California Cigarette & Tobacco Product Retailer's License

Tobacco Product Retailers License

Learn what you must do to be properly licensed and how much it will cost.

California Business & Professions Code Sections 22971-22973



Effective January 1, 2017

The California Cigarette & Tobacco Products Retailer’s License is $265/annually per location.


As a retailer of cigarettes and/or tobacco products, you must:

  • Obtain a Seller’s Permit.
  • Maintain a valid California & Tobacco Products Retailer’s License.
  • Conspicuously display your license at each retail location in a manner visible to the public.
  • Submit a California Resale Certificate to your distributor or supplier.
  • Keep complete and legible purchase invoices for cigarettes and tobacco products for four (4) years.
  • Keep purchase invoices at each licensed location for at least one year after the date of the purchase or sale.
  • Allow the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) staff or law enforcement officers to review your purchase invoices upon request.
  • Purchase and sell only those cigarettes and roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco authorized in sale in California as listed on the Office of the Attorney General’s California Tobacco Directory.
  • Purchase cigarettes and tobacco products only from California licensed distributors or wholesalers. Retailers many not purchase cigarettes or tobacco products from other retailers. Wholesalers may not purchase their products directly from an importer or manufacturer. Retailers with a distributors license may not purchase from a manufacturer or importer who carries a distributors license.
  • Only purchase cigarettes affixed with valid California tax stamps and California tobacco products tax-paid products.


The cigarette and tobacco products purchase invoices you receive from distributors and/or wholesalers must be legible and include the following information:

  • The name, address, telephone number, and license number of the distributor or wholesaler from whom you purchased the cigarettes or tobacco products (it is illegal to buy cigarettes or tobacco products from a person who does not have a license). 
  • Your name, address, and cigarette and tobacco products retailer's license number. 
  • An itemized list of the cigarettes or tobacco products purchased. Cigarettes must be listed by the brand and style names, flavor, filter, and/or packaging when applicable, number of cartons or packs sold, and the sales price. Tobacco products must be listed by brand, type (such as pipe, cigars, or roll-your-own), flavor, packaging (such as pouches, tins, or boxes), quantity sold, and sales price. 
  • The date you purchased the cigarettes or tobacco products. 
  • The amount of California cigarette and tobacco products taxes due to the CDTFA by the distributor on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products listed on the invoice. Note: a licensed distributor may include this statement instead of providing the amount of cigarette and tobacco products taxes due to the CDTFA: "All California cigarette and tobacco products taxes are included in the total amount of this invoice." 


Many cities in California have passed ordinances that require tobacco retailers to obtain a local license, in addition to the state required license, to sell tobacco products.


Please note that each city ordinance has different requirements and fees associated to obtain a local tobacco license. For more information, visit your county website or contact your county official.


The following cities have an ordinance in place which requires an additional local license to sell tobacco products:

pdfCities Requiring Local Licenses

This website and all of its published content is strictly for users age 21 or above. Not all legal requirements related to tobacco products are discussed in the contents of this site. Please remember that it is your responsibility to comply with all applicable provisions of the FD&C Act, and other federal, state, or local requirements that apply to you.
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