Raw Leaf Tobacco Program Information

For the purposes of the Raw Leaf Tobacco Program, raw leaf tobacco includes all varieties of unmanufactured tobacco grown in or brought into Ontario, including flue‑cured, dark‑fire‑cured/dark‑air‑cured (also known as black) and burley tobacco.

The Ministry of Finance regulates raw leaf tobacco in Ontario, whether or not the raw leaf tobacco is grown in Ontario.

For information specific to growing raw leaf tobacco, please refer to Raw Leaf Tobacco Program Information for Producers.

Requirement to register under the raw leaf tobacco program

Registration certificates required to conduct related raw leaf tobacco activities

The Ministry of Finance's Raw Leaf Tobacco Program commenced on January 1, 2015. Under the Raw Leaf Tobacco Program the Ministry will be issuing registration certificates and carrying out inspections and investigations as required. If you were previously a registered grower under the Ontario Flue‑Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board, you will now require a registration certificate from the Ministry of Finance to grow raw leaf tobacco. No fees will be payable to the Ministry of Finance in respect of the issuance of a registration certificate.

The Tobacco Tax Act requires all entities involved in the raw leaf tobacco industry to hold a registration certificate issued by the Ministry of Finance, and to deal only with other entities that hold the appropriate registration certificate issued under the Tobacco Tax Act. The Ministry of Finance maintains a listing of raw leaf registrants.

Starting January 1, 2015, you must hold a Raw Leaf Tobacco Registration Certificate under the Tobacco Tax Act if you:

  • produce (plant, grow, harvest, cure, bale or package) raw leaf tobacco
  • process (i.e., strip, stem, thresh, re‑dry, blend, or package) raw leaf tobacco
  • sell or buy raw leaf tobacco
  • bring into or take out of Ontario (import/export) raw leaf tobacco, or
  • transport raw leaf tobacco into or out of Ontario and are not already registered with the Ministry of Finance as an inter‑jurisdictional transporter.

If you do any of these activities without holding the required registration certificate(s), your raw leaf tobacco may be seized and you may have to pay fines and penalties.

Note for processors: You must hold a Raw Leaf Tobacco Processor Registration Certificate even if you only process as a service provider and never own the raw leaf tobacco that you process.

Note for Tobacco Manufacturers registered under s.7 of the Tobacco Tax Act: If you only buy raw leaf tobacco to incorporate it into the tobacco products you manufacture, you do not need to hold a Raw Leaf Tobacco Registration Certificate. You can also rely on your manufacturer registration certificate to transport and sell your raw leaf tobacco in Ontario. However, if you conduct any other regulated raw leaf tobacco activity, such as importing or exporting raw leaf tobacco, you must hold the raw leaf tobacco registration certificate(s) that apply to the raw leaf tobacco activity you conduct.

Personal Use Exemption

The Tobacco Tax Act provides for exemptions that allow an individual to:

  • produce and process for his or her own personal use, and not for sale, up to 15 kilograms of raw leaf tobacco per calendar year
  • buy up to 3 kilograms of raw leaf tobacco for his or her own personal use
  • import up to 3 kilograms of raw leaf tobacco for his or her own personal use
  • export up to 3 kilograms of raw leaf tobacco for his or her own personal use
  • transport up to 5 kilograms of raw leaf tobacco for his or her own or another individual's personal use.

This means you do not require a registration certificate under the Tobacco Tax Act for the above activities provided they do not exceed the maximum weight allowed.

In addition, the personal use exemption allows the sale or delivery of up to 3 kilograms of raw leaf tobacco to an individual for their own personal use.

How to get a Raw Leaf Tobacco Registration certificate

To register under the Raw Leaf Tobacco Program, you must complete an Application to Register - Raw Leaf Tobacco and submit it to the Ministry of Finance. To register as an interjurisdictional transporter, complete an Application to Register for Interjurisdictional Transporter under the Tobacco Tax Act and submit it to the Ministry of Finance.

Raw leaf tobacco registration certificates contain conditions and restrictions

If you meet the criteria, the Ministry of Finance will issue you the applicable Raw Leaf Tobacco Registration Certificate(s). The certificate(s) allows you to conduct the applicable regulated raw leaf tobacco activity for the period indicated on the certificate, subject to the conditions contained in the certificate. Failure to comply with conditions and restrictions may result in penalties or fines.

The Raw Leaf Tobacco Producer Registration Certificate is valid for only the current year or less. You will need to confirm that you continue to meet the criteria for a new Raw Leaf Tobacco Producer Registration Certificate for each subsequent year that you intend to conduct your activity. Producers are required to complete an Application to Produce form prior to planting raw leaf tobacco each year. You will receive this application each year for you to complete and submit to the Ministry of Finance.

Refusal to issue a registration certificate

If the Ministry of Finance intends to refuse to issue a registration certificate, you have the opportunity under the Tobacco Tax Act to request a show‑cause hearing with the Ministry of Finance to allow you to raise your concerns and request a re‑evaluation of your application.

Buying and selling raw leaf tobacco

Buying raw leaf tobacco

If you are authorized to buy raw leaf tobacco under your registration certificate, you may only buy and receive raw leaf tobacco from a person who holds a valid Raw Leaf Tobacco Dealer Registration Certificate. You can check who is registered by visiting the Ministry of Finance's website.

Note: In the case of buying from a producer, please call the Ministry of Finance at 1 866 ONT‑TAXS (1 866 668‑8297) extension 16160 to confirm whether a producer holds a valid Raw Leaf Tobacco Dealer Registration Certificate.

Buying raw leaf tobacco from producers who have yet to produce the raw leaf tobacco - Evidence of contract for purchase

Generally, raw leaf tobacco cannot be produced in Ontario unless the producer first has a buyer who has agreed to buy the raw leaf tobacco that the producer will be producing for the buyer during the current production year.

If you are buying raw leaf tobacco from a producer who will be growing the raw leaf tobacco being sold to you, you must confirm that the producer holds a valid Raw Leaf Tobacco Dealer Registration Certificate. You can check who is registered by calling the Ministry of Finance at 1 866 ONT‑TAXS (1 866 668‑8297) extension 16160 to confirm whether a producer holds a valid Raw Leaf Tobacco Dealer Registration Certificate.

You must also confirm the production quantity arrangement and your agreement to buy the raw leaf tobacco that the producer will be producing for you by signing the Evidence of Contract for Purchase form that the producer will complete and also sign and submit along with their Application to Produce.

The Evidence of Contract for Purchase summarizes the production quantity arrangement that you have with the producer for the current production year, including information regarding the amount of land that the producer asserts is needed to plant tobacco plants on in order to be able to fulfill the arrangement.

Note: A separate Evidence of Contract for Purchase form is required to be completed for every producer who has agreed to sell to you the raw leaf tobacco that the producer will be producing for you. An Evidence of Contract for Purchase is also required if you arrange to purchase from a producer any carry over tobacco grown in a previous production year by a producer. Further, this process is required for every production year that the producer(s) will be growing raw leaf tobacco to sell to you.

Selling raw leaf tobacco

If you sell, offer to sell, or keep for sale raw leaf tobacco, you must hold a valid Raw Leaf Tobacco Dealer Registration Certificate. You may only sell or offer to sell to a person who holds a valid raw leaf tobacco registration certificate or to a tobacco manufacturer registered under section 7 the Tobacco Tax Act. You can check who is registered by visiting the Ministry of Finance's website.

Reporting requirements of raw leaf tobacco registrants

You must let the Ministry of Finance know about any changes to the name or nature of your business and your raw leaf tobacco activities as soon as the change happens. You must also give the Ministry of Finance the information below.

Raw leaf tobacco return and schedule(s)

You must report your raw leaf tobacco activities for each month by completing and sending in a Raw Leaf Tobacco Return to the Ministry of Finance.

The information that must be reported includes, where applicable:

  • how much raw leaf tobacco you have in inventory at the start of the reporting period
  • details including the quantity of raw leaf tobacco you have bought and who you bought the tobacco from during the reporting period
  • details including the quantity of raw leaf tobacco you have sold and who you sold the tobacco to during the reporting period
  • details including the quantity of the raw leaf tobacco you have processed
  • details including the quantity of the raw leaf tobacco you have brought into Ontario
  • details including the quantity of the raw leaf tobacco you have taken out of Ontario
  • any adjustments to raw leaf tobacco quantity you have in inventory and the reason for the adjustment, and
  • how much raw leaf tobacco you have in inventory at the end of the reporting period.

