Changes to the Raw Leaf Tobacco Program

Ontario is simplifying the labelling process for raw leaf tobacco and enhancing oversight with new security‑enhanced bale and package markers. Read more below under Labelling with Ontario-issued markers.

Raw leaf tobacco includes all varieties of unmanufactured tobacco grown in or brought into Ontario, including:

  • green leaf tobacco
  • the leaves and stems of a tobacco plant
  • flue cured, dark fire cured/dark air cured (also known as black), and
  • burley tobacco.

It does not include seedlings.

If you are involved in the RLT industry, it is important that you read this page. Contact the Ministry of Finance if you have questions or if you need to notify the ministry of specific situations as outlined below.

Baling and packaging

All RLT possessed or brought into Ontario must be baled or packaged, with some exceptions (as set out in O.Reg 271/16).

Producers may possess unbaled or unpackaged RLT if it:

  • is not harvested
  • is the stalk of a tobacco plant or is attached to the stalk of a tobacco plant
  • is harvested but not cured
  • is being cured in a kiln or barn
  • was removed from the kiln or barn within the last 24 hours, and
  • was removed from the kiln or barn more than 24 hours prior, is in a distinct pile of RLT that was cured in the same kiln or barn, and the producer's books or records indicate:
    • kiln number or barn number in which the RLT was cured
    • estimated weight of the RLT in the pile, and
    • the reason why the RLT was not baled or packaged.

There are valid reasons why RLT would not be baled or packaged within 24 hours, such as:

  • tobacco is waste tobacco unfit for sale
  • RLT is off grade (e.g., green leaf or dark RLT) and the producer is waiting to gather enough of a similar grade to make a bale or package
  • moisture level of the RLT is too high and the RLT needs further drying before it can be baled or packaged
  • baling or packaging equipment is broken and needs repair, or
  • there is another valid business reason, based on the raw leaf tobacco and normal business practices.

Waste RLT (unfit for sale or off-grade) from more than one kiln or barn can be in the same waste pile.

Processors, manufacturers, importers and exporters may possess RLT that is not baled or packaged if it is being:

  • processed or manufactured, and
  • actively assessed for quality.

Dealers may possess RLT that is not baled or packaged if it is:

  • purchased for the purpose of selling, offering, or keeping for sale to an individual who is exempt from registration under the Act for personal use, and
  • being immediately packaged for the purpose of selling the RLT to an exempt individual.

Other baling or packaging exception:

  • RLT possessed by persons exempt from registration under the Act or Ontario Regulation 247/14, including persons who possess RLT for personal use, research or certain other uses.

Labelling with Ontario‑issued markers

Ontario is enhancing government oversight of raw leaf tobacco by issuing security‑enhanced bale and package markers to businesses in the sector.

The new markers will be sent, free of charge, to businesses in the sector beginning with the 2019 growing season.

For businesses, using government-issued markers will reduce the burden and cost of sourcing their own markers and will build a foundation for online registration, recored keeping, reporting and labelling requirements, further decreasing administrative burden and cost to business.

These markers will improve the government's ability to monitor the movement of raw leaf tobacco throughout production and distribution, making it harder for tobacco to flow into illegal channels.

Beginning with the 2019 growing season, producers, dealers (buyers) and exporters must label their bales or packages of raw leaf tobacco with Ontario‑issued markers. Any other markers will no longer be legal.

Ministry of Finance inspectors will deliver markers to businesses prior to harvest based on the type of bale or package information they provided to the ministry on their annual Evidence of Contract for Purchase forms.

The bale or package of raw leaf tobacco must be visibly labelled with a marker as soon as the bale or package is made in a baler or by a packager. This means that a marker must be attached to a bale or package before the baler or packager is used to make the next bale or package.

Features of the new ministry-issued marker include:

  • Unique Identifier Number (pre‑printed)
  • Name of the RLT producer (pre‑printed)
  • Name of purchaser (pre‑printed)
  • Date baled or packaged
  • Kiln or barn number where the RLT was cured, if applicable
  • Bale or package weight.

The marker will allow a person to write on the marker any information required such as the date baled or packaged, kiln or barn number and bale or package weight.

