Selling Tobacco in the Netherlands 

Selling Tobacco in the Netherlands

The Dutch smoking tobacco market is the second largest in Europe and thus one of the most important markets for predominantly cigarette tobacco. In 2018, smoking tobacco for hand-rolled cigarettes and pipes accounted for more than a third of tobacco consumption in the Netherlands.

The tobacco market in the Netherlands has been dominated by two major multinational tobacco companies, however, recently private manufacturers and brands have become very successful. Due to extensive production, the Netherlands is a major export hub for tobacco products.


The Dutch tobacco market has become immensely prohibitive, with very strict laws governing the sale and promotion of tobacco and related products. The government introduced even tighter laws and regulations between June and January 2021 that aims to inhibit the sales of tobacco products even further, such as plain packaging, a ban on flavored tobacco products, and a ban on the display of tobacco products in shops, bars and gas stations. These regulations apply to both physical and online retail.


Rules and regulations pertaining to the sale of tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) are laid out in the Dutch Tobacco Act (Tabakswet) and enforced by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Companies manufacturing or selling tobacco have to comply with these rules, otherwise face large fines by the NVWA who may perform ‘mystery shopper’-type inspections.

Starting a tobacco business in the Netherlands

  • Before starting a business in the Netherlands, you have to register a company with the Dutch Trade Register, including the mandatory NACE (Nomenclature of Economic Activities) number. For tobacco businesses, the numbers are as follows (depending on the type):
    Section C; Division 12; Group 12.0; Class 12.00.
    Section G; Division 46, 47; Group 46.3, 47.2; Class 46.35, 47.26

- All tobacco businesses must comply with the following regulations:

- Regulations for Tobacco Shops and Tobacco Sales Outlets

- Regulations on the Supervision of Compliance with the Tobacco Law

- Decree on the Labelling of Tobacco Products.

  • Retailers who wish to sell tobacco products outside of the Netherlands (but within the European Economic Area (EEA) must register with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Note that certain countries within the EEA do not allow cross-border tobacco sales.

Why the Netherlands with this service

  • Despite the tight restrictions, the Dutch tobacco market remains very lucrative, with more than 6,000 tons of tobacco consumed in 2018.

  • The rise of private manufacturers and brands has made entry into the market a lot easier.

  • The Netherlands has a tradition of hand-rolling cigarettes


Do you want to sell tobacco in the Netherlands? Speak to one of our experts now!


The tobacco industry can be difficult to navigate, but INCO is experts at business development in the Netherlands, including the tobacco industry. We offer invaluable advice and guidance and provide you with a unique Business Toolkit to help you to understand the Dutch market, the relevant rules, and regulations, as well as appropriate tax laws and legal practices.


Inco Business GroupToolkit



Our experts have combined their knowledge and strengths to create a tool we call the Business Toolkit.

The Business Toolkit will help you and entrepreneurs from around the globe to truly understand the Dutch market, regulations and laws. And will enable you to take a deep-dive the many business-related topics.

This way you will easily get up to speed with our Company formation process, Dutch Tax & Accounting and our corporate services. 

Make sure to check out our handy checklists, explainer video's and extensively written Whitepapers too!