Retailers may need to register as alcohol wholesalers

Good Spirits Co premises

Retailers may be aware of the impending Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme which comes into force in January. But what you may not be aware of is that you may have to register yourself.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is warning licensed retailers who sell to other businesses, or regularly sell large volumes to a single customer, that they may have to apply for registration.

The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme is intended to ensure that only legitimate businesses trade in duty-paid alcohol, and to stamp out the fraudulent sale of products which costs the taxpayer £1.3bn a year in lost revenue. It requires all wholesalers to apply for registration from October, after which they will be assessed and inspected to ensure they are a ‘fit and proper’ alcohol trader.

A retailer who makes incidental high-volume sales, such as occasionally providing products for a community event, would not be required to register. However, if these sales were frequent, or part of the store’s business model (for example, if it advertises that it can cater for large events) then it would be deemed to be trading as a wholesaler and therefore need to apply for registration.

FWD Chief Executive James Bielby said: “We are concerned that many retailers many not realise that they are acting as a wholesaler. If they are, they need to apply for registration between October and December this year, or face possible penalties from January 1st 2016. They will also have to demonstrate that they are sourcing their alcohol legitimately, and keeping records of who they purchase from.”

HMRC has issued a flowchart to help retailers decide if the need to apply for registration. The online application process opens on October 1st and will be accessed through the Government Gateway, for which retailers will also have to register.