This scheme applies to the whole of the UK and this scheme will affect all Licensed businesses.
The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme requires Wholesalers (e.g. cash and carry) to be registered with HMRC. Wholesales are any sale of alcohol made to another person for trade purposes. Existing Retailers who knowingly sell alcohol products to other businesses needed to register as an alcohol wholesaler under the AWRS scheme before the 1 April 2016. Wholesalers beginning to trade after the 31 March 2016 must apply to HMRC at least 45 days before they intend to begin trading and cannot begin to trade unless HMRC approval is granted.
The application for registration is free and can be done online at www.gov.uk/guidance/the-alcohol-wholesaler-registration-scheme.awrs
Retailers who buy alcohol from others for onward sale to the public from the 1 April 2017 must check that the persons from whom they buy alcohol for these purposes are registered under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme. 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 from a corner shop by a restaurateur who has run out of a particular alcohol product.
Trade buyers will be able to use an online lookup service of approved wholesalers to check that the Wholesalers they buy from are registered from April 2017. Before then Government guidance is that a Retailer should ask suppliers if they have applied to HMRC for approval and if the supplier has not yet applied encourage them to do so.
If you sell to trade you should already be registered. It is a criminal offence if you sell alcohol to trade and are not registered. From the 1 April 2017, it will also be a criminal offence if you purchase alcohol from a Wholesaler is who is not registered.
If you need help on the issues raised in this note or any other Licensing matters please contact Andrew Cochrane at Flint Bishop LLP on 01332 226 142.