Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS)

1 Overview
2 Do you buy alcohol to sell to others?
3 What do you need to do now?

1. Overview

If you are a trade association, local authority, chamber of commerce or other industry representative, please circulate this to your members or make it available to those who purchase alcohol from a UK wholesaler.

2. Do you buy alcohol to sell to others?

On 1 April 2017, HMRC launched the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) online look up service allowing those who purchase alcohol for onward sale or supply to check that their UK wholesaler is registered.    

HMRC has provided a service for retailers and trade buyers to check their UK wholesalers are approved using their Unique Reference Number (URN), which should be shown on their invoices. You can find the service on GOV.UK at

3. What do you need to do now?

You must check that your wholesaler has been approved by HMRC for any purchases of stock you make from this date. You should carry out this check alongside your other due diligence checks, as often as you need to, not just the first time. That way you can be sure you are buying alcohol from an approved wholesaler.

The online look up service is publically accessible, so there is no need to sign in using a government gateway account, and it details the UK wholesaler’s approval number, their date of registration, the business name and trading name, and their principle place of business.

You will be able to print or save the details of your check. You must also keep records to prove you have checked that your supplier is approved, so you don’t inadvertently become involved in selling duty unpaid alcohol. 

You should not proceed with your purchase from an unapproved UK wholesaler from 1 April 2017. If you buy alcohol from an un-approved UK wholesaler, HMRC may seize your alcohol stock and you could be liable for a penalty, or even prosecution.

You can find more information at

Contact your local Business Gateway office.

Your local office will be able to answer your questions on this or any other business subject.