Guidance

Bringing drinks liable for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy into the UK

Find out if you need to register, report and pay the levy if you’re involved in bringing liable drinks into the UK.

Your business may need to register, report and pay the Soft Drinks Industry Levy if you’re involved in bringing liable drinks into the UK from anywhere else, including the EU, Isle of Man and Channel Islands.

The levy doesn’t apply to anyone whose business doesn’t involve the sale of liable drinks, for example if you only:

  • transport liable drinks
  • provide warehousing for liable drinks

You need to report drinks made by a small producer, but don’t have to pay the levy on them. You must get and keep records that show the drinks are from a small producer as you’ll need to share them with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if asked.

Who reports and pays the levy depends on the point that the levy becomes due on the drinks.

Work out the point that the levy is due

After liable drinks have been brought into the UK, the levy will become due on them the first time they are:

  • removed from a registered warehouse (unless they’re taken directly to another registered warehouse)
  • made available for sale or free of charge
  • received at premises that are all of the following:
    • in the UK
    • owned or run by someone whose business involves the sale of liable drinks
    • not a registered warehouse

You only need to report the drinks the first time one of these events happens.

Drinks brought into the UK to deliver to a customer

If you bring liable drinks into the UK to fulfil an order from an overseas supplier to a UK customer, who needs to register, report and pay the levy will usually depend on who arranged to bring the drinks into the UK.

If the drinks are brought into the UK by the supplier

If you’re an overseas supplier, you have a UK presence, and you arrange to bring liable drinks into the UK, you will need to register, report and pay the levy.

You’ll need to report the drinks in the same Soft Drinks Industry Levy reporting period that they’re brought into the UK.

If the drinks are brought into to the UK by the customer

If you’re a customer, you’ll need to register, report and pay the levy unless your supplier has a UK presence and arranges to bring the drinks into the UK.

If the drinks are received at UK premises owned or run by you (that aren’t a registered warehouse), you’ll need to report the drinks in the reporting period that you receive them.

If the drinks are received at a registered warehouse, you’ll need to report the drinks in the earliest reporting period that the drinks either:

  • leave the registered warehouse
  • are made available for sale or free of charge

If you’re supplying the drinks to another customer, you’ll need to report the drinks in the reporting period that they’re made available to your customer if the drinks are either:

  • delivered to premises owned or run by someone else whose business doesn’t involve the sale of liable drinks before being sold to your customer
  • not moved to premises owned or run by you before being sold to your customer

Drinks brought into the UK for your own stock

If you bring liable drinks into the UK that aren’t to fulfil a specific order for a customer, you’ll need to register, report and pay the levy. An example of this would be bringing stock from your overseas warehouse to your UK warehouse to be used as stock on hand.

You’ll need to report the drinks in the reporting period that they’re received at your UK premises, unless it’s a registered warehouse.

If it is a registered warehouse, you’ll need to report the drinks in the reporting period they leave it or are made available, whichever comes first.

You’ll need to report the drinks in the reporting period that they’re made available to your customer if the drinks are either:

  • delivered to premises owned or run by someone else whose business doesn’t involve the sale of liable drinks before being sold to your customer
  • not moved to premises owned or run by you before being sold to your customer

If you’re not sure who needs to register, report and pay

You’ll need to agree with your commercial partner about who will register, report and pay the levy, based on the specific circumstances, and keep a record of the decision.

If that decision is made in good faith, HMRC will generally be likely to accept it, but they won’t be bound by it. You should avoid any situation where no one registers, reports or pays the levy, which could lead to interest, penalties and, in some cases, criminal charges.

Records you need to keep

For each reporting period, you must keep records of how many litres of liable drinks that you’ve either:

You only need to keep records about which of these events happens first. You must keep these records for 6 years, starting from the last day of the reporting period that the records are for.

If you bring drinks into the UK from a small producer

You’ll need to get a letter from the small producer, dated within 6 months of the date that the drinks are brought into the UK, which includes:

  • the name, address, telephone number, email address, and website of the producer (if the producer is based in the EU, also include their EU VAT number, if they have one)
  • a signature of someone from the small producer, their position in the company and the date of the signature
  • a statement setting out how many litres of liable drinks they’ve produced in the last 12 calendar months

You must keep this for 6 years, starting from the last day of the reporting period that the records are for.

Find out what other general records you need to keep for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

Report and pay the levy

You’ll be able to report and pay the levy using the online service. You’ll need to include liable drinks brought into the UK on your Soft Drinks Industry Levy quarterly returns.

Published 3 April 2018