Alcohol wholesaler registration scheme to come into force

10 December, 2014

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is celebrating after news that a wholesaler registration scheme on alcohol it has long campaigned for will be included in the Treasury’s 2015 finance bill.

The FWD has long argued that it would offer a “massive boost” to legitimate traders and wholesalers.

The Treasury is now on board and hopes to stamp out duty evasion on beers, wines and spirits, which costs the Treasury £1.3bn a year in lost revenue.

The scheme will require any business trading alcohol in wholesale volumes to undergo strict tests to ensure they are trading within the law.

Licensed retailers will also be required to demonstrate that their alcohol products are sourced from registered wholesalers.

FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “This is a major step towards identifying rogue operators and restoring control of alcohol distribution to legitimate wholesalers. We have worked hard to bring this issue to the Government’s attention, and although compliance with the scheme will place an operational burden on our members, it really is a short-term pain for a long-term gain.”

Wholesalers will be required to register during a three-month application window from October 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015, or face a penalty.

HMRC will begin pre-approval visits from January 2016, and they will last for around 15 months.  During that time HMRC ban any trader that fails to meet the scheme’s criteria from selling alcohol.

From April 2017, wholesalers will be required to display a unique reference number on all alcohol invoices, and they must provide it to anyone buying from them that requests it. Retailers will be expected to make regular checks to ensure a wholesaler’s fit and proper status has not changed, via an online registry.

Bielby added: “Over the next nine months we will be keeping our members up to date on the requirements of the scheme, to ensure that they meet the standards within the timeframe.”

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