Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme
AWRS comes into force for all sellers of controlled alcohol from 1st April. What does this mean for independent retailers selling alcohol? The government website www.gov.uk has a lot of plainly written clear information about AWRS. In their words: “ (Retailers should ensure) From 1st April when buying controlled liquor from a wholesaler who should have AWRS approval.” Make no mistake this is the retailer’s (your) responsibility and the onus is on you to be able to prove the efficacy of your stock sources. Check the HMRC web page www.gov.uk/guidance/the-alcohol-wholesaler-registration-scheme-awrs
As retailers you need to have proof that your wholesale supplier is registered with the AWRS. They should be able to tell you their AWRS unique reference number and ideally it should be printed on their invoices. You could be liable for stock seizures and large fines – up to £10,000 per incident for non-compliance. Therefore for we strongly advise that you take the following measures:
- Do purchase alcohol from AWRS registered wholesalers only.
- Do ensure that you have the wholesaler’s AWRS registration number on every relevant invoice.
- Do keep all records for alcohol purchases. You may be required to provide a purchase audit trail by HMRC.
- Do not be tempted to buy stock from non-verified sources. A small saving in the cost price now could result in much higher costs to your business later.
The industry has been plagued for years with fraudulent alcohol traded in the market. For example up to 15% of beer traded last year was in “bootleg” stock. This legislation should over time return the category to full legal trading, which will be to the benefit of all stakeholders.
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