Where a registrant takes apart bales or packages of RLT to be re‑baled, re‑packaged or re‑worked, the original marker(s) must not be re‑used. Instead a new marker must be used. Markers can be obtained by contacting the Ministry of Finance by fax or email:

Registrants who require new markers for marking re-baled, re‑packaged or re‑worked RLT will be required to provide the ministry with the number of new bales or packages, the name of the producer (if only one) and the name of the purchaser for each bale or package.

If the new bale or package includes RLT sourced from more than one producer, the registrant must record in their books the name of all the RLT producers along with the corresponding kiln or barn number of each producer. Indicate on the marker the name of the producer who provided the most content in that reworked bale or package.

Registrants must document damaged, unusable, lost or stolen markers in their records. Additionally, damaged and unusable markers should be kept along with records and new markers containing the original information should be used to label bales or packages. If bales or packages are labelled using damaged or reused markers, penalties and fines may be applied.

All unused markers at the end of a growing season will be collected by ministry inspectors. If markers are lost or stolen, the ministry must be immediately notified by contacting:

  • 1‑866‑ONT‑TAXS (1‑866‑668‑8297) extension 16160, or
  • by email at RLT@Ontario.ca

Importers are not affected and should continue to require labels on bales and packages of RLT received from their suppliers. All imported RLT must be labelled prior to entering Ontario. The supplier's labels must contain the following information:

  • Name of supplier
  • Jurisdiction of origin
  • Importer's name.

Transporting RLT

O.Reg 271/16 sets out requirements for transporting RLT, including how to provide advance notification to the ministry in certain situations.

In general, businesses transporting RLT (or paying for its transport) in Ontario must notify the ministry at least one business day in advance of their intent to transport it.

Where a producer's RLT is being returned from a dealer, the notice to transport from the dealer to the ministry is sufficient. However, a producer must make a record of all RLT returned from a dealer.

Failure to produce information or documents upon request by a ministry official that support the transport of RLT may result in penalties or fines.

Registrant notifications, including a bill of lading, should be:

Producers transporting RLT between registered locations

A producer is not required to notify the ministry in advance that they are transporting RLT between two of their permitted locations. However, the producer is required to keep a copy of their registration certificate in the vehicle(s) used to transport the RLT.

Note: Possession of a producer's registration certificate is also required for anyone transporting on behalf of the producer.

Producers required to notify the ministry about additional locations

In limited circumstances (e.g., storage issues, fire, loss of power, etc.) where it is vital to move RLT to an unregistered location, producers must notify the ministry as soon as possible and at least 24 hours prior to moving it. All new locations will be subject to inspection.

Once notice is received, the ministry may add the new location to the producer's listing of authorized locations, and where applicable, will issue an amended registration certificate.

Producers can notify the ministry by:

  • Phone: 1‑866‑ONT‑TAXS (1‑866‑668‑8297) extension 16160
  • Email: RLT@Ontario.ca, or
  • Fax: 905‑433‑6650

Dealers, processors and manufacturers

When transporting RLT, dealers, processors and manufacturers must:

  • keep a copy of all applicable registration certificates in the vehicle(s) being used to transport RLT, and
  • have a bill of lading (or uniform manifest form with a listing of information identifying the bales or packages and the marker numbers as required for a bill of landing) in the vehicle(s) being used to transport RLT.

Note: Possession of the above documents applies to persons transporting on behalf of dealers, processors and manufacturers.

Failure to produce information or documents upon request by a ministry official may result in penalties or fines.

Dealers, processors and manufacturers must notify the ministry at least one business day before moving RLT. Registrant notifications, including a bill of lading, should be:

Dealers, processors and manufacturers must ensure that all RLT delivered to receiving stations is weighed and recorded, including any unpurchased RLT being returned.

Importers/exporters

Under the Act, a person intending to bring RLT into, or take out of Ontario, must:

  • keep a copy of all applicable registration certificates issued in the vehicle(s) being used
  • have a bill of lading (or uniform manifest form with a listing of information identifying the bales or packages and the marker numbers as required for a bill of lading) in the vehicle(s) being used
  • provide information to the ministry about the particulars of the tobacco being imported or exported, and
  • provide information to the ministry that is sufficient to satisfy the Minister that the tobacco has been received in Ontario or taken out of Ontario.

Note: Possession of these documents also applies to persons transporting on behalf of importers and exporters.

The Minister requires that importers and exporters notify the ministry at least three business days before importing or exporting RLT.

