UK Duty Stamps Scheme

HMRC Reference:Notice DS5 (May 2010) View Change History
 

Contents

Foreword

1. Introduction

1.1 What is this notice about?

1.2 Where can I get further information or advice?

1.3 What other notices will I need?

2. Legal background

2.1 Where will I find details of the law relating to duty stamps?

2.2 How do you refer to the law in this notice?

2.3 Where can I get copies of the law?

2.4 What happens if I fail to meet my legal obligations?

3. Products required to bear duty stamps

3.1 What products are required to bear duty stamps?

3.2 Are all bottles required to bear a stamp?

3.3 Are there any circumstances in which products must not bear a duty stamp?

3.4 Are goods imported by private individuals required to bear a stamp?

4. Exceptions to the duty stamp requirements

4.1 Are there circumstances in which goods fall within the scope of duty stamp requirements but do not have to bear a stamp?

5. Specification of duty stamps

5.1 How many different types of duty stamp are there?

5.2 Which type of stamp should I use?

5.3 In addition to the stamp, what other information must my bottle label show?

5.4 Can I incorporate stamps into labels in which the brand information is provided in the form of a barcode?

5.5 Does my printer need to use special inks when printing my labels?

6. Registration

6.1 Who can register for the duty stamps scheme?

6.2 How do I register?

6.3 When do I need to register?

6.4 Will you refuse to register anyone?

6.5 Is there a charge to register or to order duty stamps?

6.6 What information will I have to provide when I apply?

6.7 Do I need to appoint a duty stamp representative if I am based outside the UK?

6.8 Can a duty stamp representative act on behalf of more than one overseas principal?

6.9 My business owns five different excise warehouses; do I need to register each one separately for duty stamp purposes?

6.10 I operate a business which is based in the UK but is owned by a parent company based abroad. Who should register for duty stamps purposes?

6.11 I own goods in a warehouse but am not a warehousekeeper, how do I get stamps affixed to my goods?

6.12 How will I know if you have accepted my application for registration?

6.13 Can I cancel my registration?

6.14 What happens if my registration details change?

6.15 Can a duty representative registered under WOWGR register for duty stamps?

6.16 Can a customs warehousekeeper register for duty stamps?

6.17 I hold goods under a customs duty suspensive procedure – can I register for duty stamps?

6.18 Do I need to register in order to affix stamps to bottles for other registered people?

6.19 Can I acquire stamps and affix them to goods that I do not own?

Yes. For instance, an authorised warehousekeeper can acquire and affix stamps on goods that he is storing in his warehouse on behalf of a registered owner of goods.

6.20 I am registered and have obtained free-standing stamps – can I pass them onto someone else?

6.21 Do I need to register to incorporate stamps into labels?

6.22 Can a Temporary Registered Consignee register?

6.23 Can a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme register?

6.24 Will my registration have a time limit?

6.25 Can I appeal if you refuse to register me?

6.26 On what grounds can HMRC deregister me?

6.27 Can I appeal if I am deregistered?

7. Label stamps

7.1 How do I acquire the design specification for the label stamp?

7.2 What if the delivery is not what I ordered?

7.3 In what format will the design specification of the label stamp be sent to me?

7.4 How big is the label stamp?

7.5 Can I pass the design on to my label printer?

7.6 Can I pass the design you have issued to me to other traders who wish to have labels produced?

7.7 What if the person incorporating the stamps into my bottle labels is based outside the UK?

7.8 Does my printer need any special accreditation in order to use the design specification?

7.9 How will I know if our supplier has fulfilled the requirements of the label stamp design specification?

7.10 Can I send the design specification to more than one printer?

7.11 Can my printer use the design specification I have provided for other traders?

7.12 Can a Temporary Registered Consignee arrange for goods to bear label stamps?

7.13 Can a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme arrange for goods to bear label stamps?

7.14 Do I have to keep the label stamp design and any loose labels bearing duty stamps in a secure place?

7.15 What happens if labels incorporating stamps or the CD-ROM incorporating the design specification are lost or stolen?

7.16 How will the design be delivered to me?

7.17 What if the order does not turn up – who should I contact?

7.18 What happens if I fail to meet a customer’s order due to a delay in the ordering process?

8. Free-standing stamps

8.1 How do I acquire free-standing stamps?

8.2 I am a Temporary Registered Consignee – how do I obtain free-standing stamps?

8.3 I am a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme – how do I obtain free-standing stamps?

8.4 What is the maximum number of free-standing stamps I can order from your contractor at one time?

8.5 How quickly will I receive the stamps that I have ordered?

8.6 How will my stamps be delivered to me?

8.7 What if the order does not turn up – who should I contact?

8.8 What happens if I fail to meet a customer’s order due to a delay in the ordering process?

8.9 What if the order I receive is incorrect?

8.10 Do I have to keep my free-standing stamps in a secure place?

8.11 Can I pass on my free-standing stamps to anyone else?

8.12 What if I need to make changes to my order after completing it?

8.13 What if the person affixing stamps on my behalf changes from when I ordered the stamps?

8.14 What if the place where the stamps will be affixed changes from when I ordered the stamps?

8.15 What if the place where I am holding unstamped goods changes from the place I specified when I placed my order?

8.16 What happens if free-standing stamps are lost, stolen or destroyed?

8.17 In what form will the stamps be provided to me?

9. Affixing duty stamps

9.1 When must duty stamps be affixed?

9.2 What about products bottled overseas?

9.3 Do free-standing stamps have to be affixed in a tax warehouse?

9.4 Can I affix free-standing stamps anywhere on the bottle?

9.5 How big is the free-standing stamp?

9.6 If I am using label stamps for my product, can I incorporate the stamp anywhere within my product label?

9.7 If I sell my product in a presentation box or tube, is it sufficient to affix a stamp to the packaging, rather than the bottle?

