Fedopress adopts Xeikon 3500 for fiscal duty stamp printing

Press release from the issuing company

Belgian Finance Department Print Supplier Takes Printing Of Tobacco Duty Stamps In-House To Increase Security And Efficiency And Lower Costs
Eede,the Netherlands – Fedopress, the official print supplier to the Belgian Federal Public Service FINANCE, has taken previously outsourced services in-house following investment in a Xeikon digital printing solution comprising of a Xeikon 3500 digital five-colour press and digital front-end workflow solution X-800.

Fedopress’s core business is the production of transactional documents, providing 25 million dispatches. In addition, the company produces a range of printed products including manuals, forms and brochures, as well as supplying material for government institutions, such as the Finance Department.

Switch to Digital

Prior to investing in the Xeikon equipment, Fedopress was outsourcing the production of fiscal stamps, which was often a time-consuming and costly process. Explains Bart Vanwijnsberghe, Director at Fedopress: “The stamps used to be printed on a relief printing machine, using six colours and four different paper formats. Any minor change imposed by customs or the tobacco manufacturer effectively resulted in the need to produce a new set of plates. In addition, more stamps than necessary were printed, resulting in an accumulation of stock.”

Fedopress decided that change was needed, and opted to switch to digital printing in order to produce stamps entirely on-demand: by printing only the exact quantity of stamps required, production will becomes more efficient and less expensive. Following a thorough market analysis, Fedopress issued a public tender and selected the solution proposed by Xeikon. Vanwijnsberghe: “Xeikon offered the most secure solution and the highest quality for the best price, and scored highly in terms of response-time and service.”

Security is paramount

Fiscal stamps are applied to cigarette packs and other tobacco products as proof that the manufacturer has paid the excise duty. Taxes from such products represent around 30% of the Belgian government’s total income, amounting to €2.26 billion in 2015. This means it is absolutely vital that the stamps are impossible to forge, as this would result in significant loss of income to the government. 

In order to ensure the highest level of security, stamp designs were created using Arziro, a powerful design software for security applications developed by Agfa Graphics, which allows the creation of complex designs that are impossible to reproduce without the software. In addition, the capabilities of the Xeikon 3500 in terms of resolution (1200 dpi) and variable dot density (4 bits), make it possible to reproduce microtext, guilloches, serifs and hairlines in minute detail. The machine uses black ink for variable data, and a concealed image printed with ink only visible under UV-light further adds to the security measures. 

Furthermore, each stamp is unique and completely traceable and is meticulously checked by an inspection camera for the presence of all the security features. In addition, the data is stored, allowing customs to verify the authenticity of each stamped tobacco product at any time. Counting is now much easier too. All prints have readable numbering and all sheets have the same format.

In addition to Belgium, Fedopress will also be supplying the government of Luxembourg with tobacco duty stamps, amounting to a total of approximately 1.2 billion stamps per year and an estimated €3 billion in excise duties. Vanwijnsberghe concludes: “The size of orders can be somewhat unpredictable in this market, but thanks to our digital print installation we are now able to respond and adapt very quickly. We now have a solution that is not only much more secure and efficient, but also much more cost-effective.”


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