Importing Tobacco Products Into the U.S.

The laws regarding the importation of tobacco products into the United States are strict. Regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the following considers what you need to know about importing tobacco products into the U.S. lawfully. For a more detailed explanation and legal counsel, reach out to The Law Offices of Paula M. Connelly.

Obtaining a Permit from TTB

Whether you are importing tobacco products for your personal use, or for commercial purposes, the law requires that you acquire a permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau first. This permit allows for the importation of certain tobacco products, including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Cigarettes;
  • Cigars;
  • Chewing tobacco;
  • Snuff;
  • Pipe tobacco; and
  • Roll-your-own tobacco.

Further, it is important to note that cigarettes cannot be imported into the United States unless they satisfy four conditions. These conditions are:

  • List of ingredients is provided. If a full list of ingredients is not provided to the U.S. Department of Health & Human services, cigarettes may not be imported.
  • Display of warning messages. Individual packs and cartons must have warning labels that meet the requirements put forth in 15 USC Section 1333.
  • Approved rotation plan for warning messages. Cigarette packaging must meet federal requirements. The manufacturer of the cigarettes must have an approved rotation plan for the display of warning signs.
  • Permission from trademark owner. If the cigarettes use any labels or symbols that are trademarked, permission from the trademark owner to import must be given.

If a permit is obtained for importation of tobacco products, keep in mind that there are taxes on the importation of tobacco. The person who is liable for this tax is the importer.

Penalties for Illegal Importation of Tobacco Products

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the importation of cigarettes or other smokeless tobacco products is illegal if above criteria is not satisfied and a permit for importation is not obtained. Illegal importation is punishable under USC Title 18, Section 1716E.

Get Help When Importing Tobacco Products from an Experienced Import Attorney

Importing tobacco products, whether for personal use or for commercial sale, is a task that is encumbered by a number of stringent requirements. A violation of these requirements can have criminal penalties, including fines and incarceration.

If you need to import any tobacco products into the United States, be sure to work with an experienced import lawyer. The Law Offices of Paula M. Connelly have the experience and knowledge necessary to advise you and your business in regards to all import-related laws. To schedule a consultation with Paula M. Connelly today, call (781) 897-1771. You can also reach us through email.



The information contained in this Website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.

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