Guidance

Alcohol duties

Wine Duty, Cider Duty, Beer Duty or Spirits Duty responsibilities for alcohol manufacturers, distributers and retailers

Introduction

If you produce or process alcohol in the UK, or are responsible for bringing alcohol into the UK, you and your premises will either need to be registered (eg brewers and cider makers), licensed (eg wine producers and spirits producers) or approved (eg excise warehouses) with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You will also be liable for paying any excise duty due.

If you produce, stock, distribute, sell or use denatured alcohol, you may need to be authorised or licensed by HMRC.

This guide explains how and when you need to account for and pay alcohol duties, and how to apply for registration, an excise licence or approval from HMRC. It also explains how you can bring alcohol into the UK in the course of your business, what reliefs and exemptions there are for certain uses of alcohol, and how to obtain them.

Beer Duty

Beer Duty is chargeable on the following types of beer if their strength is more than 1.2% alcohol by volume (ABV):

  • ale
  • porter
  • stout
  • any other description of beer
  • anything else made or sold described as beer or a beer substitute, including beer mixed with non-alcoholic drinks - eg shandy

Whether or not you have to register with HMRC depends on what your business does with the beer it produces or packages.

Beer Duty: when you must register with HMRC and pay

If you produce beer for commercial reasons and its strength exceeds 1.2% ABV, you must register as a brewer with HMRC and pay Beer Duty.

If you package beer and want to hold it in duty suspension, you must register as a packager with HMRC.

If you produce beer for scientific reasons - eg for research - you don’t need to register with HMRC or pay Beer Duty, but you must notify HMRC of your activities.

Register as a brewer or packager with HMRC

If you need to register with HMRC, you need to do so for every set of premises where you intend to produce or package beer.

Once you have registered as a brewer or packager, you must:

  • keep specific records and accounts
  • calculate any Beer Duty due and make returns
  • pay Beer Duty by Direct Debit

If you are a brewer or packager applying for registration for the first time, you must provide a financial guarantee to cover any Beer Duty due on beer removed from your registered premises to the UK market until it is paid to HMRC. You also need to be aware of the guarantee requirements when storing or moving alcohol in duty suspension.

Read about Beer Duty registration, records, returns and guarantees in Notice 226 on the HMRC website

Beer Duty: when it applies

Beer is liable for Beer Duty as soon as it is ‘produced’. This is when the earliest of one of the following events takes place - when the beer is:

  • put into any package
  • removed from the brewery
  • consumed
  • lost
  • fit for consumption

Beer Duty suspension

Beer Duty doesn’t have to be paid to HMRC immediately. You can do the following before duty becomes payable:

  • hold beer you have produced on your registered premises in duty suspension
  • send it to other registered premises approved to receive beer in duty suspension
  • send it to an excise warehouse approved to hold beer in duty suspension, for storage purposes or in order to carry out certain permitted processes on the beer - eg bottling
  • send it to a registered beer packager

If you wish to deposit your beer in an excise warehouse, you will need to be approved as a registered owner of warehoused goods. Also the excise warehouse must have the necessary approval to hold beer in duty suspension.

Find how to become a registered owner of warehoused goods in Notice 196 on the HMRC website

You may also receive beer in duty suspension into your registered premises and continue to hold it in duty suspension - as long as it is of a class or description that your registration entitles you to hold - from:

  • other registered brewers or packagers
  • an excise warehouse
  • direct importation or acquisition from a country outside the UK

Beer Duty becomes payable to HMRC when the earliest of the following events takes place:

  • when it leaves duty suspension for sale on the UK market, including in your own retail premises
  • the beer is consumed
  • you decide you want to pay the duty early, perhaps for accounting purposes - this is called ‘constructive removal’
  • the beer is lost or stolen

These events are known as ‘duty points’.

If the beer is subject to duty suspension arrangements, the Beer Duty on it becomes payable at the time it passes a duty point - ie when it leaves duty suspension.

Beer Duty returns and payments

You have to submit a Beer Duty return (form EX46) to HMRC by the 15th day of the month following your accounting period, even if your duty liability is nil. You must then pay any Beer Duty declared on your return by the 25th day of the following month (normally by Direct Debit). For example, if a batch of beer passes a duty point on 16 March, you should include the correct amount of Beer Duty on the return for that period and pay it by 25 April - see sections 15 and 16 of Notice 226.

