Shoppers in Northern Ireland will have to pay at least 5p for a carrier bag in two weeks.
The charge, which takes effect on 8 April, will affect all new single-use bags, including those which are biodegradable.
"The levy, a first for Northern Ireland, will apply to the majority of new single use carrier bags, regardless of the material from which the bag is made," said Environment Minister Alex Attwood.
"It is not just on plastic bags but other single use bags from other natural materials.
"There are still some occasions when a bag will be provided free of charge."
Bags for medication, meat and hot food will be exempt from the 5p levy as will some small bags.
"At the moment we are using around 250 million carrier bags each year in Northern Ireland and we need to cut that number dramatically to reduce environmental damage," the minister said.
"The evidence from other countries shows that a bag levy is a very effective way of doing this. Bring your own bag and you will not have to pay the levy," he added.
A new video outlining the criteria for the new charge is available from the nidirect website.