Special guidelines for handling import / export of tobacco product shipments

Fairplay Forwarding, a member of the Cosmatos Group of Companies, deals with the sea transport of containers to and from Greece, while it specializes in the transportation of specific commodities such as tobacco and its products.

By tobacco and tobacco products we mean, for reasons of common understanding, dried tobacco, finely chopped tobacco, cigarette, etc.

The transport of tobacco and its products, both import and export wise, includes a range of different types and has several requirements that make it a special transport of goods. Below we will mention the transport procedures, as well as the conditions required so that they can be transported safely.

The packaging of tobacco varies depending on its condition and can be in bundles of leaves, packages, wooden boxes, cardboard boxes, jute bags. Dried tobacco is a perishable product, it is transported in packages or in wooden boxes and is prone to mold growth, as well as insect infestation which causes it to decay. It is subject to a drying process either in special ovens, or in the air and under shade, or in the sun depending on its variety. The product is then fumigated, while in storage, in warehouses with a dry, dark and as waterproof environment as possible. Once the decontamination process is completed, the warehouse is unsealed and the product is well ventilated, followed by the stuffing into the container.

Finely chopped tobacco, as well as cigarettes, are transported in C48 type carton boxes which are stacked on top of each other to cover the entire container. In the case of cigarettes the cartons are usually stacked by hand without the use of pallet trucks to avoid any possible damages to the packaging or to the product.

The transport of tobacco and its products is done mostly in 40-foot containers, as due to the low weight of the cargo we achieve twice the volumetric quantity that a 20-foot container can accommodate. Containers selected for transport must be clean, free of rust, holes, moisture and odor free. The duration of the transport does not affect the quality of the cargo. The quality of the cargo can be affected by the presence of moisture due to a possible hole in the container. This is why the containers must be selected very carefully to avoid possible damage of cargo. For the import or export of tobacco and its products, the importing or exporting company must deposit financial guarantees to the customs office. These guarantees are set according to the quantities of products to be imported or exported.

But how is the amount of import guarantees decided?

At the beginning of each year, the Ministry of Finance announces the imposed duties on tobacco and cigarettes, which are calculated per weight unit, based on the quantities transported the past year. Depending on the amount of duty per unit, each company declares to the respective customs office the quantities of goods to be imported. Subsequently, the customs office sets the amount of guarantees to be deposited from the company for the goods to be imported . Upon receipt of the goods at the company’s customs warehouse, the financial guarantee is released, which can then be used for a possible export of the company. If there is cargo to be exported then the guarantee will be released, when the ship passes the territorial waters of the exporting country. If there is no cargo for export then the guarantee will be reused for a new import of tobacco or tobacco products of the company.