The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) was established by the UK Government to tackle alcohol fraud – which is costing it some £1.2b a year in unpaid duty. So it’s deadly serious about enforcing registration by 1 April 2017.

The process of getting registered involves background and operational checks by HMRC. It’s a pain but, unless you are listed officially, your UK business customers probably cannot continue buying alcohol from you legally after the deadline. Here’s what you need to do.

Apply to register
Firstly, read the information and click the application link here.

Once registered, you will undergo rigorous checks by HMRC to ensure you are ‘fit and proper’ to trade in alcohol.

Undergo assessment

This assessment will include background and operational checks to ensure there is no past connection to convicted alcohol criminals, that you have a policy in place that ensures you’re only sourcing from legitimate alcohol suppliers, and that you maintain satisfactory records of orders and sales.

As part of the application process, you will need to provide trading information such as who your main suppliers are, who you sell to (type of customer), the products you sell, and the premises you trade from.

For most established, legitimate, organised businesses, this is only a slight headache and, once approved, HMRC will publish your details in the approved wholesaler list, online, which will enable your customers to continue to legally trade with you.

Critical dates
If you were trading prior to 1 April 2016, as long as you register by 31 March 2017, you can continue to trade until you’ve received HRMC’s decision.

However, for new traders, and for those who haven’t systematically documented their orders and sales, it presents a bigger challenge and potential delay in trading, because you cannot continue trading from 1 April 2017 unless you have secured HRMC’s approval for registration – and this could take 45 days from the date of application.

AWRS-enabled IT

Regardless of how established you are, your customers will want the reassurance of dealing with officially-approved suppliers, so it is essential that you achieve this status promptly. An AWRS-enabled merchandise management system such as STL’s MMS will help collate all the required information for you, helping you meet the criteria for registration and get trading legally sooner.

Further information on the scheme can be found here, or call us for advice.