What is Virginia’s cigarette tax?
It’s an excise tax on the sale of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. For cigarettes, the tax amount is 1.5¢ per cigarette. This equals:
- 30¢ per standard pack (20 cigarettes); or
- $3 per carton
On July 1, 2020, the cigarette tax will increase to:
- 3¢ per cigarette; or
- 60¢ per pack; or
- $6 per carton
Tax on roll-your-own tobacco is 10% of the manufacturer’s sale price.
This tax applies to cigarettes, to include bidis/beedies, and roll-your-own tobacco. Cigars, pipe tobacco, and other tobacco products are subject to the tobacco products tax. (Beginning July 1, 2020, liquid nicotine will also be subject to the tobacco products tax.)
While roll-your-own tobacco is subject to the cigarette tax, it is treated the same way as the tobacco products tax. You’ll find more information on roll-your-own tobacco in that section.
Revenue generated by the cigarette tax and cigarette tax penalties is deposited into the Virginia Health Care Fund.
Who is liable for cigarette tax?
Licensed stamping agents are subject to the tax. Stamping agents pay the tax by buying Virginia Revenue Stamps (aka “cigarette stamps”). They attach a stamp to each pack of cigarettes to show that the tax has been paid for those cigarettes.
Most stamping agents are cigarette wholesalers.
How do you become a stamping agent?
Complete the following and send it to us:
- Form TT-1 Application for Cigarette Stamping Permit and Tobacco Products Tax Distributor's License
- TT-1 Schedule A Personal Data Sheet
There is an application fee of $600 due with the application.
Criminal background checks are also required for:
- The agent’s “principle operatives”:
- any officer
- any director
- any manager
- sole proprietor
- any other person with 10% or more ownership interest
- Anyone who has control over the purchase, storage, sale or distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products; or
- Anyone who has control over compliance with cigarette or tobacco products tax laws.
Any person who assumes one of these roles after the initial application will need to submit a Schedule A within 10 days of assuming the role, and apply for a background check within 30 days. There is a $100 fee for every background check done after the initial application is approved.
Most stamping agents are cigarette wholesalers. However, cigarette manufacturers and retailers can apply to be stamping agents. If an entity has more than one location, a separate license is required for each location.
Where can I get cigarette stamps?
Virginia Tax is the only authorized dealer of Virginia cigarette stamps. Cigarette stamps may be purchased from us by completing Form TT-2, Order for Virginia Cigarette Tax Stamps. Present the completed form with your payment to the Fiscal Office at 1957 Westmoreland Street, Richmond, VA.
Stamps are also available for purchase from the Treasurer's Office of the following localities:
- City of Bristol
- City of Culpeper
- City of Danville
- City of Fairfax
- City of Lynchburg
- City of Roanoke
- City of Waynesboro
Only licensed stamping agents may purchase Virginia cigarette stamps. Stamps may not be resold. The also may not be purchased from, transferred to, or returned to anyone but us.
Please contact the Fiscal Office at 804.367.8465 if you need more information on stamp purchases.
What reports do I have to file?
Virginia Tax Reports
Stamping agents need to file a monthly report of their activity with Virginia Tax. Reports are due on the 20th of the month, and cover activity during the prior month.
Reports Required by Attorney General
All stamping agents and Other Tobacco Products distributors selling roll-your-own tobacco are also required to file a monthly report, Form AG-1 or AG-2, with the Office of the Attorney General. Forms and additional information can be found on the Office of the Attorney General website.
Local Cigarette Taxes
Several Virginia localities levy local cigarette taxes. Contact the local Commissioner of Revenue for information on local tax rates and stamping requirements.
The Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board
Wholesalers selling cigarettes into certain parts of Northern Virginia must be approved by the Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board (NVCTB), in addition to obtaining their Virginia stamping permit. The localities covered by the NVCTB include:
- Fairfax County
- City of Fairfax
- Falls Church
- Manassas Park
- Round Hill
A special "dual" tax stamp must be attached to cigarette packs intended for sale in NVCTB communities. The NVCTB is authorized to seize cigarettes and issue fines against anyone found possessing or transporting unstamped or improperly stamped cigarettes within communities in their jurisdiction.
For more information, including tax rates and other compliance requirements, visit the NVCTB website or call 703.802.0373.
Exemptions to Stamping Requirement
All packs of cigarettes must be stamped prior to shipping them to either other wholesaler distributors or retail outlets. There are 3 exceptions to the stamping requirement.
- Cigarettes sold to a dealer for resale in another state, provided the cigarettes are stamped with the other state’s revenue stamps;
- Cigarettes sold to the United States government or any instrumentality thereof for resale to members of the armed forces;
- Cigarettes sold to commercial ships for sale or consumption on those ships.
Unstamped and Illegal Cigarettes
All packs of cigarettes must be stamped prior to shipping them to either other wholesaler distributors or retail outlets, unless they meet the exceptions discussed above. Stamping agents are subject to a $250,000 penalty for failure to properly affix the stamps. We may also revoke the stamping agent's permit.
It shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud when the number of unstamped cigarettes is the greater of 30 packs, or 5 percent of the cigarette inventory in the place of business of such person or business. Notwithstanding these threshold limits, if the number of unstamped packs exceeds 500 packs, it shall be prima facie evidence of willful intent to defraud. Each pack not having proper stamps affixed is deemed a separate offense.
Only cigarette brands approved by the Office of the Attorney General, and listed in the Tobacco Directory, can be sold in Virginia. It’s illegal to stamp or sell any brand not listed in the directory.
You can’t purchase, sell or distribute into Virginia cigarettes intended to be sold outside of the United States, or that are otherwise prohibited by federal law. These are typically marked “US Tax Exempt", "For Sale Outside US Only" or other similar wording. Purchasing, selling or distributing these cigarettes in Virginia is a Class 5 felony. In addition to criminal penalties, you may also be assessed a civil penalty equal to 500% of the cigarette’s value, or $5,000, whichever is greater. We may also seize the cigarettes.
You’re considered to be involved with cigarette trafficking if you have in your possession:
- more than 3 cartons (30 packs) of unstamped cigarettes; or
- more than 25 cartons (5,000 packs) of stamped cigarettes
Anyone other than an “authorized holder” possessing more than 25 cartons of tax-paid cigarettes with the intent to distribute is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor for a first offense and guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for a subsequent offense. They’re also subject to civil penalties up to $50,000, and we may seize the cigarettes.
An “authorized holder” is a:
- cigarette manufacturer
- wholesaler dealer
- licensed stamping agent
- cigarette retailer or
- a licensed common carrier
“Tax-paid cigarettes” are cigarettes that:
- bear valid Virginia cigarette tax stamps or
- were purchased outside of Virginia, with the tax being paid to the other state
For more information, please see
General Assistance, Permit or Reporting Information
Virginia Department of Taxation
P.O. Box 715
Richmond, VA 23218-0715
Stamp Purchasing Information
Virginia Department of Taxation
Virginia Tobacco Directory, Certified Brands
Office of the Attorney General
900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Cigarette and Tobacco Tax Forms
Virginia Tax cigarette tax forms can be found in our Forms Library.