Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme – this affects all of you

Keeping up with Compliance with Janet Hood

The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS)

News from  the HMRC affecting all licensed businesses

This affects you

  1. if you are a wholesaler for example  a cash and carry which does not have an alcohol licence


2. if you are a licensed retailer whether you are a corner shop, supermarket, brewery, distillery, alcohol importer and you  know that you sell alcohol products to other licensed businesses /persons who sell or supply alcohol to the public for business purposes for example to restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, event organisers in other words any other person retailing alcohol

Wholesalers – Persons who sell alcohol to others for onward sale to the public – need to register by 1 April 2017

The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme  requires wholesalers to be registered with HMRC.  Wholesales are any sale of alcohol made to another person for trade purposes. Any retailer [shop or other business] licensed to sell alcohol who knowingly sells alcohol products to other businesses needs to register as an alcohol wholesaler under this scheme before 1 April 2017 or they will be committing an offence.

The application for registration is free and can be done online –

Retailers – persons who buy alcohol from others for onward sale to the public must check the person[s] from whom they buy alcohol for these purposes  is/are registered under The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme

From 1 April 2017, alcohol retailers must ensure they only purchase alcohol from registered wholesalers.  If alcohol is purchased from a non-registered wholesaler, the non registered wholesaler and the trade purchaser  may be prosecuted unless it is an incidental sale – for example a one off  purchase is made for a corner shop because e.g. a restaurateur has run out of a particular alcohol product.

You need to ask to see the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration document issued by HMRC under the scheme and you might want to ask for a copy of the registration document to keep with your files/accounts  to ensure proper due diligence.

The registration process is open and HMRC are taking applications.

If you sell to trade you should register now

If you buy alcohol for onward sale to the public you should ask to see registration documents from persons selling you alcohol now.

You have till 1 April 2017 to do this but best advice is to apply early, to check early and be compliant by 1 April 2017.

It is a criminal offence if you sell alcohol to trade and are not  registered by that date and a criminal offence if you have not checked that the person supplying alcohol to you is not registered by that date.