Find form EX46 for Beer Duty returns on the HMRC website

Find out about Beer Duty returns and payments in Notice 226 on the HMRC website

Beer Duty rates

Most beers are charged General Beer Duty at £18.74 per hectolitre % of alcohol. For example, if you release a batch of 5 hectolitres of beer of a strength 4.0% ABV, your Beer Duty liability would be £374.80 (£18.74 × 5 × 4.0).

High strength beer

High Strength Beer Duty is charged on beer that exceeds 7.5% ABV and this is in addition to the General Beer Duty. This additional charge is set at £5.29. For example, if you release a batch of 5 hectolitres of beer of a strength 8.0% ABV, your Beer Duty liability is £961.20:

General Beer Duty - £18.74 × 5 × 8 = £749.60

High Strength Beer Duty - £5.29 × 5 × 8 = £211.60

Lower strength beer

Lower strength beer which is more than 1.2% ABV but not more than 2.8% ABV is set at £8.62. For example, if you release a batch of 5 hectolitres of beer of a strength 2.8% ABV, your Beer Duty liability will be £120.68:

Lower Strength Beer Duty - £8.62 × 5 × 2.8 = £120.68

Reduced rates for small brewers

Small brewers who produced no more than 60,000 hectolitres of beer in the previous calendar year may be entitled to a reduced rate of Beer Duty under the Small Breweries’ Relief scheme. This applies on a sliding scale, starting at a reduction of 50% for production of 5,000 hectolitres or less and decreasing for larger production volumes.

Read about the Small Breweries’ Relief for small brewers in Notice 226 on the HMRC website

Different rates for beer mixed with spirits

If you mix beer with spirits that produces a recognisable increase in the alcoholic strength, even if the majority of the final product is beer, you will have to pay duty on the final product at the Spirits Duty rate.

For more information, see the page in this guide on ’Spirits Duty’.

Cider Duty

Cider and perry are liable for Cider Duty. Cider and perry are defined as drinks created from fermented apple or pear juice, with a strength of more than 1.2% ABV but less than 8.5% ABV.

Producing cider or perry commercially

If you produce cider or perry for commercial reasons, but make less than 7,000 litres in any 12-month period, you don’t need to register with HMRC or pay Cider Duty. You do, however, need to complete form CP 33 and return it to HMRC.

Find form CP 33 - Claim for exemption from registration by a maker of cider or perry for sale on the HMRC website

If you produce cider or perry commercially and make more than 7,000 litres in any 12-month period, you must register with HMRC as a cider maker and pay Cider Duty.

In addition for any fermentations of the apple or pear juice which began on or after 1 September 2010, all of the following applies:

  • at least 35% of the pre-fermentation mixture must be apple or pear juice
  • the final product must include 35% apple or pear juice
  • the juice must be of a minimum gravity of 1033 degrees both before and after fermentation begins

Find out about definitions of cider and perry in Notice 162 on the HMRC website

To qualify as cider or perry, the drink must not have any other alcoholic drink added - otherwise, it’s classed as made-wine or a spirit. However, some specific flavours and colours can be added, but first have to be approved by HMRC.

Registering as a cider maker with HMRC

To register as a cider maker, you should complete form CP 30 and return it to HMRC. You need to send one form for every set of premises where you intend to make cider for sale. You must also submit plans of your premises with your application - this is known legally as ‘making entry’ of your premises. These plans must include details of where your cider-making equipment will be sited on your premises, along with any identifiable markings on the equipment.

As a registered cider maker, you must:

  • keep specific records and accounts
  • calculate any Cider Duty due and make monthly returns and payments on time

If you are a cider maker applying for registration for the first time, you must provide a financial guarantee to cover any Cider Duty due on cider removed from your registered premises to the UK market until it is paid to HMRC. You also need to be aware of the guarantee requirements when storing or moving alcohol in duty suspension. See Notice 162 for more information on the guarantees required by HMRC.

Find form CP 30 - Application to register as a maker of cider or perry - on the HMRC website

Read about how to register for Cider Duty and who needs to do so in Notice 162 on the HMRC website

Cider Duty: when it applies

Cider is liable to Cider Duty as soon as it is ‘produced’. Cider is produced as soon as it has exceeded a strength of 1.2% ABV.

Cider Duty suspension

You don’t necessarily have to pay Cider Duty to HMRC immediately. You can:

  • hold cider that you have made on your registered premises in duty suspension
  • send it to another registered cider maker for further processing
  • send it to an excise warehouse approved to hold cider in duty suspension, for storage purposes or in order to carry out certain permitted processes on the cider - eg bottling

If you wish to deposit your cider in an excise warehouse, you will need to be approved as a registered owner of warehoused goods. Also the excise warehouse must be approved to hold cider in duty suspension.

Find how to become a registered owner of warehoused goods in Notice 196 on the HMRC website

You can also receive the following duty-suspended cider into your registered premises and continue to hold it in duty suspension:

  • cider from other registered cider makers for you to carry out further processing on it
  • your own cider after it’s been processed elsewhere

However, you can’t receive duty-suspended cider in a ready-for-sale state unless it was produced on your registered premises.

Cider Duty becomes payable to HMRC as soon as one of the following happens:

  • when it leaves duty suspension for sale on the UK market
  • the cider is consumed
  • you decide you want to pay the duty early, perhaps for accounting purposes - this is called ‘constructive removal’

These events are known as ‘duty points’.

If your cider or perry is subject to duty suspension arrangements, the Cider Duty on it becomes payable at the time it passes the duty point.

Cider Duty returns and payments

You must submit a cider return form EX 606, supplied to you by HMRC, and pay HMRC any Cider Duty declared on the return by the 15th day of the month following the accounting period, even if your duty liability is nil. For example, if a batch of cider passes the duty point on March 16, you should include the correct amount of Cider Duty on the return for that period and pay it by April 15. You can find more information on return details and duty payment in section 7 of Notice 162.

Read guidance on Cider Duty accounts and returns in Notice 162 on the HMRC website

Cider Duty rates

Cider Duty is charged according to the ABV of the cider or perry and whether it’s sparkling or still.

The current Cider Duty rates are as follows:

Type of cider or perry Cider Duty rate per 100 litres of product
Still cider and perry exceeding 1.2% but not exceeding 7.5% ABV £39.66
Still cider and perry exceeding 7.5% but less than 8.5% ABV £59.52
Sparkling cider and perry exceeding 1.2% but not exceeding 5.5% ABV £39.66
Sparkling cider and perry exceeding 5.5% but less than 8.5% ABV £264.61

Cider classed as made-wine or spirit

If you produce any of the following, it is classed as made-wine or spirits, and you must therefore pay duty at either the Wine Duty or Spirits Duty rates, as appropriate:

  • cider of 8.5% ABV or more, or labelled or described as 8.5% ABV or more
  • cider including anything other than certain permitted ingredients, or ingredients in more than specific quantities

For more information, see the pages in this guide on ‘Wine Duty’ and ‘Spirits Duty’.

Find out about when cider is classed as made-wine or spirit in Notice 162 on the HMRC website

Wine Duty

Wine Duty is payable on the production of wine or made-wine of more than 1.2% ABV.

Wine is defined as a drink produced by fermentation of fresh grapes or grape must. Made-wine is any other drink - apart from beer or cider - containing alcohol that is made by fermentation, rather than by distillation or any other process. For example, mead is classed as made-wine.

Producing wine or made-wine commercially

If you produce wine or made-wine for sale of more than 1.2% ABV, you must apply for a wine producer’s licence from HMRC and pay Wine Duty.

Registering as a wine producer with HMRC

To apply for a wine producer’s licence, you should complete form L5 and send it to HMRC. You will need a licence for every set of premises where you intend to produce wine for sale. You must also submit plans of your premises with your application - this is known legally as ‘making entry’ of your premises. These plans must include details of where your wine-making equipment will be sited on your premises, along with any identifiable markings on the equipment.

As a licensed wine producer, you must:

  • keep certain records and accounts
  • calculate duty, and make monthly returns and payments of duty to HMRC on time

If you are a wine producer applying for a licence for the first time, you must provide a financial guarantee to cover any Wine Duty due on wine removed from your licensed premises to the UK market until it is paid to HMRC. You also need to be aware of the guarantee requirements when storing or moving alcohol in duty suspension. See Notice 163 for more information on the guarantees required by HMRC.

Find form L 5 - Application for a wine producer’s licence - on the HMRC website

Find out about your responsibilities for Wine Duty and the wine producer’s licence in Notice 163 on the HMRC website

Wine Duty: when it applies

Wine is liable for Wine Duty as soon as it is produced. Wine is produced as soon as it has exceeded a strength of 1.2% ABV.