Notifications should:

  • be faxed to: 905‑433‑6650, or
  • be emailed to: RLT@Ontario.ca, and
  • include confirmation of:
    • date of the import/export
    • point of entry or exit
    • export loading time
    • name and address of seller or purchaser
    • quantity and type of RLT to be imported/exported
    • importing/exporting jurisdiction
    • name and address of carrier.

Importers and exporters are required to submit supporting documentation (e.g., sales invoice, Bill of Lading and/or export declaration form), as soon as possible to the ministry, confirming that the import/export has taken place.

Importers must ensure all RLT delivered to receiving stations is weighed and recorded, including any unpurchased RLT being returned.

Interjurisdictional transporters

When transporting RLT, interjurisdictional transporters must:

  • keep a copy of all applicable registration certificates in the vehicle(s) being used, and
  • have a bill of lading (or uniform manifest form with a listing of information identifying the bales or packages and the marker numbers as required for a bill of lading) in the vehicle(s) being used.

Failure to produce information or documents while stopped or detained by a ministry official may result in penalties of fines.

Recordkeeping and reporting

RLT registrants must maintain good records. They must produce the necessary records upon request to enable the ministry to have accurate and up to date determination of RLT produced, processed, sold, purchased, transported, imported or exported. Failure to do so may result in penalties or fines.

Records must document:

  • information from each bale or package marker
  • damaged, unused, lost or stolen markers, and where applicable, the ministry requests that the remnants of the markers be maintained with the record, and
  • details about waste, off grade, re ‑baled, re‑packaged, re‑worked, damaged, lost or stolen RLT (for example, but not limited to: date piled or re‑baled, weight or estimated weight of waste in the pile, kiln number where the waste was cured, reason for the waste, original bale(s) that make up the new bale or package, etc.).

Records must be supported by source documents to verify the information in the records (for example, but not limited to: invoices, bill of lading; Uniform Manifest Form, evidence of contract for purchase, etc.).

Weights recorded on markers must match the weights recorded in record books. The ministry recommends use of kilograms as the unit of measurement. To convert pounds to kilograms registrants should multiply the number of pounds by 0.454.

Waste and off‑grade RLT

The details of piled waste or off grade RLT must be recorded in business record books. The records must include date piled, estimated weight, reason piled and source kiln or barn and bale or package.

Damaged, lost or stolen RLT

Under the Act, the Minister shall specify the information required for damaged, lost or stolen RLT.

RLT registrants must:

  • notify the ministry of damaged, lost or stolen RLT within one day (after an incident occurs), and
  • submit all supporting documentation to the ministry as soon as those documents become available (e.g., copy of any police and/or insurance report, and proof of the insurance proceeds received in respect of the claim), if any.

All notifications and supporting documentation should be:

Consequences of non‑compliance

Ontario's RLT program includes a range of compliance and enforcement activities.

The Act provides for civil penalties and/or offence provisions for persons who fail to:

  • register
  • notify the ministry of a change to information previously provided
  • bale or package their RLT
  • label their RLT with a marker
  • report RLT activity in Ontario
  • possess documents when transporting RLT, and
  • notify the ministry prior to destroying RLT.

The Act also provides for civil penalties and offence provisions for persons who contravene a condition on their certificates. This includes increased penalties and fines for producers who exceed the limit to the number of acres they can plant in a crop year.

Additionally, ministry officials may seize RLT from persons not in compliance with the Act and regulations. This includes RLT not yet harvested. Where a producer plants more RLT than they are permitted, the ministry may allow the producer to cut down the RLT not yet harvested. Ministry inspectors may require that the cut down is supervised. All cut downs by the producer is at the risk and expense of the person subject to the seizure. If the ministry seizes and disposes of the RLT, it may recover any costs of removal or disposal from that person.

Your opinion counts

If you have any comments or suggestions that could help us improve our web page, we would like to hear from you. Please send your comments to:

Ministry of Finance
Advisory Services, Raw Leaf Tobacco
33 King Street West, 3rd Floor
Oshawa ON L1H 8H5

Related publication

For more information or to notify the ministry

Ministry of Finance, Raw Leaf Tobacco Program

  • Phone: 1‑866‑ONT‑TAXS (1‑866‑668‑8297) extension 16160
  • Email: RLT@Ontario.ca
  • Fax: 905‑433‑6650

This page provides general information about the new requirements (more information can be found in the Tobacco Tax Act and Regulations).

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