The Government of India established a Regulatory Agency, The Tea Board of India through Section 4 of the Tea Act, 1953 which aims to promote the domestic trade, export, cultivation and processing of tea in India and most importantly providing food license for tea. There are a number of standing committees under Tea Board of India such as the Executive Committee,  the Labour Welfare Committee, the Development Committee, Export Promotion Committee and the Licensing Committee. The Licensing branch of the Tea Board of India is responsible to implement various statutory and regulatory orders issued by the government along with guiding the tea industry with respect to different fiscal policies and legislation and issues several licenses.

Licenses Required

1. Business License

No distributor or exporter can conduct trade in tea without a business food license (food license for tea) granted under the Tea (Distribution and Export) Control Order, 2005.


The exporter or distributor has to apply to the Licensing Authority through Form A.

      • A business license is valid for a period of three years from the date of its issue unless it is canceled or suspended.
      • It may also be renewed for another period of three years.
      • A fee of Rs. 1000 is required to be paid for the issue of a business license.

Permanent License

A licensee wishing to convert their license into a permanent business license has to apply to the Licensing Authority through Form B three months before the expiry of their license.

A business license can be converted into a permanent business license on receipt of the application if-

      • the business licensee is an exporter;
      • such business licensee has not violated any provisions of the Tea Act, 1953 or Tea Rules, 1954 or Tea Board Bye-Laws, 1955 or any Order made under the Act; and
      • the volume of export of tea by the exporter holding the valid business license during the last three years was not less than 1,00,000 kgs annually.

Activities a business license is not required for

A business license is not required for tea exported-

      • By or on behalf of the Central Government or the Tea Board;
      • By means of a postal parcel;
      • As personal effects of passengers;
      • For any non-commercial purposes;
      • As samples of foreign buyers;

2. Exporter’s License

Any person who wishes to trade in tea as an exporter requires an Exporter’s License under the provisions of Tea (Distribution & Export) Control Order, 1957. Under certain amendments made to the Order in 1993, 1995 and subsequently with effect from 2000-

  • An Exporter’s FSSAI Food License(food license for tea), unless suspended or canceled, is valid for 3 years from the date of issue.
  • Every licensee who is an exporter who wishes to convert his license to a Permanent License has to apply to the Licensing Authority through Form CA three months before the expiry of the license.

The License can be converted to a Permanent License if-

  • The licensee is a regular exporter and exports sizeable volume of tea in each year, and
  • Such Licensee has not violated any of the provisions of the Tea Act or Tea Rules, 1954 or any of the Tea (Distribution & Export) Control Order, 1957.

The Permanent License is granted under Form CB with no payment of a license fee.

3. Distribution License

Under the Tea (Distribution & Export) Control Order 2005, no distributor can distribute imported tea except under a valid Distributor’s License(food license for tea).

4. Tea Waste License

  • The granting and renewal of a Tea Waste license(food license for tea) is made under the provisions of the Tea Waste (Control) Order, 1959. No person can purchase, hold, sell or offer for sale any tea waste except in accordance with the terms of the license granted.
  • The License is granted in order to regulate the disposal of tea waste for gainful purposes. It is issued after investigation and scrutiny to bonafide buyers and sellers.
  • It remains valid up to 31st December of the year of issue unless canceled or suspended and can be renewed each year.

5. Tea Warehouse License

The Tea Warehouse License is issued under the Tea Warehouse (Licensing) Order 1989 by the Licensing Branch.

    • An application can be made to the Licensing Authority through Form A.
    • A license issued is valid for a period of three years from the date of issue.

There are certain specifications that the warehouse must conform to for the issue of this license-

    • Shall be fit for tea storage;
    • The walls and the roof may preferably be made of bricks and well plastered, or be made of tins or asbestos, but in any case, the walls and roof must be damp-proof and leak-proof;
    • The floor shall be of pucca construction, properly-cemented and damp-proof ;
    • It shall be properly ventilated, but at the same time protected against pests, rodents, birds, and insects ;
    • There shall be adequate lighting arrangements and electrical fittings should be maintained in good condition ;
    • There shall be an adequate number of gates of appropriate size for easy ingress and egress of tea chests ;
    • The entry/exit gates shall have leak-proof covered sheds to protect against rain damage at the time of loading/unloading of tea chests ;
    • The doors and windows shall be properly secured for the safety of the stored goods ;
    • where the warehouse will store teas other than owned by the licensee, there shall be adequate space for parking/maneuvering of the vehicles carrying teas. The approach road shall be properly maintained and shall have an adequate number of fire-fighting equipment;
    • The warehouse shall store only tea and other materials connected with the storage, blending and packaging of tea. Anything which may adversely affect the quality of tea shall not be kept in the warehouse ;
    • The hygienic condition of the surrounding area adjoining the warehouse shall be properly maintained;
    • No new construction shall be undertaken in an area prone to waterlogging. The existing warehouses shall take proper precaution against the entry of water due to sudden heavy rainfall ;
    • The workers engaged in the manual blending of tea shall wear clean dresses and shall not have any contagious disease.
    • The warehouse must have an adequate number of supervisory, clerical staff and workers depending upon the nature of the business carried out therein and commensurate with the volume of business handled.
    • The Warehouse storing teas not belonging to the licensee shall have the following-
      • Adequate number of watch-and-ward staff ;
      • An adequate number of weighing scales proportionate to the volume of business which the warehouse is capable of handling. Such scales in operation shall be maintained properly to ensure correct reading of weights ;
      • Shall use dumping pads made out of appropriate materials to avoid damage of tea chests while dropping on the floor ;
      • Shall not stock too high which may cause damage to the chests and leave enough space between two rows of stacking for smooth movement of workers and easy identification of chest markings ;
      • There shall be adequate space for office, for receiving, delivery and sorting of teas, for the brokers to draw samples and for blending/packaging of tea, wherever such operations are applicable.

FSSAI Guidelines Regarding Food License for Tea

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI License) has issued exhaustive guidelines(food license for tea) about the sale of flavored and Kangra tea, the labeling for tea products, the composition of tea and the testing and approval of products.

  • The product shall have the characteristic flavor free from any off-odor, mustiness, and taint. It must not include living insects, dead insects, molds, insect fragments and rodent contamination that is visible to the naked eye. The product shall be free from added coloring, harmful substances, and extraneous matter.
  • The tea may contain natural flavors and natural flavoring substances, which are flavor preparations and acceptable for human consumption only if it is obtained by physical processes from the plant origin, either in their natural state or after processing for human consumption in packaged tea only.
  • Tea used in the manufacturing of the flavored tea shall conform to the standards of tea. Also, the tea containing added flavor needs to bear a proper label declaration as provided in the regulation. If the tea manufacturer is providing flavored tea, then they must register with the Tea Board before marketing flavored tea.
  • The tea manufacturers must make sure that the tea is packed and labeled in accordance with FSSAI regulations, whose labeling requirements are extremely stringent. If the requirements are not fulfilled, the manufacturer will be liable for penalties mentioned under the FSS (Packaging and Labelling) regulation, 2011.
  • The label must bear all the relevant and important information before it is ready for sale in the market in a clear, prominent and easily readable format for the consumers. The package must carry a label with the information mentioned below:
    • Common Name of the Product
    • Name and address of the manufacturer
    • Date of manufacturing
    • Expiration Date and Best Before Date
    • Net Weight of the content by volume, weight or count
    • Ingredients details with additives
    • Packaging Codes/ Batch Number
    • Country of origin for imported food

Also, read the related topic: FSSAI License for Canteen