The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme Part 1: Overview and when you need to apply
Part 1 of 3
If you sell alcohol to another business you may need to apply for approval for the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS). HMRC introduced the scheme to tackle alcohol fraud.
You’ll face penalties if you trade without approval.
From 1 April 2017 if you buy alcohol to sell from a UK wholesaler, you’ll need to check that the wholesaler has been approved by HMRC and has an AWRS Unique Reference Number (URN).
You will not need to check all your suppliers on 1 April 2017. You can carry out checks before you next trade with each wholesaler. You will need to repeat this check periodically, to ensure their wholesalers remain approved for AWRS. Keep records of the checks as evidence of your due diligence activities.
When you need to apply
You’ll need to apply for AWRS if all the following apply:
- your business sells, or arranges the sale of alcohol, and has an establishment in the UK
- your sales are made at, or after, the point where Excise Duty is due
- any sales to other businesses are made for onward sale or supply
Types of business that need to be approved
All businesses that supply alcohol to other businesses for resale need to apply. This includes:
- breweries and microbreweries
- wine producers and vineyards
- spirit producers
- cider producers who make more than 70 hectolitres of cider a year
- wine importers
- general wholesalers selling alcohol, including cash and carry businesses
- specialist wine wholesalers
You’ll also have to apply if you’re supplying alcohol to other businesses for resale as one of the following:
- a broker
- a retailer who makes regular sales to other businesses
- an auctioneer
- a charity, non-profit organisation or educational establishment that produces and/or supplies alcohol to other businesses for resale
Excise Notice 2002 section 3 has more information about the scheme and types of businesses likely to be affected.
Businesses that already operating in alcohol wholesale
These businesses should already have applied for approval. If you have not yet applied do so now.
Businesses new to alcohol wholesaling
You can apply for approval as a
- limited company
- sole trader/self-employed
- business partnership
- limited liability partnership
- limited partnership
As a new business, you may have to provide additional information after applying. You would usually supply this during your site visit and it would include:
- your business plan
- letters of intent from:
- suppliers and customers
- third party distribution companies
If you work for yourself you must first have registered for Self Assessment and enrolled for the online service.
Your agent or accountant will still be able to submit your Self Assessment Return if you’ve authorised them to do so.
Once registered for Self Assessment, you can then apply for approval in AWRS. You must not begin trading in alcohol wholesaling until approval is given.
For part 2 in the process click here
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