Find out how to apply for verification and what happens if you do not.
Who should apply
Apply for verification under the relevant Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme if you:
- are involved in the production of Scotch Whisky in Scotland
- blend, bottle and label, label only or re-label Scotch Whisky outside of Scotland
- are a bulk importer of Scotch Whisky
- are involved in the production of Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream or Irish Poteen in Northern Ireland
- blend, bottle and label, label only or re-label Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream or Irish Poteen outside Northern Ireland
- are involved in the production of, or bottle, Somerset Cider Brandy
If you are a brand owner whose brands are blended or bottled and labelled for you by someone else, you do not need to apply to HMRC for verification. The blender or bottler of your brands is responsible for applying for verification and notifying HMRC of your brands. You will not be able to market any brands which have not been notified. The bottler should send a brands application for all facilities linked to the bottling and labelling of that brand. Blender only operators, however, are not responsible for notifying brands for the end-product.
When to apply
As a producer or bulk importer, you must apply for verification as soon as you become aware that you need to. This should be before you start production or importation.
If you are involved in the processes listed above, you’ll need to apply for verification of each of your premises that carries out the production of a spirit drink with a protected Geographical Indication.
What you’ll need
- the producer’s name, address and telephone number
- the number of facilities you want to register
- each facility’s name, address and shutdown period, if applicable
- billing details
- production processes
How to apply
In limited circumstances, we may accept a paper application instead of an electronic one. These include if the directors or company officers are practising members of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic methods of communication.
If your application for verification is not fully completed it may delay:
- your acceptance onto the verification scheme
- subsequent verification visits
- your ability to produce or legally market spirit drinks with a protected Geographical Indication
If you do not apply
If you do not apply for verification, your production processes will not be assured and any Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream, Irish Poteen or Somerset Cider Brandy that you produce or market will not be verified and cannot be placed on the market. This is because it is not possible to verify products retrospectively.
While there are no financial penalties for failing to apply for verification, it is illegal for you or your customers to produce or market a protected spirit drink that has not been verified by HMRC. If you do so, you or your customers may become liable to enforcement action.
After you’ve applied
Your application will be accepted unless it is returned to you for correction. You’ll receive a letter with the outcome of your verification application.
Your application will apply for as long as you remain in the verification scheme. You do not need to reapply.
HMRC will use the information in your application form to:
- issue invoices
- arrange and undertake verification visits
- manage the verification scheme
- publish details of verified producers and brands on our look-up service
HMRC will send you an invoice to pay your verification fee. You should pay this within 30 days of the date on the invoice.
Production processes will continue to be verified as part of the 2-year cycle of verification, as long as there are no breaches of the regulations or Undertakings. You’ll be charged for the verification services you receive until you want to withdraw from the scheme.
If you are a blender or a bottler and labeller of Scotch Whisky outside Scotland
You’ll continue to be listed on the look-up service as having assured processes, as long as you comply with the Undertaking covering the movement of bulk Scotch Whisky from Scotland. You must renew your Undertaking every 2 years by re-applying online. Once you’ve sent your application for the Undertaking, you should also send HMRC the evidence to show your compliance with the Undertaking. You’ll need to tell HMRC about any additions or changes to the brands you bottle, and their labels.
If you are a bulk importer of Scotch Whisky
Apply online for bulk importer verification. You’ll continue to be listed on the look-up service as long as you comply with the Undertaking covering the movement of Scotch Whisky. You must renew your Undertaking every 2 years by re-applying online. If you no longer wish to be verified, you should tell HMRC.
Applying for verification or having details of your production facilities assured processes or verified brands published on our website is not an endorsement by HMRC of your business, it is also not an indication of your tax compliance.
What happens next
Read the relevant technical guidance to find out about producing: