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Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme DUTIES

The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) requires alcohol wholesalers to demonstrate they are ‘fit and proper’ and have their supply chains tested to make sure they are legitimate before being approved to operate in the sector, and entered onto a register.

The AWRS came into effect in April 2016. There are currently around 20,000 alcohol wholesalers in the UK. HMRC has estimated that in the region of £1.2bn a year in taxes is unpaid as a result of illegal activity.

New businesses that intend to start wholesaling in alcohol should apply to use the scheme at least 45 days before their intended first trading date. Existing wholesaling businesses should already be registered for the scheme.

From 1 April 2017, retailers are required to purchase alcohol only from registered wholesalers and will be able to check whether their suppliers are registered using an online look-up facility. This should be part of the retailer’s due-diligence process and will help ensure that retailers are not complicit in dealing in illicit alcohol.

It is an offence for a retailer to buy alcohol from an unregistered wholesaler. Any business that has not yet applied for registration and continues to sell alcohol to other businesses may be trading illegally and risks being fined.

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