Companies which sell alcohol to other businesses must apply for HMRC's Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme by March 31st or risk going out of business - and for those who have yet to sign up for the Government Gateway, the deadline is March 17.
HMRC has warned that those who do not apply in time may face a fine of up to £10,000 or a criminal conviction.
The scheme, which seeks to prevent a £1.2bn annual loss in duty revenue from fraudulently-distributed beer, wines and spirits, requires all alcohol wholesalers to provide details of their business via an online application form. Over the next 12 months applicants will be assessed as 'fit and proper' traders and issued with a registration number. From April 2017, retailers will not be able to buy alcohol from wholesalers who fail the test, or failed to apply for registration.
Applications must be submitted via the Government Gateway, with which applicants must also register. This process can take up to two weeks, which means that anyone who hasn't applied for access to the Gateway by March 17 could miss the AWRS deadline.
A survey of FWD wholesalers reveals that most members have already submitted applications, and those that have not are aware of the deadlines. However, many other businesses will also need to apply, including:
The information needed when making the application includes:
HMRC's Excise Notice gives full details of the application process
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After the end of this month all trade buyers of duty-paid alcohol will have to check they are buying from a registered wholesaler. It’s the first time that the supply chain of beers