Guidance

Apply for the Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme

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:

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

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

Apply for verification online.

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:

Published 20 October 2014
Last updated 6 November 2017 + show all updates
  1. Somerset Cider Brandy has been added to the UK Geographical Indication (GI) verification schemes.

  2. Spirits Drinks Verification Look-up Facility section has been updated.

  3. Spirits Drinks Verification Look-up Facility section has been updated.

  4. The Irish whiskey, Irish cream and Irish poteen verification link added to Overview section on this page. The first heading in the Apply section has been changed to Scotch whisky producers based in Scotland and Irish whiskey/cream/poteen producers based in Northern Ireland Irish whiskey/cream/poteen producers should select ‘Other Geographical Indicators’ and type in the appropriate Irish product.

  5. The list of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland has been updated.

  6. List of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland spreadsheet updated as of September 2015

  7. List of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland spreadsheet updated as of July 2015.

  8. List of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland spreadsheet updated as of May 2015.

  9. List of verified facilities and processes outside Scotland spreadsheet updated as of March 2015.

  10. Guidance update on the introduction of a new on line look up service for verified Bulk Importers of Scotch Whisky and production facilities outside Scotland.

  11. First published.