9.8 What sort of adhesive should I use to affix stamps?

9.9 Under what circumstances can I pass on free-standing duty stamps to someone else for affixing to bottles?

9.10 Can I pass on the label stamp design specification to be incorporated into a label by someone else?

9.11 How will a Registered Consignee (excluding a Temporary Registered Consignee) or a Registered Commercial Importer affix stamps?

9.12 What happens if I, a Registered Consignee or Registered Commercial Importer order stamps for consignments which arrive already bearing a stamp?

9.13 How will a Temporary Registered Consignee or a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme affix stamps?

9.14 What should I do if I affix the wrong stamps or labels to bottles?

9.15 What happens if I am left with free-standing stamps which I no longer need?

9.16 What should I do with my free-standing stamps, or labels incorporating stamps if I am disqualified from registration?

9.17 Do I have to return the CD-ROM and label stamp design specification to the contractor if I am disqualified from registration?

9.18 Can I use a label stamp without incorporating it into a label?

9.19 Can I, as a retailer, affix stamps to goods I hold in my retail premises?

9.20 How do I check that duty stamps on goods I purchase are genuine?

10 Distance selling and gifts

10.1 What is distance selling?

10.2 How do I affix duty stamps if I purchase goods under a distance selling arrangement?

10.3 I am a UK Tax Representative for a distance selling arrangement – can I register for duty stamps purposes?

10.4 What if I receive a gift from a person in another Member State?

10.5 What if I want to import goods from a country outside of the EU?

11. Record keeping

11.1 Who is required to keep records for duty stamps purposes?

11.2 What records do I need to keep as a registered person who acquires and affixes free-standing stamps?

11.3 What records do I need to keep if I affix free-standing stamps for a registered person but am not registered myself?

11.4 What records must I keep as a registered person who acquires free-standing stamps but has them affixed by someone else?

11.5 Am I required to show in my records, the unique reference numbers of the stamps I have affixed on each bottle in a case?

11.6 Do my day-to-day records for free-standing stamps have to show the whole of the unique reference number?

11.7 What records am I required to keep if I use label stamps?

11.8 Do I need to complete details on the eAD?

11.9 Do cases containing goods that bear a duty stamp have to be marked to show that they are stamped?

12. Removals from warehouse of stamped goods

12.1 Can I remove duty stamped goods from a warehouse in duty-suspension?

12.2 In what circumstances can I remove unstamped product from a warehouse?

12.3 Do the same arrangements apply to removals from premises registered under the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979?

13. Duty stamps and the Isle of Man (IOM)

13.1 What are the duty stamp requirements in the Isle of Man (IOM)?

13.2 Should goods released to home use in the IOM bear a duty stamp?

13.3 Should goods consigned from the IOM to the UK bear a duty stamp?

14. Offences and penalties

14.1 What is the penalty for removing goods to home use which do not bear a duty stamp?

14.2 What happens if I affix incorrect stamps?

14.3 Is it an offence to sell unstamped spirits?

14.4 What does summary conviction mean?

14.5 Can I alter or overprint duty stamps?

14.6 Will I be committing an offence if I allow my premises to be used for the sale of unstamped spirits?

14.7 Can I appeal against a civil penalty?

14.8 Where can I get more information about the appeals process?

14.9 What if I still hold unstamped product in my retail premises?

14.10 Is it an offence to refill bottles that bear a duty stamp after the original contents have been consumed?

15. Exportation of duty stamped goods

15.1 Can I export stamped goods?

15.2 Do I have to give notice to HMRC if I intend to export goods which have had the duty stamps removed?

15.3 Can I claim drawback on duty stamped goods?

15.4 Can I export duty-paid goods?

15.5 How do I go about voiding a duty stamp?

15.6 Do I need to give HMRC notice if I intend to remove or obliterate duty stamps?

15.7 Do I have to give notice to HMRC if I intend to export goods where the duty stamps have been removed or obliterated?

16. How we use your information

Annex 1 Am I eligible for registration?

Annex 2 Monochrome images of the two types of duty stamp

Free-standing stamp

Label stamp

Glossary of terms

If you have a question about VAT, Excise or Customs duty

Putting things right

 

Foreword

This notice cancels and replaces Notice DS5 (June 2006).

