Guidance

Wine Duty and licences for wine and made-wine producers

Check if you need a licence to produce wine or made-wine and if you need to pay Wine Duty.

Wine Duty

You pay Wine Duty when you make wine or ‘made-wine’ to sell and it’s more than 1.2% ABV (alcohol by volume).

Wine

Wine is made by fermentation of fresh grapes or grape must (freshly pressed fruit juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit).

Made-wine

Made-wine is any other drink that has alcohol made by fermentation apart from cider, not by distillation or any other process. For example, mead is a made-wine.

Beer may be classed as made-wine if it’s mixed with other products and has an ABV greater than 5.5%.

In this guide, ‘wine’ refers to both wine and made-wine.

Fortified wine or wine mixed with spirits

You must pay duty at the spirits duty rate if you make:

  • wine strengthened to above 22% ABV
  • a drink that’s classed as a spirit because most of the volume or alcohol of the final product comes from the spirit part

Sparkling wine

You must pay the sparkling wine rates of duty if the wine has an ABV of more than 5.5%, but not more than 15% ABV, and:

  • it’s in a closed bottle with excess pressure of 3 bars or more at 20°C due to carbon dioxide
  • regardless of pressure, it’s held in a closed bottle with a mushroom-shaped stopper held in place by a tie or fastening

Low strength wine

You do not pay duty on wine that has 1.2% ABV or less. But you must record details of the manufacturing operations in your production records. You can move the wine using your commercial dispatch documents.

If you want to make low strength wine by removing alcohol, you should contact the Excise Enquiries Helpline who’ll advise you on the rules that may affect the process you use.

Who needs a licence to produce wine

You can only produce wine without a licence if it’s not for sale.

If you produce wine to sell and it’s more than 1.2% ABV, you must apply for a wine licence from HMRC and pay Wine Duty.

You must also be licensed if you turn wine into sparkling wine, unless you plan to carry this process out in an excise warehouse. You can produce wine on the same licensed premises that you make sparkling wine.

Commercial growers and lessees

You need a licence as a commercial grower or lessee if you want to receive wine, made on your behalf, from a licensed producer without paying them Wine Duty.

You’ll need to comply with storage requirements and pay duty when it becomes due.

Contact the Excise Enquiries Helpline for more information about these arrangements.

Apply for a wine producer’s licence

You can apply for a licence to:

  • produce wine
  • produce made-wine
  • receive wine made on your behalf, from a licensed producer, if you’re a commercial grower or lessee

You need a licence for each site where you’re going to produce wine to sell. You’ll need to fill in a separate form for each licence.

You must also send plans of your premises with your application. You must show where your wine-making equipment will be sited on your premises, along with any identifiable markings on the equipment.

If you’re a commercial grower or lessee who plans to take out an excise licence, you must give a plan of where you’ll store the wine and the full address of the premises.

Retail premises, within or attached to your licensed premises, are not included in the licensed premises. You must pay duty on any wine going into the retail premises when it’s moved from the licensed premises.

If you’ve removed wine from your licensed premises to the UK home market, and you’re applying for a licence for the first time, you must arrange for a guarantee to cover any duty you owe until you’ve paid HMRC.

If you have a question about your application after you’ve sent it, write to:

HM Revenue and Customs
Excise Processing Teams (EPT)
BX9 1GL

For enquiries before you send your application, contact the Excise Enquiries Helpline.

It can take up to 45 days for HMRC to process your application.

It’s an offence, and you’ll be liable to a penalty, if you make wine to sell:

  • on premises that are not licensed
  • if you are not licensed

If you have not applied for a licence, you must tell us as soon as possible.

After you apply for a licence

HMRC will check your application and may visit your premises. If we accept your application, we’ll send you an excise licence. This will confirm the date the licence starts and any conditions. Your premises will be licensed as a wine production premises. Licensed wine and made-wine production premises are tax warehouses but not excise warehouses.

If we refuse your application, we’ll tell you why in writing. You can appeal against our decision.

Your licence will last until production ends. You must tell us in writing if you plan to stop production or when you’ve stopped production.

Responsibilities of a licensed wine producer

As a licensed wine producer you must:

You must also be approved for the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme if you sell duty paid alcohol to another business.

Tell us about cash transactions

You need to tell HMRC if you have been paid, or you expect to be paid, more than £9,000 (or the equivalent in other currencies) in cash for:

  • duty suspended wine
  • services related to duty suspended wine (providing storage facilities, handling charges, packaging of wine)

If you are paid in multiple instalments which are lower than £9,000 but the overall amount is above the threshold, you should tell us when you receive the first cash payment.

You need to complete a notification of cash payments to report that payment

Changes affecting your licence

Tell us about changes that could affect your licence, including:

  • stopping production
  • change of partner details
  • change of director details
  • change of address of your licensed premises - you will need to submit new plans of your premises
  • changing the name of the licensed person, for example, change of company name (where the same company number is kept)
  • the production of other excisable goods on your premises
  • financial difficulties or impending insolvency
  • becoming VAT registered or deregistered

You must write to:

HM Revenue and Customs
Excise Processing Teams (EPT)
BX9 1GL

It can take up to 15 working days to make changes to your current licence, so please tell us about any changes as soon as possible.

Some changes would need a new application and plans of your premises to be submitted, for example change:

  • of legal entity, for example, formation of a limited company
  • in the ownership or control of your business (in the case of a sole proprietor or partnership)

It can take up to 45 working days to process your new application, so tell HMRC about any changes as soon as possible.

What you can do with an excise licence

As a licensed wine producer you can:

  • make wine on your licensed premises
  • carry out operations and procedures including the removal of duty suspended wine to other approved UK and EU warehouses
  • store, in duty suspense on your licensed premises, wine produced at those premises
  • receive wine, in duty suspense, from other appropriately approved warehouses for further processing
  • receive back, in duty suspense, your own product from other warehouses (that are approved to receive wine) where it has undergone further processing, for example aeration, pasteurisation and bottling

You are not allowed to take spirits, beer, cider, imported wine or imported made-wine in duty suspense.

You are not allowed to take wine that’s ready to sell from another licensed premises or approved warehouse unless:

  • it was originally produced on your licensed premises
  • you’re a commercial grower, who’s licensed to produce wine, and the wine was produced on your behalf by a licensed producer

You must apply for approval as a Trade Facility Warehouse if you want to produce wine using:

  • spirits for fortification
  • beer
  • cider
  • imported wine

Using your licensed premises for other excise trades

You can use your premises for other excise trades (for example, as a compounder of spirits) if:

  • you’re licensed or registered to carry out that trade
  • you observe restrictions or conditions imposed by HMRC
  • your working practices and records identify the trade being carried out in any room, vessel or piece of equipment that can be used for 2 or more trades
Published 9 November 2009