28.1 Businesses which sell alcohol (for example retailers of alcohol and trade buyers) need to ensure that the UK wholesalers they buy alcohol from have been approved by HMRC, under the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS). They will need to check their wholesalers Unique Registration Number (URN) against the HMRC online database. This is an ongoing obligation and if a business is found to have bought alcohol from an unapproved wholesaler, they may be liable to a penalty, or could even face a criminal prosecution and their alcohol stock will be seized. Any trader who buys alcohol from a wholesaler for onward sale to the general public does not need to register unless they sell alcohol to other businesses.
28.2 Businesses need to carry out checks prior to trading with each wholesaler and periodically afterwards.