The traceability system enables the monitoring of tobacco products across the supply chain (tracking) and, enables authorities to determine potential points of diversion from or into the supply chain (tracing).

Traceability is only possible if tobacco products are marked with unique identifier (UI) codes (containing predefined information – such as origin and date of manufacture, destination etc.). This enables their identification, tracking and tracing throughout the supply chain, and the transmission of related information to a data storage facility.

The UI is an alphanumeric code, which is encoded in a data carrier for the purpose of machine readability (e.g. scanning). Data carriers often take the form of an optical (one or two-dimensional) barcode, which is irremovably applied to the product package.