1. Introduction

1.1 What is this notice about?

This notice explains the United Kingdom’s (UK) requirements for the duty stamping of retail containers of spirits, wine and made-wine that are intended for consumption in the UK. You should read it if you:

  • are an authorised warehousekeeper, a Registered Consignee, a Temporary Registered Consignee, a Registered Commercial Importer, a Commercial Importer, a Tax Representative or an owner of goods held in an excise warehouse
  • import or export spirits, wine or made-wine
  • sell spirits, wine or made-wine by wholesale or retail in the UK
  • are a producer or bottler, whether in the UK or abroad, of spirits destined for the UK market.

The notice contains the general conditions and requirements for businesses using duty stamps and explains the circumstances in which retail containers of spirits and wine or made-wine must, and must not, bear a stamp.

1.2 Where can I get further information or advice?

For further information and advice phone the Excise Helpline on 0300 200 3700. Further details are published on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website, go to www.hmrc.gov.uk.

1.3 What other notices will I need?

You will need:

Title


Notice number


Excise Goods: Receipt into and removal from an excise warehouse of excise goods


197


Spirits production in the United Kingdom


39


Registered Consignees


203A


Temporary Registered Consignees


204A


Commercial Importers and Tax Representatives: EU trade in duty-paid excise goods


204B


Revenue traders’ records


206


2. Legal background

2.1 Where will I find details of the law relating to duty stamps?

Schedule 2A of the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 (ALDA) sets out the primary legal provisions for duty stamps.

The detailed requirements of the scheme are contained in the Duty Stamps Regulations 2006 (the Regulations).

2.2 How do you refer to the law in this notice?

When we refer to the law in this notice, we will show the standard abbreviations as shown in paragraph 2.1.

2.3 Where can I get copies of the law?

You can obtain copies from the Stationery Office. You will find more details on the Office of Public Sector Information website. Alternatively you can obtain copies from any legal publisher.

2.4 What happens if I fail to meet my legal obligations?

If you are registered for duty stamps purposes, are authorised to affix duty stamps, or hold spirits which are required to bear a duty stamp, you have obligations under the law. Failure to meet these obligations could result in forfeiture of the goods and/or civil penalties.

If you are convicted of one of the criminal offences listed in annex 1 you will cease to be registered for duty stamps purposes (this is in addition to any punishment administered by the courts).

3. Products required to bear duty stamps

3.1 What products are required to bear duty stamps?

All bottles and other retail containers of spirits, and wine or made-wine, with a strength of 30% alcohol by volume or more, of a capacity of 35cl or more, are required to bear a duty stamp if they are removed to home use in the UK.

In this notice we refer to bottles rather than retail containers. All such references should be taken to include any other container in which, or from which, spirits and wine or made-wine may be sold by retail.

3.2 Are all bottles required to bear a stamp?

No. Only bottles and other containers with a capacity of 35cl or more, in which, or from which, relevant product is to be sold by retail, are required to bear stamps.

3.3 Are there any circumstances in which products must not bear a duty stamp?

Yes. Relevant products must not bear a duty stamp when they are:

  • entered for removal, or removed from an excise warehouse or winery, for exportation or shipment as stores
  • exported (other than by private individuals for their own use)
  • intended for consumption outside the UK (other than those exported by private individuals for their own use), or
  • presented for retail sale outside the UK.

3.4 Are goods imported by private individuals required to bear a stamp?

If the goods are for own use (for example, not for retail sale) then they are not required to bear a duty stamp. However, if you intend to sell the goods within the UK they are required to bear a duty stamp.

4. Exceptions to the duty stamp requirements

4.1 Are there circumstances in which goods fall within the scope of duty stamp requirements but do not have to bear a stamp?

Yes. The following products do not require a duty stamp:

  • Goods held or sold by Registered Mobile Operators (RMOs), which has the meaning given in Regulation 2(1) of the Excise Goods (Sales on Board Ships and Aircraft) Regulations 1999. This applies whether goods are sold under the standard procedure for RMOs or the closed shop procedure. However, it is acceptable for such goods to bear a stamp, for example, if the goods are sourced from duty-paid stock.
  • Goods used in Export Shops, which has the meaning given in Regulation 3 of the Excise Goods (Export Shops) Regulations 2000. However, it is acceptable for such goods to bear a stamp, for example, if the goods are sourced from duty-paid stock.
  • Goods imported into the UK by private individuals, from outside the EU, as part of their travellers’ allowance.
  • Goods imported into the UK by private individuals, from outside the EU, which exceed the individual’s allowance and which are declared (as required by Section 78(1) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979) and the Excise Duty due on the goods is paid.
  • Goods imported into the UK by private individuals, for their own use, from other EU Member States.
  • Goods for the use of diplomats which are relieved of duty under Section 13A(1) of the Customs and Excise Duties (General Reliefs) Act 1979. However, it is acceptable for such goods to bear a stamp in particular instances, for example, if only stamped goods are available when an order is received.
  • Goods being held on a compounder’s premises that are the subject of a drawback claim provided that the compounder has complied with Regulation 8(1) or (2) of the Excise Goods (Drawback) Regulations 1995.

5. Specification of duty stamps

5.1 How many different types of duty stamp are there?

The duty stamp is available in two formats:

  • a product specific stamp (referred to in the law as a type A stamp) to be attached directly to the bottle. In this notice we refer to these as free-standing stamps, and
  • a stamp (referred to in the law as a type B stamp) incorporated into bottle labels and printed by the industry’s own label printers. In this notice we refer to these as label stamps.

