Beer Duty

If you’re a brewer or packager, find out what duties you are responsible for, when you need to pay and discounts you could get.


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 - for example shandy

Beer is liable for Beer Duty as soon as it’s ‘produced’. This is when the earliest of the events below takes place. When the beer is:

  • packaged
  • removed from the brewery
  • consumed
  • lost
  • fit for consumption

Register as a brewer or packager

If you produce beer for commercial reasons and its strength exceeds 1.2% ABV, you must pay Beer Duty. To do this you must register as a brewer with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

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 you must tell HMRC about your activities, and they will tell you if you need to register to pay Beer Duty. 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

Beer duty suspension

Beer Duty doesn’t always have to be paid to HMRC immediately. You can apply to 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 - for example, bottling
  • send it to a registered beer packager

To deposit your beer in an excise warehouse, you need to be approved by HMRC as a registered owner of warehoused goods.

Also, the excise warehouse must have HMRC approval to hold beer in. To receive and hold beer in duty suspension at your premises it must be of a class or description that your registration lets you hold.

You can receive beer from:

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

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

  • when the beer 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

Read more about receiving, storing and moving excise goods.

Returns and payments

You have to submit a Beer Duty return (form EX46) to HMRC by the 15th day of the month after your accounting period. You should do this even if your duty liability is nil.

You must then pay any Beer Duty declared on your return by the 25th day of the next month (normally by Direct Debit).

Where beer is placed in an excise warehouse, you must pay the Beer Duty using either:

Read more on Beer Duty returns and payments.

Read about completing forms W5 or W5D.

Beer Duty rates

Most beers are charged General Beer Duty, but there are additional rates for high and low strength beer.

Get the latest Beer Duty rates.

Reduced rates for small brewers

If you produced no more than 60,000 hectolitres of beer in the previous calendar year you may be entitled to a reduced duty rate. The reduced rates are part of the Small Breweries’ Relief scheme and have a sliding scale. Reductions start at 50% for production of 5,000 hectolitres or less and decrease for larger production volumes.

Different rates for beer mixed with spirits

You will need to pay Spirits Duty instead of Beer Duty if you mix beer with spirits, producing a recognisable increase in the alcoholic strength. This applies even if the majority of the final product is beer.

Published 9 November 2009