08/12/16: Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (‘AWRS’) Refusal

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

It has recently come to this firm’s attention that a number of companies who have applied to register with HMRC under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (‘AWRS’) have had their applications refused by HMRC in accordance with the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979, section 88C(1).  The result of the HMRC refusal is that a company must NOT undertake the wholesale of alcohol with immediate effect.  It was previously thought that HMRC’s refusal to register a company for AWRS would be effective from 1 April 2017.

However, the 1 April 2017 is the date when it will be an offence to knowingly buy alcohol wholesale from a person who should be approved.  Penalties can include a fine, imprisonment of up to 7 years or both.  The HMRC on-line look up facility to verify a company’s AWRS number will also be available from the date.

The current practice of HMRC is to issue ‘minded to letters’ to a company to refuse their application.  It is important that company owners act on these letters immediately to allow HMRC to re-consider their application.  Failure to do so could result in a company being unable to trade.  A company’s only recourse to a HMRC refusal to register a business for AWRS is via the First Tier Tax Tribunal which is a lengthy process, often taking one year for the appeal to be heard.

Please do not hesitate to contact this firm, if you require any assistance with your AWRS application.