Each free-standing stamp has a unique number printed on the face. This number contains an alpha identifier, which denotes the product type. For example, W50000012345 is a free-standing stamp for Whisky/Whiskey. Free-standing stamps are available showing the following product types:

  • Whisky/Whiskey (W)
  • Gin (G)
  • Vodka (V)
  • Rum (R)
  • Brandy (B), and
  • Other product (P).

The product type on the free-standing stamp must refer to the description of the contents of the bottle to which it is attached. If you are in doubt about which product type is appropriate you should be guided by the definitions contained in Council Regulation (EEC) 1576/89. Where your product does not fall within the definitions of whisky/whiskey, gin, vodka, rum or brandy the 'other product' product type must be used.

Each separate label design issued by our contractor features a unique reference number to identify the person to whom it was issued.

5.2 Which type of stamp should I use?

In most cases you can choose whether to use free-standing or label stamps, according to your individual circumstances.

However, there are certain exceptions:

  • if you are a Registered Owner of goods in warehouse you can only obtain and affix label stamps
  • if you are a Temporary Registered Consignee you can only obtain and affix free-standing stamps
  • if you are a Commercial Importer, using the standard scheme, you can only obtain and affix free-standing stamps.

Note: If you are an authorised warehousekeeper, a Registered Consignee, a Registered Commercial Importer or a Tax Representative you may order label stamps as well as free-standing stamps.

5.3 In addition to the stamp, what other information must my bottle label show?

Labels which incorporate duty stamps must also show one of the following:

  • in an easily legible form, a brand under which it is intended that the alcoholic liquor will be sold by retail
  • the trademark of the product contained in the bottle
  • details of the producer, or
  • details of the business marketing the product.

5.4 Can I incorporate stamps into labels in which the brand information is provided in the form of a barcode?

No. A barcode does not contain a visible image which identifies the person who either produced the product or is responsible for its marketing.

5.5 Does my printer need to use special inks when printing my labels?

Yes. Label stamps must be printed using inks that do not normally fade when exposed to sunlight for a year or more, are water fast and are scuff resistant.

In addition, certain parts of the stamp must be printed using inks which fluoresce yellow under UV light. Full details of the specification of the inks required, and a printed proof for matching purposes, will be given to registered businesses when they are issued with the stamp design specification.

6. Registration

6.1 Who can register for the duty stamps scheme?

Subject to the conditions set out at paragraph 6.4 below, registration will be available to the following:

Region


Class of person able to apply to register for duty stamps


United Kingdom


  • Authorised warehousekeepers
  • Licensed compounders
  • Registered owners of goods in a warehouse
  • Registered Consignees (excluding Temporary Registered Consignees)
  • Registered Commercial Importers
  • Tax Representatives
  • Importers who are importing goods from third countries and who are not authorised to hold or own excise goods in duty-suspension
  • Bottlers (or persons who re-bottle) duty-paid spirits
  • Duty Stamp Representatives

EU and their external territories (see note below for definition)


  • Authorised warehousekeepers

Outside the EU and external territories.


  • Anyone who carries on a business which consists of, or includes, distilling, manufacturing or bottling, relevant product.

For duty stamps purposes, 'external territories' means a place in a Member State to which Council Directive 2008/118/EC does not apply, an EEA State, or a territory for whose external relations the UK or another Member State is responsible.

Annex 1 of this notice will assist you in establishing whether you are eligible to register.

6.2 How do I register?

There are two ways to register. You can submit an application form using our online service on our website, go to www.hmrc.gov.uk

Alternatively, you can complete form DS1 Duty Stamps: Application to register, which can be downloaded from our website. Once completed the form should be sent to the National Registration Unit at the address shown on the form.

6.3 When do I need to register?

You will need to register to acquire free-standing stamps, or the design specification for the label stamp. You do not need to register if you:

  • will be affixing duty stamps on behalf of a registered person who will supply you with label stamps or labels, or
  • you are a Temporary Registered Consignee or a Commercial Importer who is using the standard scheme. Instead you should order your free-standing stamps direct from HMRC. Further details are contained in Notice 204A Temporary Registered Consignees and Notice 204B Commercial Importers and Tax Representatives - EU trade in duty-paid excise goods.

6.4 Will you refuse to register anyone?

We cannot register you if:

  • you are an undischarged bankrupt, or a debt relief order has been made in respect of you (or if you have an equivalent status outside the UK)
  • you, or a director of an incorporated company applying for registration, or a partner, in the case of a partnership applying for registration, have an unspent criminal conviction for an offence listed in annex 1 (relevant offences)
  • you are based in another Member State, but are not an authorised warehousekeeper (or the equivalent in an external territory)
  • you are based outside the EU and external territories, but do not carry on a business that consists of or includes distilling, manufacturing, or bottling relevant product
  • you are based in the UK and are not already registered under an existing excise registration requirement such as under the Warehousekeepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations 1999 or are not registering for the purposes of importing alcoholic liquor from a third country or do not bottle or re-bottle duty-paid spirits in the UK
  • you have been issued with an excise civil penalty during the previous five years, which has not been paid, quashed or withdrawn.

