Tobacco Tax

Frequently Asked Questions About Licence/Permit


Do I need a licence to import and/or export tobacco into/out of Ontario

The Tobacco Tax Act requires that all businesses who plan to import and/or export tobacco in bulk into or out of Ontario must register with the Client Services Branch in order to obtain a Registration Certificate for Import and/or Export and a Wholesaler's Permit.

To be registered as an Importer and/or Exporter, applicants must provide and maintain security, to the Ministry of Finance, in the form of a surety bond or letter of credit. This helps to protect the ministry against the loss of public funds in the event a registrant fails to account for tobacco tax collected or collectible. The Act specifies security equal to three month's tax, subject to minimums  which range from $10,000 to $1,000,000, depending on registration type(s). Call or write the Client Services Branch for details.

For further information, please refer to Ontario Tax Bulletin TT 4-2000.


Do I need a licence to sell tobacco at wholesale?

The Tobacco Tax Act requires that all businesses who purchase tobacco in bulk for resale to retailers must register with the Client Services Branch in order to obtain a Wholesaler's Permit.


Do I need a tobacco permit to sell tobacco products at retail?

Tobacco retailers must have a permit issued by the ministry's Client Services Branch to sell tobacco products to consumers in Ontario.

Tobacco retailers who on June 30, 2010 held a valid vendor's permit issued under the Retail Sales Tax Act (RST) should retain it to purchase tobacco products from registered wholesalers after June 30, 2010. Retailers with a valid RST vendor's permit on June 30, 2010 are deemed to hold a tobacco retail dealer's permit and may use their RST vendor's permit as if it is a tobacco retail dealer's permit.

Effective July 1, 2010, tobacco retailers who did not on June 30, 2010 have a valid RST vendor's permit, must obtain a tobacco retail dealer's permit issued under the Tobacco Tax Act.

Tobacco retailers must ensure they purchase tobacco products from a wholesaler who has a valid wholesaler's permit issued by the ministry's Client Services Branch. To confirm whether your supplier is a registered wholesaler, please view the Tobacco Tax Registrant List.

Tobacco retailers should also contact their municipality about any bylaws concerning the sale of tobacco products and the Canada Revenue Agency about the Harmonized Sales Tax.


When did the requirement to have a tobacco retail dealer's permit begin?

This requirement began July 1, 2010, as announced in the 2010 Ontario Budget. The Creating the Foundation for Jobs and Growth Act, 2010, which contained amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act, received Royal Assent on May 18, 2010.


I have/had a Retail Sales Tax (RST) vendor's permit — will that do?

Yes. If you held a valid RST vendor's permit on June 30, 2010, you do not need to apply for a tobacco retail dealer's permit. Vendors who sell tobacco products should retain their RST vendor's permit to purchase tobacco products from registered wholesalers.


I am an authorized reserve retailer under Ontario's First Nations Cigarette Allocation System. Must I apply for a tobacco retail dealer's permit?

No. Your valid authorization as a reserve retailer under the allocation system is considered to be a tobacco retail dealer's permit.


How do I apply for a tobacco retail dealer's permit?

If you need a tobacco retail dealer’s permit, you may apply by mail or fax using the Application for Tobacco Retail Dealer’s Permit [PDF - 402 KB].


I am a tobacco wholesaler. What do the changes to the Tobacco Tax Act mean to me?

As of July 1, 2010, before selling or delivering tobacco products to a retailer you must ensure the person:

  1. held a valid RST vendor's permit on June 30, 2010, or
  2. is an authorized reserve retailer under Ontario's First Nations Cigarette Allocation System or
  3. holds a tobacco retail dealer's permit under section 3.1 of the Tobacco Tax Act.

As a tobacco wholesaler, how will I know if a retailer is eligible to buy tobacco products?

To confirm if a permit or authorization is valid, you may call 1 866 ONT-TAXS (1 866 668-8297) and, when prompted, say "tobacco" to speak to a representative.

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