A corporate office may submit a single application for all of its stores, but the appropriate information (addresses, etc.) must be stated on the application along with the submission of the fee for each store.
Do I have to display the license?
Yes. Every retailer of cigarette and tobacco prominently display their license at each retail location in a manner visible to the public. If retailers fail to display the license, they are liable for a penalty and their license may ultimately be subject to suspension and revocation.
What will happen if I do not obtain a license?
If you do not obtain a license and continue to sell cigarettes or tobacco products, you will be subject to fines or imprisonment up to one year, or both.
What types of products are covered under the law?
You must obtain a license if you sell any type of tobacco products. These include cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, etc., as defined by Revenue and Taxation department.