Retailing tobacco

Last updated: August 31, 2020

To sell or offer to sell taxable tobacco at retail, you must:

  1. Hold a tobacco retail authorization

  2. Purchase tobacco from a registered wholesale dealer

  3. Collect tobacco tax from your customers

  4. Follow tobacco control rules on how to sell, display and promote tobacco

  5. Follow the rules when selling, using or providing heated tobacco products

Tobacco retail authorization (TRA)

You must hold a unique TRA for each retail location in B.C. that sells taxable tobacco, including vending machines. You can apply for a TRA:

If your application is approved, a TRA will be sent to you in approximately 10 business days. You must display your TRA in a prominent place where you sell tobacco. 

A TRA is not transferable and is issued to a specific business at a specific location. You must contact us and apply for a new TRA if you:

  • Purchase a business that sells tobacco
  • Open a new location that sells tobacco
  • Change your location address
  • Change your legal name

Contact us if you lose your TRA.

If you also sell or offer to sell tax-exempt tobacco, you must hold a valid Exempt Sale Retail Dealer permit. Only duty-free shops, ship's chandlers and retailers on First Nations land can apply for this permit.

Purchasing tobacco for resale

You must purchase tobacco from a registered wholesaler that holds a wholesaler permit issued by the province. You will need to present a valid TRA to purchase tobacco products. 

Packages, cartons and cases of cigarettes and fine cut tobacco you purchase from any wholesaler and sell to your customers must bear B.C.’s unique stamp.

If you wish to purchase tobacco from a source that isn’t registered with the province, contact us for more information. 

Collecting tobacco tax

You must collect tobacco tax from your customers.

When you purchase tobacco from a registered wholesaler, the wholesale purchase price includes an amount equal to the tobacco tax called security. You collect the tobacco tax from your customer and keep it to reimburse yourself for the security you pay to the wholesaler.

You will only need to report and pay security directly to the province when the tobacco tax rates change. All tobacco retailers will be contacted with instructions when a tax rate change occurs.