Wine Duty suspension

You don’t necessarily have to pay Wine Duty to HMRC immediately. You can:

  • hold wine that you have made on your registered premises in duty suspension
  • send it to another licensed wine producer for further processing
  • send it to an excise warehouse approved to hold wine in duty suspension, for storage purposes or in order to carry out certain permitted processes on the wine, eg bottling

If you are only depositing wine or made-wine in an excise warehouse you do not have to be registered with HMRC as an owner of warehoused goods.

You can also receive the following duty-suspended wine into your registered premises and continue to hold it in duty suspension:

  • wine from other licensed wine producers for you to carry out further processing on it
  • your own wine after it’s been processed elsewhere

However, you can’t receive duty-suspended wine in a ready-for-sale state with duty suspended unless it was produced on your licensed premises.

Duty becomes payable to HMRC when the earliest of the following events takes place:

  • when it leaves duty suspension for sale on the UK market, including in your own retail premises
  • the wine is consumed
  • you decide you want to pay the duty early, perhaps for accounting purposes - this is called ‘constructive removal’

These events are known as ‘duty points’.

If your wine or made-wine is subject to duty suspension arrangements, the Wine Duty on it becomes payable at the time it passes the duty point.

Wine Duty returns and payments

You have to submit a wine return (form EX 606), supplied to you by HMRC, and pay any Wine Duty declared on the return to HMRC by the 15th day of the month following the accounting period, even if your duty liability is nil. For example, if a batch of wine passes the duty point on March 16, you should include the correct amount of Wine Duty on the return and pay it by April 15. You can find information on return details and duty payment in section 7 of Notice 163.

Find out about Wine Duty accounts and returns in Notice 163 on the HMRC website

Wine Duty rates

The amount of Wine Duty payable on wine or made-wine is calculated according to its strength and whether it’s sparkling or still.

The current Wine Duty rates are as follows:

Type of wine or made-wine Wine Duty rate per 100 litres of product
Wine and made-wine exceeding 1.2% ABV but not exceeding 4% ABV £84.21
Wine and made-wine exceeding 4% ABV but not exceeding 5.5% ABV £115.80
Still wine and made-wine exceeding 5.5% but not exceeding 15% ABV £273.31
Wine and made-wine exceeding 15% ABV but not exceeding 22% ABV £364.37
Sparkling wine and made-wine exceeding 5.5% ABV but less than 8.5% ABV £264.61
Sparkling wine and made-wine 8.5% and above but not exceeding 15% ABV £350.07

Fortified wine or wine mixed with spirits

If you produce any of the following, they will be classed as spirits, and you must therefore pay duty at the Spirits Duty rate:

  • wine or made-wine fortified to a strength above 22% ABV
  • a drink that is classified as a spirit rather than a wine - eg because most of the volume or alcohol of the final product comes from the spirit element rather than the wine

For more information, see the page in this guide on ‘Spirits Duty’.

Read about wine classification in Notice 163 on the HMRC website

Spirits Duty

Spirits Duty is payable on any spirits, or any mixture or combination of spirits with anything else, at a strength of more than 1.2% ABV.

If you want to produce spirits in the UK by distilling alcoholic liquids or by any other process - such as cracking ethylene gas - you will need:

  • a distiller’s licence
  • approval for your plant and process
  • to account for and pay Spirits Duty to HMRC

Spirits Duty: licensing and approval

In order to apply to HMRC for a distiller’s licence, you should make a written application and provide details of your plant and process. You should bear in mind that HMRC can decline an application if the largest still to be used has a capacity of less than 18 hectolitres.

You must apply for a distiller’s licence using a set format.

Read about applying for a distiller’s licence in Notice 39 on the HMRC website

Responsibilities of licensed spirits producers

If you are licensed by HMRC as a distiller, you must:

  • secure your premises and the spirits you produce
  • keep accurate records and accounts, and make accurate returns on time
  • take appropriate measures to prevent any losses
  • promptly examine any losses and identify the causes
  • investigate any irregularities

Following production, if you wish to store spirits in duty suspension on your own premises - eg for maturation purposes - you will also require an excise warehouse approval.

