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New HMRC spirit production guidelines drafted to help improve business licensing

Published:  08 August, 2016

New guidelines are being drafted by the HMRC to help distillers looking to apply to become a licensed spirit producers in the UK easier.

The proposed changes are to Notice 39, which outlines what is required and how a business might go about becoming a licensed distiller.

"The new guidance is set in draft in Notice 39: Spirits Production, which brings together HMRC's stated policies and procedures for the licensing and approval of all types of spirits production.  For the first time, a single HMRC public notice now covers the manufacture of gin and other spirits alongside "traditional" distilling of alcohol.  When finalised, it will give clear guidance and direction not only to the industry but also to HMRC staff having to deal with the licensing and control of spirits producers," said Alan Powell, the co-founder of the British Distillers Association.

The HMRC has solicited feedback from trade bodies including the British Distillers Alliance, on how the guidelines might be improved. Powell has welcomed the opportunity for the trade to participate in making recommendations in how the process may be made clearer.

"We commit to work collaboratively with HMRC to produce an effective guidance document for both new applicants and established businesses.  This exercise can also go some considerable way to map out a simplified system for the approval and control by HMRC of all alcohol production," said Powell.

The recent presided changes include making the application process easier to follow, clearly outlining the application procedure for approval to operate a distiller's warehouse, as well as some of the documents, like a business plan and specific forms, that business owners will need when applying.  The document also helps to outline specific timelines to be aware of when a business is looking to become licensed. For example, 45 working days is standard time take to process applications prior to the start of production.