California Cigarette & Tobacco Product Distributor's License

Cigarette & Tobacco Product Licenses for Distributors

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 Distributor's License is $1200/annually per location. 


Distributors of cigarettes or tobacco products must: 

  • Obtain a Seller's Permit.
  • Obtain and maintain a valid California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Distributor's License and account.
  • Maintain complete and legible cigarette and tobacco products purchase and sales records for four (4) years.
  • Keep purchase and sales records at each licensed location for a least one year after the date of purchase or sale.
  • Allow California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) staff or law enforcement officers to review your sales and purchase records upon request.
  • Purchase and sell only cigarettes and roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco authorized for sale in California as listed on the Office of the Attorney General's California Tobacco Directory.


  • Make sure that sales invoices meet all legal requirements. Each sales invoice must be legible and include the following information:Your name, address, telephone number, and your distributor's license number.
    • The name, address, and license number of the business purchasing the cigarettes or tobacco products. You may not legally sell cigarettes or tobacco products to an unlicensed buyer or purchase them from an unlicensed seller.
    • The date you sold the cigarettes or tobacco products.
    • An itemized list of the cigarettes or tobacco products sold. 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 amount of California cigarette and tobacco products taxes due to the CDTFA by the distributor on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products. However, a distributor that is also a retailer or manufacturer must include either one of the following on each invoice for the sale of cigarettes or tobacco products:
      • A statement that reads: "All California cigarette and tobacco products taxes are included in the total amount of this invoice."
      • The amount of cigarette and tobacco products taxes due to the CDTFA by the distributor on the distribution of cigarettes and tobacco products.
      • A statement that identifies any cigarettes or tobacco products sold without tax under Revenue and Taxation Code section 30105 (only if you are a distributor that is an original importer of the tobacco products you are selling).
  • File tax returns, reports, and/or schedules. See Returns and Reports in the Getting Started section for more information.

For more information visit: California Cigarette & Tobacco Products Licensing Act of 2003 - Distributor's License FAQs 

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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