Indian Tobacco and Its Export Market: Top Importers, A Comprehensive Guide 2024

In this blog, we embark on a fascinating exploration of India’s tobacco export landscape. We’ll traverse through the annals of history, unraveling the tapestry of this illustrious industry. Along the way, we’ll shine a light on the top importers who eagerly embrace the essence of Indian tobacco, recognizing its unparalleled character and quality.

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India’s journey in the realm of tobacco is rich with heritage and excellence. With its distinctive aroma and unparalleled qualities, Indian tobacco stands tall on the global stage, enchanting taste connoisseurs far and wide. From the sun-kissed plains of Andhra Pradesh to the fertile soils of Gujarat, India’s diverse landscapes nurture a plethora of tobacco varieties, each with its charm and allure.

But our journey doesn’t stop there. We’ll navigate the labyrinth of export regulations and support systems, offering invaluable guidance to both seasoned traders and aspiring entrepreneurs alike. Whether you’re steeped in the traditions of the tobacco trade or just dipping your toes into its aromatic waters, this guide is your compass in the vast ocean of Indian tobacco exports.

Major Markets | Top Importers of Indian Tobacco

The alluring scent and unmistakable character of Indian tobacco have traversed continents, tantalizing taste buds far and wide. But where does this symphony of flavors find its most ardent admirers? Let’s embark on a voyage across the map and uncover the top importers of Indian tobacco:

The Powerhouses of the East:

  • Russia: A long-standing importer, Russia embraces the bold and robust essence of Indian tobacco, a cornerstone in traditional cigarette blends.
  • China: As a major cigarette producer, China embraces Indian tobacco to craft an array of blends, catering to diverse flavor palates.
  • Japan: Known for its discerning taste in tobacco, Japan imports high-quality Indian tobacco for its domestic market.

Aromatic Hubs of the Middle East:

  • United Arab Emirates (UAE): UAE is among India’s top tobacco importers. UAE has around 19.76 % of the total Exports from India. UAE Is a pivotal re-export hub, the UAE bridges Indian tobacco to myriad markets across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Beyond Borders:

  • Bangladesh: Geographical proximity and cultural similarities, Bangladesh emerges as a significant importer, employing Indian tobacco in both cigarettes and chewing tobacco products.
  • Indonesia: Sharing roots in tobacco cultivation, Indonesia seeks out specific Indian varieties to infuse distinctive flavors into its cigarette blends.

A Selective West:

  • European Union (EU): Belgium is the biggest importer of tobacco in the European Union at around 18.57 % of the total Exports from India. While stringent regulations govern the EU tobacco market, select European Countries like Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and France import specific Indian tobacco for both industrial and consumer purposes.

Understanding the preferences of these esteemed importers is paramount for Indian tobacco exporters. By crafting offerings that align with market demands, the exquisite flavors of Indian tobacco can find a warm embrace on the global stage, enriching palates and traditions alike.

Also Read | How to Start Exports

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Benefits of Tobacco Board Membership: Your Gateway to Success

Since its inception in 1986, the Tobacco Board of India has been a cornerstone in fostering the growth of the Indian tobacco industry. Becoming a member opens doors to a plethora of advantages for exporters:

Market Access and Promotion:

Gain entry to prestigious international trade fairs and engaging buyer-seller meets. Access marketing resources that amplify your visibility, paving the way for fruitful connections with potential buyers.

Technical Assistance and Training:

Tap into a wealth of expert knowledge through specialized training programs. From cultivation techniques to navigating complex export regulations, equip yourself with the skills needed to meet global standards and ensure consistent quality.

Certification Schemes:

Leverage the Tobacco Board’s esteemed certification schemes, such as the Modified Stemming Scheme (MSS) and Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) Tobacco Grading Scheme. These certifications not only boost the credibility of your tobacco but also enhance its allure in international markets.

Dispute Settlement Support:

Should export-related disputes arise, rest assured that the Tobacco Board stands by your side. Benefit from their expertise and guidance, ensuring smooth resolution during intricate international trade transactions.

Tobacco Board Membership: Fees, Validity and Documentation

The Tobacco Board plays a pivotal role in facilitating the export of tobacco and tobacco products, ensuring that exporters meet the necessary standards and regulations. Here’s a breakdown of the process for obtaining a Registration-cum-Membership Certificate (RCMC) from the Tobacco Board:

Application Process:

Those wishing to apply for an RCMC should already be registered with the Tobacco Board as exporters under the relevant category. The application process for RCMC has been streamlined through the e-RCMC platform of DGFT (Directorate General of Foreign Trade) since March 1, 2022. Applicants can access the platform at and follow the detailed registration and application process provided there.

Document Requirements:

  • For the “Manufacturer Exporter” category: Self-certified copies of evidence demonstrating manufacturing activity.
  • For Renewal/Amendment: Self-certified copy of previously issued RCMC certificate.
  • Evidence of manufacturing activity (if applying as a Manufacturer Exporter), such as a license issued by the Industries Department or UDYAM registration.

Registration Validity:

RCMC is granted for 5 years, starting from the 1st of April of the licensing year in which the license was issued.

Changes in Information:

In the event of any changes in ownership, constitution, name, or address of an exporter, the RCMC holder must inform the Registering Authority within one month from the date of such change.

Issuance Timeline:

For issues, an RCMC is within about five working days from the date of application, provided that the application is complete and meets all requirements.

