The government has amended the Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme (AWRS) notice to include guidance on what a retailer needs to do to not be liable for prosecution.

To be covered, retailers must not only taking a wholesaler’s Unique Reference Number, but also check it online and check it refers to the right wholesaler. They will also need to re-check the URN on a regular basis to be AWRS compliant. Additional necessary due diligence can include more subjective checks such as “if the supplier acts like a legitimate business.”

It also clarifies that retailers can buy alcohol from another retailer, such as a multiple without checking for a URN as long as it’s only ‘incidental sales’ meaning this happens very rarely and the value is very low.

The systems was brought into effect earlier this year as part of an attempt to close the gaps in the supply chain which allowed illicit alcohol to make its way into retail stores, sometimes without the retailer’s knowledge.

Here’s the full list of additional checks retailers should be carrying out with every alcohol purchase according to HMRC’s AWRS new guidelines:

  • How you know the supplier
  • If the supplier acts like a legitimate business
  • How the supplier contacted you
  • If you have the suppliers contact details (names, phone numbers, business address) and if these match the AWRS record
  • How payment will be made
  • Who you will make payment to
  • If the name of the business you are paying match the name on the AWRS record
  • If the business only accept cash
  • If you get a receipt

Do it: flick through the government’s full AWRS guide to check you’re compliant