Tobacco leaf regulation

The legislation on the purchase of tobacco leaves

French legislation may seem rather vague, but raw tobacco leaves are not considered as manufactured tobacco. Their purchase, even on the internet, is therefore authorised. However, it is common to hear or read the opposite, and rightly so. Here is an overview of the French regulations.

The fiscal and economic regime, as well as the rules relating to the circulation, possession and trade of tobacco products are governed by Articles 564 decies to 575 M of the General Tax Code, as well as by the Customs Code. These legal provisions are very numerous and precise. They describe in detail and regulate the manufacture, import, purchase, sale, transport, possession and even prices of tobacco throughout France.

Article 568:

"The retail sales monopoly is entrusted to the administration, which exercises it, under conditions and according to procedures laid down by decree, through the intermediary of tobacconists designated as its agents and subject to a licence fee, holders of the status of purchaser-reseller mentioned in the last paragraph, or through the intermediary of resellers who are required to obtain their supplies of manufactured tobacco exclusively from thetobacconists designated above.


Article 568b states:

"The distance selling of manufactured tobacco products, including when the purchaser is located abroad, is prohibited in mainland France and in the overseas departments. The acquisition, introduction from another Member State of the European Union or importation from third countries of manufactured tobacco products in the context of distance selling is also prohibited in mainland France and the overseas departments.


As we told you in our newsletter at the end of January, tobacco leaves are not manufactured tobacco products.


Article 564i states that:

" Are assimilated to manufactured tobacco:

  1. Products intended to be smoked, snuffed or chewed, even if only partially made of tobacco;
  2. Cigarettes and smoking products, even if they do not contain tobacco, with the sole exception of products intended for medicinal use.

These products are specified and defined inAnnex II, art. 275 A to 275 G:

" The following are considered to be manufactured tobacco:

  1. Cigars and cigarillos;
  2. Cigarettes;
  3. Fine-cut tobacco for rolling cigarettes;
  4. Other smoking tobacco;
  5. Snuff ;
  6. Chewing tobacco,

as defined in Articles 275 B to 275 G.


The following are considered as other smoking tobacco:


1° Tobacco cut or otherwise split, spun or pressed into slabs, which may be smoked as it is without further industrial processing, where at least 75% by weight of the tobacco particles have a cut width of not less than 1.5 millimetres;


2° Tobacco refuse packaged for retail sale, where at least 75% by weight of the tobacco particles have a cut width of 1.5 millimetres or more;


3. Paragraph deleted.


4° Tobacco that can be smoked as it is, without further industrial processing, other than that mentioned in 1° and 2° and in Article 275 E, regardless of the way it is presented.


Since it does not fit either of these definitions, tobacco leaves are therefore not considered to be manufactured tobacco and are not subject to the legislation on manufactured tobacco and tobacco products. Their sale and purchase, even remotely over the internet, is therefore permitted.



Disclaimer: Although we are experts in the tobacco leaf trade, we are not experts in Customs law. Although they have been checked several times with the customs service (notably on 19/01/21 and 30/03/21), the above information has no legal value, is given for information purposes only and does not engage our responsibility. Moreover, it is likely to change at any time, which is why, although we try to keep it up to date, we invite you to check it with the competent authorities before any purchase.