AWRS: One month for your retailers to prepare for alcohol registration

There is just one month to go until the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) will require retailers to check that their wholesalers are approved by HMRC by checking the Unique Reference Number (URN) on their invoices.

From April 1, retailers who purchase alcohol from a UK wholesaler will need to ensure they have been approved by HMRC. Retailers will be able to use the HMRC online look-up system for URNs that will be available by the end of March. If a retailer buys alcohol from a non-registered wholesaler, they may be liable to a criminal or civil penalty, their alcohol may be seized, or they could lose their alcohol licence.

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) and FWD are urging retailers to prepare their business ahead of  April 1, by asking their wholesaler(s) if they have applied for HMRC registration, and reviewing their processes and supply chains to make sure that they are only sourcing legitimate alcohol.

James Lowman, ACS chief executive said: “The AWRS is designed to tackle the illicit alcohol market which has a direct negative impact on responsible retailers. Retailers should prepare their businesses for the new obligations by asking their alcohol wholesalers if they have registered, and understand their obligations from 1 April by using the ACS guide on the AWRS”.

James Bielby, FWD chief executive added: “Alcohol wholesalers have been inspected and assessed, and those which have been approved as ‘fit and proper’ traders will have their URNs by the end of March. By regularly checking that their wholesaler is registered, and keeping a record of their checks, retailers can be sure that they will avoid the severe penalties associated with buying illicit stock.”

ACS has produced guidance for retailers on how to comply with the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme as part of its Best Practice guide on preventing duty fraud in the sector, which can be downloaded here.


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