HMRC has suggested that the track and trace (T&T) system would need to be ‘suspended’ if the UK left the EU without a deal.

The comment was made last week in a meeting of the Joint Alcohol and Tobacco Consultative Group. HMRC said it believes restarting a UK-only system with the necessary associated legislation would take between six-to-12 months, with current plans referring to the system being restarted in October 2020.

ACS chief executive James Lowman responded: “Retailers have spent a significant amount of time, effort and resources to get the codes they need to be compliant with the T&T regulations. If a no-deal Brexit means that there is delay in the introduction of the regulations, retailers need assurance from HMRC that they will not have to go through the same process all over again.”

T&T regulations came into force in May of this year, with thousands of retailers already applying for codes. The regulations require retailers to have an economic operator identifier code (registered to their business) and a facility identifier code (for each of their stores) in order to purchase compliant cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco products.