The Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme went live on 1 January 2016. FWD have urged alcohol wholesales to prepare for the new scheme. The scheme is help tackle the 1.3bn a year lost to alcohol duty fraud by forcing wholesalers who trade illegally out of business.

The three-month application window, originally scheduled to run from October 1 2015 was delayed due to a request of more time to prepare the online application process. IT issues had led to concerns about some of the data input, particularly in the case of group applications.

Wholesalers were told to 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 this scheme retailers will have to buy from only approved wholesalers from April 2017 with the HMRC publishing details of approved wholesalers online.

As part of the approval process, wholesalers will be assessed by HMRC, and businesses will need to provide customer product information. Those that fail the test will not be allowed to trade alcohol and will face hefty fines.

On November 30 HMRC published guidelines on its website. These can be accessed here: