IPCPR Legislative | Operating Your Business in Washington

Operating Your Business in Washington


Operating Your Business in Washington

Businesses that purchase, sell, or distribute tobacco products other than cigarettes to retailers for resale in Washington are required to obtain a Tobacco Distributor License by filing a Business License Application and separate Personal/Criminal History Statements for certain individuals with the Washington Business Licensing Service and a Special Tax Registration and Return – Tobacco with the U.S. Department of Treasury, Alcohol, and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau. The application fees are: $650 for the main location; $115 for each branch location; $19 for the Business License Application; and $5 to register the business as a trade name.


Each location at which tobacco products other than cigarettes are sold at retail in Washington is required to obtain a Tobacco Products Retailer License by filing a Business License Application, separate Personal/Criminal History Statements for certain individuals, a $93 application fee for each location, a $19 Business License Application fee, and a $5 fee to register the business as a trade name.


Business License Applications may be completed online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dor/bls/ibla/LogIn.aspx.


All licenses must be renewed annually on or before the expiration date printed on the top right-hand corner of each Business License document. Business Licensing Service will send each business a renewal notice approximately 45 days before the license expires. Licenses may be renewed online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dor/bls/SOLAR/defaultrfi.aspx or by mail.


Wash. Rev. Code. § 82.26.150: Distributor’s license, retailer’s license – Application – Approval – Display.
Wash. Rev. Code. § 82.26.160: Distributor’s license – Application fees.
Wash. Rev. Code. § 82.26.170: Retailer’s license – Application fee.


Tobacco products distributors are required to file monthly Combined Excise Tax Returns with the Washington State Department of Revenue on or before the 25th of each month, along with payment for taxes due. Taxes may be filed and paid online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dor/efile/FortressLogon/Logon.aspx.


Wash. Rev. Code. § 82.32.045: Taxes – When due and payable – Reporting periods – Verified annual returns – Relief from filing requirements.


Washington state law does not provide a smoking ban exemption for tobacco retail stores, cigar bars, or tobacconists.


State law preempts political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing requirements for the licensure and regulation of tobacco product promotions and sales within retail stores, except that political subdivisions that have adopted ordinances prohibiting sampling by January 1, 1993, may continue to enforce these ordinances. No political subdivision may: impose fees or license requirements on retail businesses for possessing or selling cigarettes or tobacco products, other than general business taxes or license fees not primarily levied on tobacco products; or regulate or prohibit youth access or sampling of tobacco products. This preemption does not otherwise preempt political subdivisions from adopting ordinances regulating the sale, purchase, use, or promotion of tobacco products not inconsistent with state law.


Wash. Rev. Code. § 70.155.130: Preemption of political subdivisions.

State of Washington Business Licensing Service: Specialty Licenses


Tobacco Distributor


Business License Application


Personal/Criminal History Statement


Special Tax Registration and Return – Tobacco


Washington State Department of Revenue


Monthly Combined Excise Tax Returns


Combined Excise Tax Return: August 2015


Instructions for Completing the Combined Excise Tax Return

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