If you do receive approval, you will need to ensure that all the necessary rules and procedures for an excise warehouse are followed, including the displaying of notices and the restrictions on what activities can be carried out in the warehouse.

Read about licensing, approval and responsibilities for distillers for Spirits Duty in Notice 39 on the HMRC website

Paying Spirits Duty

Spirits are liable for Spirits Duty as soon as they have been distilled or manufactured.

Suspending Spirits Duty

Duty doesn’t have to be paid to HMRC immediately. As long as the spirits are directly removed to an excise warehouse that is approved to hold spirits in duty suspension, you can suspend payment of Spirits Duty.

Duty doesn’t then become payable until the spirits pass a duty point, which will generally be when they leave duty suspension for release onto the UK market or when they’re consumed.

When you remove spirits from an excise warehouse, you need to follow the relevant procedures for removals.

Read about removal of excise goods from an excise warehouse in Notice 197 on the HMRC website

Spirits Duty returns and payments

At the end of March, June, September and December each year, you’ll need to complete form W21 - Quarterly distillery return. You’ll need to complete a return for each different class of spirit you distil.

Find form W21 for quarterly distillery returns on the HMRC website

Spirits Duty rates

The current rate of Spirits Duty is £28.22 per litre of pure alcohol.

UK duty stamps

Any bottle or other retail container of spirits, wine or made-wine must bear a UK duty stamp when intended for sale in the UK if it meets both of the following conditions:

  • contains alcohol of a strength of 30% ABV or more
  • has a minimum capacity of 35 centilitres

Find UK duty stamp information in HMRC Notice DS5 on the HMRC website

Re-distilling or mixing spirits

If you re-distil spirits, you must have a rectifier’s licence. If you mix spirits with anything apart from water, you must have a compounder’s licence.

For more information, see the page in this guide on ’Spirits rectifiers and compounders’.

Spirits rectifiers and compounders

If you wish to re-distil or combine spirits, you will need specific licences from HMRC to do so.

Re-distilling spirits

If you re-distil spirits using a still, you must apply for a rectifier’s licence from HMRC using form L 5.

Unless you operate an excise warehouse, you must also submit plans of your premises with your application - this is known legally as ‘making entry’ of your premises - and have them approved by HMRC before you start operations. The licence will also allow you to compound spirits by means of a still if you wish.

Find form L 5 to apply for a rectifier’s licence on the HMRC website.

Find guidance on applying for a rectifier’s licence in Information Sheet 11/12 on the HMRC website.

Combining spirits

If you mix or combine spirits - whether previously compounded or not - with any other substance (apart from water) that will distinctly alter the character or flavour of the original product, you must take out a compounder’s licence. You can do this using form L 5. This applies to the manufacture of:

  • alcoholic drinks - but not including mixed drinks solely for consumption on the premises, for example cocktails
  • ingredients for making, or adding to, alcoholic drinks

Find form L 5 to apply for a compounder’s licence on the HMRC website.

Unless you already operate from an excise warehouse, you will have to ‘make entry’ of the premises and plant and have it approved by HMRC before you start operations.

The manufacture of certain products does not require a compounder’s licence. However, depending on the circumstances, you may want one anyway to allow you to claim spirits drawback - ie, a refund of the duty you pay when you purchase the spirits. This applies to:

  • mixed drinks or foodstuffs solely for consumption on the premises
  • food products
  • flavouring essences not for alcoholic drinks
  • medicines
  • perfumery

Find guidance on applying for a compounder’s licence in Information Sheet 11/12 on the HMRC website.

Denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol is alcohol that has been made unsuitable for drinking by the addition of approved denaturants.

There are three classes of denatured alcohol:

  • completely denatured alcohol (CDA)
  • industrial denatured alcohol
  • trade specific denatured alcohol

Producing, stocking, distributing and selling denatured alcohol

If you want to do any of the following to denatured alcohol, you must be authorised or licensed by HMRC:

  • produce it
  • stock it
  • distribute it in wholesale quantities
  • sell it - although you can sell retail quantities of CDA without any restrictions

Using denatured alcohol

You can use any quantities of CDA without any restriction. If you want to use other types of denatured alcohol, you will need to obtain authorisation and you must obey any restrictions set on different uses for the different types.

Read about authorisation and licences for denatured alcohol in Notice 473 on the HMRC website.

