Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS)
From 1 April 2017 if you buy alcohol to sell from a UK wholesaler, you will need to check that the wholesaler has been approved by HMRC and has an AWRS Unique Reference Number (URN). This has been a requirement placed on the wholesalers since 1 January 2016 and so the change is an extension of HMRC’s attempts to tackle alcohol fraud which is estimated cost them £1.2bn in evaded taxes each year.
So before you next buy alcohol from a wholesaler you need to check with that supplier that they have the AWRS number, you also need to retain records of this check and periodically repeat the check. You can make this check using HMRC’s online look up service.
For many tied alcohol retailers they will have been pre-notified of this new requirement but we are now seeing many smaller independent retailers coming into the market who are buying from micro and nano breweries or artisan spirit producers. Some of these wholesalers will be, like you, owner managed and may not have let you know their URN.
Many retailers will have updated their paperwork to let you know their URN. Some have written to retailers with the information and we have also seen the information posted on wholesalers websites.
Failure to carry out the checks which result in anyone buying alcohol from an unapproved supplier could lead to a penalty and having their alcohol stock seized.
If you are a produced and unaware of your responsibilities under the scheme you should act now. If you are a retailer and need further information on how to check the wholesalers URN contact us.