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HMRC’s alcohol registration scheme now active

HMRC’s new Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) has officially launched, with every UK wholesaler of beer wine and spirits required to register before 31 March 2016.

The AWRS will affect all businesses that sell alcohol to other businesses, with its aim to reduce the sale of illicit alcohol on which no duty has been paid and which may be dangerous to consumers. HRMC estimates that £1.2 billion is lost in alcohol duty and VAT evasion through fraud every year.

All wholesale businesses that trade in alcohol have to register and will undergo rigorous checks prior to approval. For businesses that miss the deadline, or fail the inspection, HRMC will remove its right to trade in wholesale alcohol when the scheme goes live on April 1, 2017. From 2017 retailers will also be required to check to see if their suppliers are approved.

Penalties for failure to comply with the registration, which includes a £10,000 fine, up to seven years in jail and seizure of stock, will come into affect from 1 April 2016.

Penalties for trade buyers who buy alcohol from unregistered wholesalers will start from 1 April 2017. Any alcohol found in the premises of unregistered businesses may be seized, whether or not the duty has been paid.

The scheme’s launch was originally planned for 1 October 2015, however “technical issues” forced back the roll out of the scheme until 1 January 2016.

For more information and guidance on registering please click here.

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