6.5 Is there a charge to register or to order duty stamps?

No. There is no charge to register for the duty stamps scheme or to obtain free-standing stamps or the design specification for the label stamp.

6.6 What information will I have to provide when I apply?

You will need to provide the following information on the application form:

  • your name, address, legal status, UK VAT Registration Number (if you have one), your Excise ID number (if you have one) and the type of business you operate (for example, warehousekeeper, Registered Consignee, and so on)
  • whether you are registering in order to acquire free-standing stamps, or applying to incorporate the stamp into your own labels, or both
  • whether you are acting as a duty stamp representative for an overseas principal, and if so, your principal’s name, address, legal entity and type of business
  • the number of free-standing stamps you expect to order in the next 12 months (if any) and the number of free-standing stamps you would have needed in the previous year
  • for label stamps, the name and address of the label printer(s) that you will use
  • details of any goods which were in your possession and which you have had seized within the past five years and which have not been restored to you, and
  • a declaration that you are not disqualified from registration.

6.7 Do I need to appoint a duty stamp representative if I am based outside the UK?

No. There is no legal requirement for an overseas business to appoint a duty stamp representative in the UK for duty stamps purposes. You may, however, appoint a representative in the UK, to acquire free-standing stamps or the design of the label stamp, or produce or affix label stamps on your behalf if you wish, provided both you (as the principal) and your duty stamp representative qualify to be registered.

If you are an overseas business and wish to appoint a UK duty stamp representative, it is the representative who must register. On their application they should indicate that they intend to act as a duty stamp representative, and provide your (the principal) business details. A duty stamp representative will be treated in exactly the same way as every other registered trader.

6.8 Can a duty stamp representative act on behalf of more than one overseas principal?

Yes. Provided each overseas principal is not disqualified from registration and the duty stamp representative has notified us that they will be acting on behalf of these on their registration form.

If the details of these overseas principals they represent changes, the duty stamp representative must notify us on form DS4 Application to amend Duty Stamp registration details. This form can be downloaded from our website, go to www.hmrc.gov.uk

6.9 My business owns five different excise warehouses; do I need to register each one separately for duty stamp purposes?

No. You can register the business as a single entity and order stamps for each of the five warehouses as necessary.

6.10 I operate a business which is based in the UK but is owned by a parent company based abroad. Who should register for duty stamps purposes?

Provided that both businesses meet the registration criteria set out in this section of the notice, either one, or both of them, could register for duty stamps purposes. However, if only the parent company registers in order to provide stamps to the UK business, the UK business could only affix stamps to bottles provided it was doing this on behalf of the parent company.

6.11 I own goods in a warehouse but am not a warehousekeeper, how do I get stamps affixed to my goods?

Registered owners of goods in warehouse (as registered under the Warehousekeepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations 1999 (WOWGR)) may register to receive the design specification for label stamps.

However, as a registered owner you cannot order and apply free-standing stamps. If you want to have free-standing stamps affixed to products that you own, the warehousekeeper storing your goods may be able to register and affix free-standing stamps for you.

6.12 How will I know if you have accepted my application for registration?

We will acknowledge receipt of your application and issue a registration letter to you, containing your registration number.

6.13 Can I cancel my registration?

Yes. To cancel your registration you will need to submit form DS3 Application to cancel duty stamps registration to the address provided on the form. This form can be downloaded from our website, go to www.hmrc.gov.uk

6.14 What happens if my registration details change?

You are required to notify us of any changes to your registration details within seven days of the change. This can include changes to your trading name, address etc or where you intend using a different printer to print your labels. You should notify all changes on form DS4 Application to amend duty stamp registration details. This form can be downloaded from our website, go to www.hmrc.gov.uk

6.15 Can a duty representative registered under WOWGR register for duty stamps?

No. If you are a duty representative registered under the Warehousekeeper and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations (WOWGR) 1999 you cannot apply for registration. However, you may find that another person in your supply chain can order and affix stamps for you, for example, the authorised warehousekeeper storing the goods.

6.16 Can a customs warehousekeeper register for duty stamps?

No. If you are a customs warehousekeeper you cannot apply for duty stamp purposes. However, you can register if your business fits into one of the categories listed in paragraph 6.1.

6.17 I hold goods under a customs duty suspensive procedure – can I register for duty stamps?

No. If you hold goods under a customs suspensive procedure you cannot register for duty stamp purposes. However, you can register if your business fits into one of the categories listed in paragraph 6.1.

6.18 Do I need to register in order to affix stamps to bottles for other registered people?

No. You can be authorised, by a person who is registered, to affix stamps to relevant products on their behalf.

6.19 Can I acquire stamps and affix them to goods that I do not own?

Yes. For instance, an authorised warehousekeeper can acquire and affix stamps on goods that he is storing in his warehouse on behalf of a registered owner of goods.

6.20 I am registered and have obtained free-standing stamps – can I pass them onto someone else?

Yes. Only if you have authorised that person to affix them to product on your behalf. In this instance, you must have notified our contractor of that person’s details at the time of ordering the stamps.

