UAE’s Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has announced that import of waterpipe tobacco (Mu’assel) or electrically heated cigarette plugs not bearing the ‘Digital Tax Stamps’ will be prohibited across the Emirates, starting March 1, 2020.
As of March 1. 2020, all Designated Excise Goods outlined in the Decision will no longer be allowed to be imported to the UAE unless they are marked with Digital Tax Stamps. As of June 1, 2020, any supply, transfer, stockpiling, or possession of these products will be banned unless they are marked with Digital Tax Stamps.
Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme
The ban is in keeping with the timeline set for launching phase two of the ‘Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme’, the FTA explained, adding that it serves to protect consumers from commercial fraud and low-quality products. The Scheme is part of FTA’s efforts to collect taxes, combat tax evasion, protect consumers from commercial fraud, prevent the sale of subpar products in local markets, and help protect the environment and public health.
According to FTA Director-General Khalid Ali Al Bustani, this decision is a continuation of phase one, where the sale or possession of any type of cigarette not bearing the Digital Tax Stamps was banned across all local markets in the UAE as of August 1, 2019. The Authority has also started organising a series of training programmes for inspectors from Departments of Economic Development and Customs Agencies across the emirates.
Digital Tax Stamps
Digital Tax Stamps are registered in the FTA database and electronically embedded with data that can be read using a dedicated device, which allows inspectors to verify that all taxes due on these products have been paid, and ensure that products are not counterfeit or illegally supplied. Producers and importers of all types of waterpipe tobacco and electrically heated cigarette plugs can place their orders to purchase Digital Tax Stamps from the system operator – once they are accredited by the Authority – to place them on the packaging of their products before they leave the factory to be supplied to local markets across the UAE.