Don’t forget: AWRS goes live on January 1

Alcohol wholesalers need to start preparing to apply for the new Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS), FWD has urged.

The AWRS, which goes live on January 1, will help tackle the £1.3bn a year lost to alcohol duty fraud by forcing wholesalers who trade illegally out of business.

Wholesalers must apply for approval with HMRC  after January 1 next year but FWD says all should start getting ready now to make sure they have what they need to make it quick and easy.

Under the scheme, retailers will have to buy from approved wholesalers from April 2017. HMRC will publish details of approved wholesalers online.

Wholesalers who apply for approval will be assessed by HMRC to ensure they are “fit and proper”, which will involve considering factors like connections to convicted alcohol fraudsters, unsatisfactory due diligence procedures to protect themselves from illicit supply-chains and poor record keeping.

Wholesalers that fail the “fit and proper” test will not be allowed to trade in alcohol and will face hefty fines if they continue.

As part of the application process, businesses will need to provide information such as types of customer, products sold, premises used and details of their main suppliers.

Having this information ready will make applying  quicker and easier. Businesses that sell alcohol to other businesses will need to apply. Businesses that only sell to consumers will not.

Industry bodies, including the FWD – a prime mover for the scheme –  have welcomed registration as a key weapon in the fight against the illegitimate traders that make it harder for those following the rules to succeed.

On November 30 HMRC published guidelines on its website. These can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/excise-notice-2002-alcohol-wholesaler-registration-scheme

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