6.21 Do I need to register to incorporate stamps into labels?

No. You can be authorised by a person who is registered, to incorporate duty stamps into labels on their behalf. You should note, however, that the design for the label stamp is specific to the registered person to whom our contractor has issued it. You must not incorporate that label design into labels for anyone other than the registered person who has provided it to you.

6.22 Can a Temporary Registered Consignee register?

No. A Temporary Registered Consignee cannot register for duty stamps purposes. The procedure you must follow to order free-standing stamps is set out in Notice 204A Temporary Registered Consignees.

6.23 Can a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme register?

No. A Commercial Importer using the standard scheme cannot register for duty stamp purposes. The procedure you must follow to order free-standing stamps is set out in Notice 204B Commercial Importers and Tax Representatives - EU trade in duty-paid excise goods.

However, if you are a Registered Commercial Importer you can register for the duty stamps scheme.

6.24 Will my registration have a time limit?

Your registration will remain in place indefinitely unless:

  • you write to inform us that you no longer wish to be registered
  • we remove you from the register because one of the disqualification criteria set out in paragraph 6.4 above applies
  • you are registered for the purposes of acquiring free-standing stamps and do not order free-standing stamps for a period of 36 consecutive months, or
  • you do not use your authority to incorporate stamps into labels or affix labels to bottles for a period of 36 consecutive months.

In the latter two cases, we will write to notify you that your registration will be withdrawn and provide a date when this will take effect.

6.25 Can I appeal if you refuse to register me?

No. There is no right of appeal if you do not qualify for registration. The registration criteria is set out at paragraph 6.4.

6.26 On what grounds can HMRC deregister me?

We will remove you from the register if your circumstances change so that any one of the criteria at paragraph 6.4 applies to you or, if you do not order any free-standing stamps or use your authority to incorporate stamps into labels for a period of 36 consecutive months.

You must return any unused stamps to our contractor if you are deregistered.

If you are not disqualified from registration, you may reapply for registration.

6.27 Can I appeal if I am deregistered?

No. There is no right of appeal if you are deregistered from the register.

7. Label stamps

7.1 How do I acquire the design specification for the label stamp?

Once registered, you should request the design specification for the label stamp through the secure website operated by our contractor, details of which are provided with your registration.

When ordering you will be required to provide the following information:

  • your duty stamps registration number
  • the number of copies of the design specification that you require. (a separate design is required for each printer who produces labels for you), and
  • details of where the design specification should be delivered.

Our contractor will acknowledge receipt of your order and enter the details into an electronic database to which HMRC has access. The contractor will then arrange for the issue of the design.

When the design is delivered to you, the courier will request a signature to confirm receipt of the design.

7.2 What if the delivery is not what I ordered?

You will need to notify our contractor of any discrepancies by the end of the first business day after the date of receipt of the order. The contractor will then take appropriate action to resolve the problem.

7.3 In what format will the design specification of the label stamp be sent to me?

The label stamp design specification will be delivered in the form of a CD-ROM, accompanied by printed proofs of a duty stamp for your printer to match. You should order one copy of the design specification for each of the printers you nominated on your application to register, plus a copy for yourself (as the registered person).

The artwork will be supplied in the following two formats:

  • Adobe Illustrator EPS
  • generic EPS.

These files can be opened using software that supports the EPS standard which is widely available.

Detailed instructions for printers are also included on the CD-ROM. Printers are required to follow these instructions, matching the quality of stamp reproduction demonstrated on the print proof provided.

7.4 How big is the label stamp?

The label stamp is disc shaped, with a diameter of 25mm. See annex 2 for an example of its size and appearance.

7.5 Can I pass the design on to my label printer?

Yes. Provided that you included details of that person on your application for registration and tell us about any subsequent changes to that information, as described in paragraph 6.14.

7.6 Can I pass the design you have issued to me to other traders who wish to have labels produced?

No. You can only pass the design on to businesses that are producing labels on your behalf. Similarly, you can only pass labels that incorporate stamps to people who are affixing them to bottles on your behalf.

If you pass on the design or labels incorporating stamps to anyone else, you may be liable to a penalty.

7.7 What if the person incorporating the stamps into my bottle labels is based outside the UK?

You can send the design to a printer outside the UK to incorporate stamps into labels for you as long as you have provided details of that printer on your application for registration and tell us about any subsequent changes to that information, as described in section 6.14.

7.8 Does my printer need any special accreditation in order to use the design specification?

No. The stamp has been designed in such a way that its reproduction should be within the capabilities of most label printers.

7.9 How will I know if our supplier has fulfilled the requirements of the label stamp design specification?

The registered person is responsible for ensuring their printer meets the requirements of the design specification. Instructions for your printer to follow, and a printed proof of a duty stamp, are provided with the CD-ROM. These should be sufficient to ensure your printer complies with the requirements for label stamps.

7.10 Can I send the design specification to more than one printer?

No. You must request a separate design for each printer you intend using.

7.11 Can my printer use the design specification I have provided for other traders?

No. Each design will include a serial number, which is unique to the design we send to you. This unique design should only appear on your products.

7.12 Can a Temporary Registered Consignee arrange for goods to bear label stamps?

No. As a Temporary Registered Consignee you will not be able to obtain the design for the label stamp.

