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Any business selling or arranging the sale of alcohol to other businesses must apply online for approval under the Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme by March 31 and cannot trade until they receive HMRC approval.
“Auctioneers may only handle the sale of expensive wines sold as investments but they still need to register,” Laura Pollard, HMRC’s deputy director for alcohol and tobacco, said.

Auctioneer body SoFAA are urging members that sell alcohol to prioritise AWRS registration.

Businesses will need an online HMRC account to apply and provide information such as types of customer, products sold, premises used and details of their main suppliers.

“Long-winded process”

One SoFAA member which has completed the AWRS online application warned auctioneers to set aside time to register as it is “quite long-winded process”.

HMRC will assess applicants to ensure they are ‘fit and proper’, which involves considering factors such as connections to convicted alcohol fraudsters and accurate record keeping.

Wholesalers that are not ‘fit and proper’ cannot trade in alcohol and will face fines if they continue. HMRC will publish details of approved wholesalers online.

AWRS would “help ensure the alcohol supplied to retailers is legitimate, forcing the dishonest traders out of business,” Pollard said.

Visit HMRC’s Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme guidance page for more information.