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Tax and Revenue Administration
Alberta Tobacco Tax Act
Information Circular  TTA-7

Released: February 9, 2017
Produced by: Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, Tax and Revenue Administration
For more information: tra.revenue@gov.ab.ca

TTA-7 / September 2006


The Tobacco Tax Amendment Regulation (December 15, 2011) implements changes to Alberta's tobacco marking requirements. They come into effect April 1, 2012. For more information, see Special Notice Vol. 3 No. 14, Changes to Tobacco Marking Requirements. Tobacco tax publications are in the process of being updated to reflect the new stamping regime.

NOTE: This Information Circular is intended to explain legislation and provide specific information. Every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate. However, if a discrepancy should occur in interpretation between this Information Circular and governing legislation, the legislation takes precedence.

The Government of Alberta recognizes that many First Nations people and communities in the province prefer not to describe themselves as Indians/Indian bands. These terms have been used where necessary to reflect their legal meaning in the federal Indian Act.

This Information Circular explains the guidelines Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA) follows in administering the Tobacco Tax Act (the Act) when consumers purchase tobacco in Alberta, receive tobacco from outside Alberta, or bring tobacco into Alberta. The topics in this circular include:

Consumers Purchasing Tobacco in Alberta

  1. Consumers purchase tobacco in Alberta from either a tobacco retailer or a registered tobacco importer. The Alberta tobacco tax is included in the purchase price of the tobacco. Cigarettes, tobacco sticks and fine cut tobacco sold in Alberta must bear Alberta markings – red tear tape or stickers. Pipe tobacco, cigars, raw leaf tobacco, chewing tobacco, and snuff sold in Alberta are not marked.

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Consumers Possessing Tobacco in Alberta

  1. For both marked and unmarked tobacco, the Act prohibits a consumer from possessing without a permit:

    • more than 1000 cigarettes,
    • more than 1000 tobacco sticks,
    • more than 1000 grams of fine cut tobacco,
    • cigars that contain more than 1000 grams of tobacco, or
    • any combination of tobacco containing more than1000 grams of tobacco.
  1. TRA considers persons who possess more than these quantities without a permit to be retailers. A consumer can apply to TRA for a permit to possess more than the quantities noted above. The application should state the reasons for requiring the excess quantities and the use that will be made of the tobacco.

  2. TRA can refuse to issue a permit, or cancel an existing permit:

    • where the consumer has:
      • contravened the Act or regulations;
      • contravened any other Act or regulation of Alberta that imposes any tax;
      • failed to comply with the terms or conditions of a previous permit; or
    • if TRA believes the tobacco will not be handled in accordance with the Act, regulations, or terms and conditions of the permit.

  3. A voucher issued to an eligible Indian consumer under the Alberta Indian Tax Exemption program or a receipt issued by a duty-free shop is deemed to be a permit.

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Consumers Receiving Tobacco from Outside Alberta

  1. Shipping by mail or courier from outside Canada to a consumer in Alberta generally constitutes non-commercial importation of tobacco. Alberta and the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) entered into an agreement effective September 1, 2003 for CBSA to collect Alberta tobacco tax on non-commercial tobacco imports. It is illegal to mail tobacco products within Canada.

  2. When tobacco sent by courier or mail to an Alberta consumer is received in Canada, the CBSA assesses the applicable Alberta tobacco tax. The tax will be collected from the consumer when the tobacco is delivered to the consumer. Alberta tax will apply to all shipments because importation of tobacco by mail or courier does not qualify for the postal/courier Remission Order nor is the tobacco eligible for the gift exemption.

Consumers Bringing Tobacco into Alberta

Tobacco from Outside Canada

  1. Alberta tobacco tax applies to tobacco imported into Alberta by residents returning to Canada where the quantity of tobacco being imported exceeds, or does not qualify for, the federal traveller's customs exemption. To be eligible for the federal traveller's exemption the consumer must have been outside Canada for forty-eight hours or longer. The current customs exemption for tobacco is:

    • 200 cigarettes,
    • 200 tobacco sticks,
    • 200 grams of manufactured tobacco, and
    • 50 cigars or cigarillos.

  2. Any cigarettes, tobacco sticks or manufactured tobacco imported into Alberta must be marked “CANADA DUTY-PAID · A DROIT ACQUITTE”. If the products do not bear this marking they are not eligible for the exemption and will be taxed.

Tobacco from Other Provinces or Territories

  1. Consumers returning to Alberta with tobacco purchased in another province or territory are required to report the importation and pay Alberta tobacco tax to TRA within 10 days, unless the consumer has been out of Alberta for a period of forty-eight hours or more, in which case the federal exemption limits may apply, as discussed above. No exemption is available unless the cigarettes, tobacco sticks or manufactured tobacco are stamped or marked federally or provincially.

  2. The return for reporting importation of tobacco from other provinces or territories (form AT208) is available on the Tobacco Tax Forms page.

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Possession Limits - Tobacco Not Alberta-marked

  1. Under the Act consumers are limited to the amount of tobacco not marked for tax paid sale in Alberta that they can possess. The limit is:

    • 200 cigarettes,
    • 200 tobacco sticks, or
    • 200 grams of manufactured tobacco

    unless the consumer provides evidence that Alberta tax has been paid on the tobacco, or the consumer is an eligible Indian.
  1. Consumers should retain the receipt, issued by the CBSA, showing they have paid Alberta tobacco tax on the tobacco imported, or retain a copy of the return filed with TRA reporting the tobacco tax paid when the tobacco was brought into Alberta from another province or territory. The receipt or copy of the return will be proof that the tax on the tobacco in their possession has been paid.

  2. Indians who possess tobacco not marked for tax paid sale in Alberta should retain the voucher issued under the Alberta Indian Tax Exemption program as proof of their eligibility to possess.

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