Indian Government Initiatives for Tobacco Exports

India, with its deep-rooted agricultural heritage, stands tall in the global tobacco export arena. Across generations, our diverse tobacco strains, nurtured with care and expertise, have found resonance with connoisseurs worldwide. Yet, achieving success on the global stage demands a collective effort. The Indian government plays a pivotal role in bolstering tobacco exports through several initiatives. Let’s embark on a journey through three pivotal schemes designed to empower both exporters and farmers:

Duty Drawback Scheme: Reclaiming Tax on Inputs

The Duty Drawback Scheme (DBK) extends a much-needed financial lift to exporters. It enables them to recoup customs and excise duties paid on imported inputs used in crafting export-worthy tobacco products. This not only eases the financial burden but also sharpens the competitive edge of Indian tobacco exports.

Key Benefits of DBK:

  • Bolsters cash flow by refunding taxes paid upfront.
  • Boosts export competitiveness by slashing production costs.
  • Encourages value-added exports by incentivizing the processing of tobacco leaves.

Interest Equalization Scheme (IES): Leveling the Field

The Interest Equalization Scheme (IES) strives to bridge the gap between pre-shipment credit rates in India and competing nations. By curbing borrowing costs, it facilitates exporters’ access to working capital, nurturing a conducive environment for growth.

Key Empowerments of IES:

  • Eases the financial load of pre-shipment credit, a linchpin of export financing.
  • Positions exporters to vie effectively with global counterparts benefiting from lower borrowing expenses.
  • Sparks investment in tobacco exports by enhancing financial appeal.

Tobacco Growers Welfare Scheme: Supporting the Backbone of the Industry

The Tobacco Growers Welfare Scheme acknowledges the indispensable role of farmers in driving industry success. It extends financial aid and support services to tobacco cultivators nationwide, fortifying their livelihoods and resilience.

Farmers’ Scheme Benefits:

  • Grants financial aid for enhanced cultivation practices and infrastructure enhancement.
  • Facilitates access to training initiatives on cutting-edge farming methodologies and quality control protocols.
  • Elevates living standards for tobacco farmers, augmenting income streams and overall well-being.

Through these initiatives, the Indian government cultivates a collaborative ecosystem, empowering exporters and farmers alike. This shared odyssey strengthens India’s foothold in the global tobacco export arena, ensuring sustained prosperity for all stakeholders.

Contact Details of Tobacco Board

Head Quarter of Tobacco Board

G.T.Road, Srinivasarao Thota
GUNTUR- 522 004
Andhra Pradesh,
Tel: 0863- 2358399

Regional Offices of Tobacco Board

Regional Manager (S.B.S.)
House No. 37-1-410 (25) South Bi-Pass Road End
ONGOLE – 523 001, Prakasam District, A.P.
Tel: 08592-233359

Regional Manager (S.L.S.)
House No. 37-1-410 (25), (Up-Stairs)
South Bi-Pass Road End
ONGOLE – 523 001, Prakasam District, A.P.
Tel: 08592-281359

Regional Manager
Behind Street of City Cable Chanel Road
Danavaipet RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM- 533 103
East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh
Tel: 0883-2442563

Regional Manager
H.No: CA-5673/C,
14th Main, 2nd Stage, Vijayanagar,
Near Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple,
MYSURU- 570017,

Regional Manager
29, Gonikoppa Main Road
District, Karnataka State
Tel: 08223-273089

FAQs on Tobacco Board

  1. Q: Is tobacco export legal from India?

    Ans: Yes, tobacco export is legal from India, but it’s a heavily regulated industry. Strict government regulations and international trade controls apply.

  2. Q: What licenses and permits are required for tobacco export?

    Ans: You need the following licenses
    Exporter’s License from the Government of India and a
    Registration Certificate from the Tobacco Board of India (TBI).
    Export Permit from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is necessary, based on specific requirements.

  3. Q: What are the ethical considerations surrounding tobacco export?

    Ans: Exporting tobacco products involves significant health risks. Ethical implications must be carefully considered before entering this industry.

  4. Q: What are the key steps involved in exporting tobacco from India?

    Ans: Securing necessary licenses and permits,
    Sourcing high-quality tobacco meeting international standards and buyer specifications.
    Ensure proper packaging and labeling that complies with international regulations.
    Find reliable international buyers, considering import restrictions in target markets.
    Arrange customs clearance, logistics, and documentation.

  5. Q: Does the Tobacco Board offer any support to exporters?

    Ans: Yes, the TBI provides various support services, including
    Registration and guidance on export procedures,
    Market research, and intelligence reports,
    Participation in trade fairs and buyer-seller meets.
    Quality control and certification schemes for Indian tobacco.

  6. Q: Which countries are the major importers of Indian tobacco?

    Ans: United Arab Emirates (re-export hub)

  7. Q: What are some challenges faced by Indian tobacco exporters?

    Ans: Stringent anti-smoking regulations in many countries impact import possibilities.
    Competition from major tobacco producers like Brazil and China.
    Fluctuations in global tobacco prices.
    Increasing awareness of health risks, associated with tobacco use.
    Complexities of international trade regulations and documentation.

  8. Q: Where can I find information on tobacco export regulations in India?

    Ans: The Tobacco Board of India website ( provides details on regulations, procedures, and support services for exporters.
    Government export promotion agencies offer guidance on export procedures and documentation.

  9. Q: Are there any ethical considerations for sourcing information on tobacco export?

    Ans: Exercise caution regarding websites promoting dubious practices or overlooking health concerns. Rely on reliable sources from government agencies and reputable industry associations.

  10. Q: What are some alternative agricultural exports I could consider?

    Ans: India’s diverse agricultural sector offers various options like spices, tea, coffee, or basmati rice, with strong export potential and potentially fewer ethical considerations.


The world of Indian tobacco export offers a unique blend of tradition, international trade, and navigating regulations. By understanding the top importers, the valuable support system offered by the Tobacco Board, and the ethical considerations, you can embark on a successful journey in this industry. Remember, thorough research and careful consideration are the compasses guiding your journey into tobacco exports.

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