However, you can receive goods where the label stamp has already been affixed by a warehousekeeper in another Member State.

7.13 Can a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme arrange for goods to bear label stamps?

No. If you are a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme you will not be able to obtain the design for the label stamp.

However, you can receive goods where the label stamp has already been affixed by a warehousekeeper in another Member State.

7.14 Do I have to keep the label stamp design and any loose labels bearing duty stamps in a secure place?

We suggest that you keep the label stamp design and any loose labels bearing the stamp secure to reduce the risk of theft and subsequent use for illicit or counterfeit goods. The registered person to whom the design specification was issued remains responsible for that design. It is therefore in their interests to ensure that the design and the stamps produced from that design are not open to theft or misuse.

7.15 What happens if labels incorporating stamps or the CD-ROM incorporating the design specification are lost or stolen?

If labels incorporating stamps, or the CD-ROM incorporating the design specification, are lost or stolen you must notify HMRC by the end of the business day following the day when the loss or theft, or the discovery of it, occurred.

You will need to tell us the unique identification number of the design specification, the number of labels involved, the brand displayed on them and the size of the bottles to which they were intended to be fixed. You will also need to tell us the date and time of the occurrence or its discovery.

To notify HMRC of lost or stolen design specifications or labels, you should email dsst@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk or fax to 0141 555 3506 with the above information. Please also provide your duty stamps registration number (if you have one), your company details and your name and contact details.

7.16 How will the design be delivered to me?

The design will be delivered by our contractor to the address specified at the time of the order using a courier service.

7.17 What if the order does not turn up – who should I contact?

You can track your order through the duty stamps ordering website, or by contacting our contractor. Contact details will be provided with your registration certificate.

7.18 What happens if I fail to meet a customer’s order due to a delay in the ordering process?

If the order is delayed and our contractor is at fault, you may be able to seek resolution and recompense for the impact of the delay on your business. You should contact our contractor if this is the case (contact details are provided with your registration certificate).

The outcome will, of course, depend on the particular circumstances which caused the delay.

8. Free-standing stamps

8.1 How do I acquire free-standing stamps?

If you are registered, you can order free-standing duty stamps through the secure website operated by our contractor, details of which will be sent to you shortly after you receive your registration certificate.

When ordering you will need to provide the following information:

  • your duty stamps registration number
  • the number of stamps of each product type required
  • the address of the premises where the stamps are to be affixed and the delivery address for the stamps
  • if the stamps are to be affixed by someone other than the registered person, that person’s name and address, and
  • if you are bringing unstamped goods into the UK and you are not holding them in an excise warehouse, the address of the premises where those goods will be held until they have stamps affixed to them.

In the event that the website cannot be used for any reason, stamps can be ordered from our contractor by telephone. Contact details will be provided to all registered businesses at registration.

Our contractor will acknowledge receipt of the order and enter the details into an electronic database to which HMRC has access. The contractor will then arrange for the distribution of the stamps.

Upon delivery of the stamps, a signature will be required to confirm receipt of the stamps. This confirmation should be returned to the contractor and not to HMRC.

8.2 I am a Temporary Registered Consignee – how do I obtain free-standing stamps?

You should obtain your free-standing stamps direct from HMRC. Full details are provided in Notice 204A Temporary Registered Consignees.

8.3 I am a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme – how do I obtain free-standing stamps?

You should obtain your free-standing stamps direct from HMRC. Full details are provided in Notice 204B Commercial Importers and Tax Representatives - EU trade in duty-paid excise goods.

However, if you are registered for duty stamps purposes as a Registered Commercial Importer you can order free-standing stamps from our contractor.

8.4 What is the maximum number of free-standing stamps I can order from your contractor at one time?

You may order as many stamps as you need, to cover a specific consignment of goods for one of your customers, or a number of consignments for different customers. However, if the number of stamps you request is significantly larger than your previous orders, we may ask you to explain the reasons why this is the case.

You may wish to allow for potential wastage when you order your free-standing stamps as some may be damaged during affixing.

8.5 How quickly will I receive the stamps that I have ordered?

Our contractor will dispatch stamps within three working days of a correctly completed order being received. Actual delivery times will vary depending on the destination of the order. Despatches within the UK will normally be delivered within five working days of the contractor receiving the order. Despatches to other Member States will normally be delivered within seven working days of the contractor receiving the order.

8.6 How will my stamps be delivered to me?

The stamps will be delivered by our contractor to the address specified at the time of the order using a courier service. Contact details are provided with your registration certificate.

8.7 What if the order does not turn up – who should I contact?

You can track your order through the duty stamps ordering website, or by contacting our contractor (details are provided with your registration certificate).

8.8 What happens if I fail to meet a customer’s order due to a delay in the ordering process?

If the order is delayed and our contractor is at fault, you may be able to seek resolution and recompense for the impact of the delay on your business. This will, of course, depend on the circumstances which caused the delay. You should contact our contractor in this case. Contact details are provided with your registration certificate.

8.9 What if the order I receive is incorrect?

You must notify our contractor of any discrepancy between the order and the delivery before the end of the business day following delivery. The contractor will then address the discrepancy. Contact details are provided with your registration certificate.

