At Eskander Loshak LLP, we take pride in our ability to meet the legal needs of clients currently engaged in, or planning to engage in, business throughout South Florida. Sometimes this means that we’re working with clients that are already established here, and sometimes it means we’re working with clients from other parts of the country or world who want to establish businesses here. Because we strive to be a fully cloud-based law firm and utilize the latest modern communication technology, we’re even able to help clients outside the United States. For instance, we recently assisted one of our business clients located in the Middle East secure approval to import tobacco and tobacco products from Central America into Florida. Here’s what you should know if you’re also interested in importing tobacco into Florida for resale.
How Does The Government Classify Tobacco Or Tobacco Products?
The following are also classified as tobacco products in accordance with federal law:
- Smokeless tobacco (snuff and chewing tobacco)
Although they are not classified as tobacco products, you can import e-cigarettes and “vapes” as long as you comply with applicable regulations regarding nicotine- warning labels.
However, the Tobacco Control Act prohibits the import of any cigarette with a “characterizing flavor.” Although this rule does not include menthol, it usually applies to the flavored smokes otherwise known as “Bidis,” whether they are used for personal use or not.
Personal And Commercial Use
U.S. law allows anyone who is at least 21 to import certain tobacco products for personal use. However, the law caps the amount of cigarettes that can be imported for this purpose at 200 cigarettes (2 cartons or 20 packs) and caps the number of cigars at 100. There are variations on this rule that may allow you to bring more into the United States as a traveler, but this exception is contingent upon where you are coming from and where you got the cigarettes.
U.S. law also stipulates that anyone importing tobacco products for anything other than personal use (to sell or otherwise distribute them) must have a permit issued the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Within this context, it is important to point out that you could feasibly use the permit to import more cigarettes & cigars for personal use, but this would still require compliance with the same rules necessary to obtain the permit for commercial use.
How Do I Get A Permit?
According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, all you need to do is fill out an application and provide the required documents.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. At the very least, you must submit the following documents:
- TTB F 2093 (5200.3), Application for a Permit As a Manufacturer of Tobacco Products or an Export Warehouse Proprietor
- TTB F 5200.26, Tobacco Bond – Surety (TWO ORIGINALS, NO PHOTOCOPIES)
- TTB F 5000.9, Personnel Questionnaire, for each officer, director, or stockholder of more than 10 percent in a corporation; individual owner; partner; or member/manager of a limited liability company. (SINGLE COPY FOR EACH PERSON)
- TTB F 5000.29, Environmental Information
- TTB F 5000.30, Supplemental Information on Water Quality Considerations
- A diagram of the factory premises.
There are more forms to be completed and filed based on your business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC or corporation), type of partnership agreement (verbal or written), and whether or not you are signing the documents yourself.
You can learn more about applying for a Tobacco Import Permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Don’t Take Any Chances – Contact Us To Schedule A Consultation Now
As with any application or legal undertaking, many people are tempted to venture the application process on their own. To those who do, we wish you the best of luck. To the remaining individuals and business owners who prefer to have an experienced professional handle the entire process from start to finish, saving time and money along the way, contact the knowledgeable alcohol beverage & tobacco attorneys at Eskander Loshak LLP. Call us now at (954) 334-1122.