Bringing alcohol into the UK from overseas

There are a number of ways you can import alcohol or alcoholic drinks into the UK. The most appropriate method will depend on how frequently you will be importing, whether you are importing from inside or outside the European Union (EU), and whether excise duty has already been paid on the goods in another EU country. The way you account for and pay UK excise duty due on the imported goods will depend on which particular method you are using.

UK duty stamps

Whichever method you use to import alcohol into the UK, you should be aware of the legal requirements for fiscal markings - ie duty stamps - on specific alcohol products.

Any bottle or other retail container of spirits, wine or made-wine must bear a UK duty stamp when intended for sale in the UK, if it meets both the following conditions:

  • it contains alcohol of a strength of 30% alcohol by volume (ABV) or more
  • it has a minimum capacity of 35 centilitres

Find UK duty stamp information in HMRC Notice DS5 on the HMRC website.

Restrictions on wine imported into the EU

Wine from outside the EU may only be released for consumption within the UK (or anywhere else in the EU) if it meets certain criteria, including a general minimum actual alcoholic strength of 9% ABV and a maximum total alcoholic strength of 15% ABV.

Occasional imports of alcohol in duty suspension from other EU countries

If you only import alcohol that is in duty suspension from other EU countries on a one-off or infrequent basis, then you can apply to HMRC to become a Temporary Registered Consignee.

You will also have to secure the excise duty due on each consignment by submitting payment to HMRC before the goods are dispatched.

Regular imports of alcohol in duty suspension from other EU countries

If you regularly bring alcohol in duty suspension into the UK from other EU countries, you can do one of the following three things:

  • apply for approval as a Registered Consignee
  • use the services of a Registered Consignee who will act as your agent and import it for you
  • use the services of an authorised warehousekeeper who receives the alcohol on your behalf and stores it in duty suspension in an excise warehouse approved for such a purpose

Registered Consignees are not allowed to hold or dispatch excise goods in duty suspension. They must account for the excise duty due on the goods as soon as they are received in the UK, with the duty subsequently being paid under deferment arrangements.

Importing duty-paid alcohol from other EU countries

If you wish to import alcohol that has been released for consumption in another EU country (and is therefore classed as duty-paid goods) into the UK on a commercial basis, you will need to use one of the following UK duty-paid schemes:

  • the Registered Commercial Importer scheme - this requires the commercial importer to be approved by and registered with HMRC - the UK duty due on the goods is secured and subsequently paid under deferment arrangements
  • the standard duty-paid scheme - this does not require the commercial importer to be registered - the UK duty due on the goods is secured by submitting payment to HMRC before the goods are dispatched

Read about the Commercial Importer and Tax Representative schemes in Notice 204B on the HMRC website.

Importing alcohol from outside the EU

If you want to import alcohol from outside the EU, it becomes liable for UK excise duty when it reaches the UK. However, the excise duty won’t be payable at that point if one of these applies:

  • it is delivered to an excise warehouse approved for that purpose
  • you are a registered producer and you receive alcohol into your registered premises of a class that your registration entitles you to hold

Read about importing excise goods from outside the EU in Notice 197 on the HMRC website.

Customs Duty and VAT

For any alcohol brought into the UK, you will also have to follow procedures regarding the payment of Customs Duty and VAT.

Reliefs from alcohol duties

You may claim relief from duty for alcohol that you:

  • use in the production of foodstuffs - the Alcoholic Ingredients Relief
  • use in manufactured goods not intended for human consumption
  • apply to a medical or scientific purpose
  • use in the manufacture of compounded spirits in specific circumstances - for more information, see ‘Spirits rectifiers and compounders’

Alcoholic Ingredients Relief

You may be able to either claim a refund on alcohol duty you have paid on spirits, beer, cider or perry, wine and made-wine, or to use duty unpaid alcohol if you manufacture any of the following for wholesale supply:

  • drinks with a strength not exceeding 1.2% alcohol by volume
  • chocolates containing no more than 8.5 litres of alcohol per 100 kilograms of chocolate
  • other foods - but not drinks - containing no more than 5 litres of alcohol per 100 kilograms of the final product
  • vinegar

You don’t need authorisation or approval, but you do need to follow specific rules to make a claim.

Find out how to claim Alcoholic Ingredients Relief in Notice 41 on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website.

