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Do your clients sell alcohol?

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If yes then I want to tell you why your clients need to act now if they are an alcohol wholesaler.

The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) was introduced on 1 January 2016 to tackle alcohol duty fraud. HMRC estimates that around £1.2 billion a year in alcohol taxes is going unpaid, often due to wholesalers trading illegally.

Thousands of businesses have been contacted by Damian Hinds, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, urging them to apply for AWRS, which will protect their business and profits by tackling unfair competition.

Your clients must apply for approval if their business is established in the UK and supplies alcohol to other businesses at, or after, the point at which excise duty becomes due by either:

  • selling
  • arranging the sale
  • offering or exposing for sale.

Alcohol wholesalers already trading need to apply by 31 March 2016. Businesses intending to start wholesaling alcohol from 1 April 2016 onwards need to apply 45 days before their intended start date. Clients who don’t apply by the deadlines are at risk of trading illegally.

We have provided flowcharts to help your clients decide if they need to register or if they are covered by an exemption for retailers that make only incidental wholesale sales. If your clients only sell alcohol to the general public and not to other businesses, they don’t need to apply.

Your clients will need a Government Gateway ID to register. If they are a sole trader who doesn’t have an ID, they’ll need to get one and register for the SA online service before they can apply. Registering can take up to 10 working days, so I’d encourage them to apply now and not delay.

Remember you can’t log in using your client’s credentials, but you can help them through the process which is straightforward and doesn’t take long to complete.

We have produced a webinar which explains the scheme and how to register. Full information about the scheme, who needs to apply and the exclusions can be accessed here.

The deadline of 31 March is fast approaching, so don’t delay, your clients should act today.

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