The Alcohol Wholesalers Registration Scheme

01 April 2016

Alcohol fraud has been identified by HMRC as a current issue, and in order to tackle this, the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) has been introduced.

It is important to register for this scheme if you sell alcohol to another business.  However it is not applicable of you only sell to the general public or if you are an individual purchasing alcohol for personal use.

Furthermore, as of 1st April 2017 you will need to check that the wholesaler that you purchase from is also registered with the scheme. Those registered will be allocated an AWRS Unique Reference Number (URN) and HMRC will be providing an online lookup service so that trade buyers can confirm that the wholesalers they buy from are registered.

HMRC have produced a useful flow chart to help you decide if you need to apply for the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme which can be found here.

There are some exclusions to the scheme, such as those covered under the ‘incidental sales exclusion’ and wholesale sales of alcohol between members of the same corporate group. It would therefore be advisable to check your status before you apply for registration.

For further information on how to apply, guidance is provided from HMRC here.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Image courtesy of Suriya Kankliang at

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