Relief for medical, scientific or manufacturing use

If you use spirits for medical or scientific purposes, or you use spirits in the manufacture of goods that are not intended to be eaten, you may be able to receive the spirits without payment of Spirits Duty. Alternatively, you may be able to use denatured alcohol.

If you want to use duty-free spirits, you need to apply to HMRC for authorisation before you can receive duty-free spirits. You can apply using form EX 240.

Find form EX 240 - Application for authority to receive duty-free spirits on the HMRC website.

Read about applying to receive duty-free spirits in Notice 47 on the HMRC website.

Alcohol and airlines, ships, export shops and duty-free stores

If you want to sell duty-free or duty-paid alcohol to passengers travelling to other countries, you may need approval from HMRC, and you will need to follow specific rules and procedures.

Journeys between EU countries

If you operate an airline or ship that travels between EU countries, and you want to sell excise goods - including alcohol - to passengers onboard for them to take away, you must apply to become a Registered Mobile Operator (RMO).

Download guidance on becoming an RMO in Notice 202 from the HMRC website (PDF, 174K).

You don’t need to register as an RMO if you only supply stores for onboard consumption, although there are daily limits that apply to alcohol allowances for passengers and crew on board ship or aircraft.

Read guidance on loading and supplying excise goods for consumption on ships in Notice 69A on the HMRC website.

Read guidance on loading and supplying excise goods for consumption on aircraft in Notice 197B on the HMRC website.

Find guidance on duty-free aircraft stores in Notice 198 on the HMRC website.

Journeys to non-EU countries

If you operate an airline or ship that travels to a destination outside the EU, any goods - including excise goods - may be loaded duty-free as stores for sale, but you need authorisation from HMRC. The goods can be either to take away or for consumption onboard.

Read guidance on duty-free ships’ stores in Notice 69A on the HMRC website.

Read guidance on duty-free goods on aircrafts in Notice 197B on the HMRC website.

Read guidance on duty-free aircraft stores in Notice 198 on the HMRC website.

Export shops

If you want to sell duty-free excise goods to passengers about to travel to a destination outside the EU, you need to be approved by HMRC to operate an ‘export shop’.

An export shop is an excise warehouse that can hold alcohol in duty suspension for sale to entitled passengers travelling to a destination outside the EU. An entitled passenger is a passenger holding a transport document for a destination outside the EU and is travelling to that destination from the airport where the export shop is situated.

An export shop can only be sited at an HMRC-designated port or airport, and is usually located in the departure lounge after security controls.

Download guidance on export shops in Notice 197A from the HMRC website (PDF, 1.38MB).

Aircraft store floors

If you want to operate an excise warehouse to supply alcohol products as stores (duty-paid or duty-free) to aircraft, you will need approval from HMRC to operate an ‘aircraft store floor’.

Read information on moving and holding excise goods in aircraft stores in Notice 197B on the HMRC website.

Find out about operating a duty-free aircraft store floor in Notice 198 on the HMRC website.

Further Information

Beer Duty queries contact information from HMRC

Alcohol duties news and updates from HMRC

Alcohol duty guidance and notices from HMRC

Beer Duty - Notice 226 from HMRC

Cider Duty - Notice 162 from HMRC

Form CP 33 - Claim for exemption from registration by a maker of cider or perry for sale - from HMRC

Form CP 30 to register as a cider maker - from HMRC

Wine Duty - Notice 163 from HMRC

Form L 5 - Application to register as a wine producer - from HMRC

Spirits Duty - Notice 39 from HMRC

Form W 21 for Spirits Duty returns - from HMRC

Spirits Duty guidance for rectifiers and compounders - Notice 40 from HMRC

Denatured alcohol - Notice 473 from HMRC

Commercial Importers and Tax Representatives - Notice 204B from HMRC

Excise warehousing - Notice 197 from HMRC

Claiming Alcoholic Ingredients Relief - Notice 41 from HMRC

Form EX 240 from HMRC

Relief for medical, scientific or manufacturing use for alcohol duty - Notice 47 from HMRC

Denatured alcohol authorisation and licensing - Notice 473 from HMRC

Download RMO registration guidance - Notice 202 from HMRC (PDF, 174K)

Excise goods as stores on ships - Notice 69A from HMRC

Excise goods as stores on aircraft - Notice 197B from HMRC

Duty-free aircraft stores - Notice 198 from HMRC

Download export shops guidance - Notice 197A from HMRC (PDF, 1.38MB)

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