Alcohol Licence Law Duty stamps

Published on October 22nd, 2012 | by Dean Carr

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Recognising UK Duty Stamps

The UK Duty Stamps Scheme is a new measure aimed at tackling spirits duty fraud, and came into force from early 2006.

The UK Duty Stamps Scheme applies to bottles of spirits and wine with a strength of 30 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV) or more, contained in bottles of 35 centilitres capacity or above. The Duty Stamp indicates that tax has either been paid or is due to be paid on the contents of the bottle, to which it is attached.

All qualifying bottles of spirits must bear a Duty Stamp when they pass the UK excise duty point and are released onto the UK market.

The risks of counterfeit stock

It is essential for shopkeepers and other retailers to check the duty stamps on new stock. The duty stamp is also a mark of trade standards. Counterfeit spirits can fail to meet consumer health requirements and put lives at risk, as Lincolnshire Trading Standards have explained: “Counterfeit vodka can contain all sorts of things that are harmful to health, such as industrial alcohol, which is often used for cleaning fluid or solvents.” Retailers should only accept stock from registered suppliers. Stock provided at a discount without a valid VAT receipt should be rejected as it may be counterfeit or smuggled.

How to check that duty stamps on purchased stock are genuine

Under a UV light, such as the retailer’s device you might use to check currency or I.D., the central section of every duty stamp should glow yellow.

If you are concerned about the validity of a duty stamp, or suspect the product itself might be counterfeit, you are advised to contact the confidential Customs Hotline on 0800 595 000. Alternatively, you can complete a secure online web form at Customs Hotline – information report form guide, or you can email the Customs Hotline.

Takeaway Zorbas 4 loses alcohol licence

A kebab house in Stamford has had its premises licence revoked after an inspection by Trading Standards Officers uncovered counterfeit vodka.

Two bottles of counterfeit Smirnoff vodka were found, along with five bottles of Vodka Extra with invalid duty stamps. Analysis of the Smirnoff showed it contained iso-propanol, which is used in cleaning fluids and is unfit for human consumption.

The premises licence holder had bought the alcohol indirectly from a friend’s uncle, who could offer a cheaper rate than their previous supplier, a cash and carry.

After hearing the evidence from both sides, councillors decided to revoke the alcohol licence for Zorbas 4.

Source: Stamford Mercury

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About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188



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  1. […] A third of the world’s alcohol is estimated to come from illicit production. Retailers should be aware of the serious dangers to health associated with counterfeit alcohol and should always reject ‘dodgy’ stock. Read more about stock control in Recognising UK Duty Stamps. […]

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