You must complete and file the return by the 10th of the following month even if you have no activity to report.

Your reporting period and filing frequency may change depending on other regulated raw leaf tobacco activities you engage in, such as if you only produce in Ontario and sell the raw leaf tobacco you grow in Ontario.

Tobacco manufacturers

If you are registered as a tobacco manufacturer under the Tobacco Tax Act, you must report your raw leaf tobacco activities in a schedule as part of your monthly Tobacco Tax Return. This schedule and return is required to be filed even if you have no activity to report.

Interjurisdictional transporters

If you are registered as an interjurisdictional transporter under the Tobacco Tax Act, you must report your raw leaf tobacco activities as part of your monthly Tobacco Tax Interjurisdictional Transporter Return. This return is required to be filed even if you have no activity to report.

Notice of intent to destroy

If for any reason you want to destroy raw leaf tobacco, you must inform the Ministry of Finance at least three (3) days before you destroy the tobacco.

Details you must give include:

  • the date of the planned destruction
  • the current location of the raw leaf tobacco to be destroyed and the location where it is to be destroyed
  • the quantity and type of raw leaf tobacco to be destroyed
  • the method of destruction, and
  • the reason for the destruction.

Contact the Ministry of Finance by calling 1 866 ONT‑TAXS (1 866 668‑8297) extension 16160.

Stolen Raw Leaf Tobacco or Damaged Crops

In the case of theft of raw leaf tobacco or crop damage, producers are asked to promptly contact the Ministry of Finance by calling 1 866 ONT‑TAXS (1 866 668‑8297) extension 16160 so that the details of the occurrence may be documented and verified. Supporting documentation may include a copy of any police report or insurance report.

Transporting raw leaf tobacco

Registration certificate required for transporting raw leaf tobacco

Any person who transports raw leaf tobacco in Ontario must have a registration certificate for the raw leaf activities in which they engage or be transporting the raw leaf tobacco on behalf of such a person. If you transport raw leaf tobacco in Ontario without crossing provincial or international borders, you do not need a separate registration certificate to transport the raw leaf tobacco.

Whenever raw leaf tobacco is transported by an interjurisdictional transporter, the transporter must carry a true copy of their interjurisdictional transporter registration certificate.

Please see Changes to the Raw Leaf Tobacco for more information on transporting requirements and consequences of non‑compliance.

Inspection and compliance

Failure to comply can result in suspension and cancellation

Ministry of Finance officials are authorized to examine any inventory of raw leaf tobacco. This includes inspecting fields where tobacco is grown and barns, kilns, warehouses, and facilities used for curing, cutting and storing tobacco – both onsite and offsite.

Ministry of Finance officials may seize the raw leaf tobacco from anyone not in compliance with the Tobacco Tax Act. In certain circumstances, you will receive a written notice prior to the Ministry of Finance seizing your raw leaf tobacco. If you receive a written notice that the Ministry of Finance intends to seize your raw leaf tobacco, you may make a written request within 5 days of receiving that notice to have a hearing to explain why the Ministry of Finance should not seize the tobacco.

Your raw leaf tobacco registration certificate(s) may be suspended or cancelled for many reasons, including:

  • providing false or misleading information
  • breaching your conditions and restrictions, or
  • otherwise not complying with the Tobacco Tax Act.

If the Ministry of Finance intends to suspend or cancel your registration certificate, under the Tobacco Tax Act you have the opportunity to request a show‑cause hearing with the Ministry of Finance to allow you to raise your concerns and request a re‑evaluation of the Ministry of Finance's intention.

Request for written interpretations

To obtain a written interpretation on a specific situation not addressed on this page, please send your request in writing to: Ministry of Finance, Advisory Services - Tobacco Tax, 33 King Street West, 3rd Floor, Oshawa ON L1H 8H5.

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