Important news for alcohol trade buyers - from April 1st you need to check your wholesaler is registered

New rules for businesses that buy alcohol to sell to consumers come into force on April 1. You will be responsible for checking that your alcohol source is registered under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme. If you don't carry out the checks outlined below, you could be buying stock on which UK duty has not been paid, and you face severe penalties if you cannot prove you bought your stock from an approved source.

  • From April 1 it will be a serious offence to buy alcohol from a wholesaler which has not been inspected and approved by HMRC. If you buy from an unregistered wholesaler, you will be liable to a criminal or civil penalty, your alcohol stock may be seized, and you could lose your alcohol licence. 
  • On April 1 HMRC will open an online register of approved wholesalers where you must check that your wholesaler is listed before purchasing alcohol.  
  • Ask the wholesaler for their AWRS Unique Reference Number (URN). You will find the number on their invoices and sales materials. If they do not have a registration number, do not buy from them.
  • Go here or to and search for ‘approved alcohol wholesalers’. Enter the 15-digit URN and check that the name and address displayed match the company you are buying from. 

  • You must check each supplier the first time you trade with them and repeat the check regularly to ensure you always make alcohol purchases from an approved wholesaler. 

  • You will need to keep records to prove you have checked that your wholesaler is approved. You will be able to print or save the details of your check. 


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