If you are a Temporary Registered Consignee or a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme, and have received your stamps direct from HMRC, you should notify HMRC of any discrepancies. See Notices 204A and 204B for further details.

8.10 Do I have to keep my free-standing stamps in a secure place?

We recommend that you store free-standing stamps in a secure place to reduce the risk of theft and subsequent use on illicit or counterfeit goods. The registered person (to whom the stamps were issued) remains responsible for them. It is therefore in their interests to ensure that the stamps are not vulnerable to theft or misuse.

8.11 Can I pass on my free-standing stamps to anyone else?

You can only pass free-standing stamps on to other businesses if they are affixing them on your behalf and provided that you gave detail of where the stamps are to be affixed, and by whom, when you ordered them. If you pass free-standing stamps to anyone else you may be liable to a civil penalty.

8.12 What if I need to make changes to my order after completing it?

You can change the details of your order provided you give our contractor sufficient notice. Contact details are provided with your registration certificate.

You can make changes to the number of stamps required, the product type for which the stamps are required, or the place to which the stamps are delivered via the contractor’s website or by phone, providing you do so within 24 hours of placing the order.

If you wish to change any of these details after 24 hours, your existing order will need to be cancelled, and a new order submitted.

8.13 What if the person affixing stamps on my behalf changes from when I ordered the stamps?

You must give our contractor full details of the change at least two clear business days before the stamps are affixed. Again, you can do this using the contractor’s website or by phone (details will be provided with your registration certificate).

8.14 What if the place where the stamps will be affixed changes from when I ordered the stamps?

You must give our contractor full details of the change at least two clear business days before the stamps are affixed. You can do this using the contractor’s website or by phone (details will be provided with your registration certificate).

8.15 What if the place where I am holding unstamped goods changes from the place I specified when I placed my order?

If you are a business, such as a Registered Consignee or a business that imports goods from third countries, permitted to hold unstamped goods in premises which are not an excise warehouse, and you wish to move those unstamped goods to premises other than those specified at the time of ordering stamps, you must tell our contractor by the end of the business day after the day on which you moved the goods. You can notify the contractor using their website or by phone (details will be provided with your registration certificate).

8.16 What happens if free-standing stamps are lost, stolen or destroyed?

If stamps that have been issued to you by our contractor are lost, stolen or destroyed you must notify HMRC by the end of the business day following the day when the loss, theft or damage, or the discovery of it, occurred.

You will need to tell us the number of stamps involved, the unique reference numbers of the stamps (or the start and end numbers of the range of stamps), the product type shown on them, and the date and time of the occurrence or its discovery.

To notify us, you should email us at dsst@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk or by fax on 0141 555 3506 with the above information. Please also provide your duty stamps registration number (if you have one), your company details and your name and contact details.

If you have received your free-standing stamps from HMRC and they are lost, stolen or destroyed you should notify the team who sent the stamps to you. Further details are contained in Notice 204A Temporary Registered Consignees and Notice 204B Commercial Importers and Tax Representatives - EU trade in duty-paid excise goods.

8.17 In what form will the stamps be provided to me?

Stamps will be presented on reels as described on our contractor’s website.

9. Affixing duty stamps

9.1 When must duty stamps be affixed?

Subject to certain exceptions below, all relevant products must bear a duty stamp at the time they pass a UK duty point. You are therefore free to apply stamps at any point between bottling and removal to home use on payment of duty. In practice, this will have different implications for different types of business.

The only exceptions to this are:

  • Importers (including Registered Consignees and Temporary Registered Consignees) of unstamped product who are not authorised to hold goods in duty-suspension, have a further 14 days after importation to affix the stamps, subject to conditions laid out later in this section.
  • Commercial Importers (including Registered Commercial Importers) of duty-paid goods have a further 14 days after importation to affix the stamps, subject to conditions laid out later in this section.
  • Compounders and other businesses which bottle or re-bottle duty-paid spirits must affix stamps to bottles before they leave the premises where the bottling takes place.

Goods that are being imported under distance selling arrangements must have the stamps affixed before the goods are imported into the UK. Further details are contained in section 10.

9.2 What about products bottled overseas?

Both free-standing stamps and the label stamp design will be made available to registered traders based overseas, either directly or via a duty stamps representative, should they choose to appoint one. Therefore the overseas trader will have the choice of:

  • acquiring free-standing stamps and either affixing them before importation into the UK
  • importing the goods into an excise warehouse in the UK in duty-suspension and arranging for stamps to be affixed before they are released onto the UK market, or
  • despatching the goods to a Registered Consignee, a Temporary Registered Consignee or, in the case of goods from outside the EC to an importer, and having stamps affixed after the duty point, or
  • despatching duty-paid goods to a Commercial Importer (including a Registered Commercial Importer) and having the duty stamps affixed after the duty point.

Overseas traders able to receive duty stamps may apply for type B stamps, which has the stamp incorporated in the label, and affix these to bottles before they are despatched.

9.3 Do free-standing stamps have to be affixed in a tax warehouse?

No. However, in most cases, this procedure will take place in a tax warehouse, at the address notified by the registered person when the stamps were ordered. If stamps are being affixed in premises outside of the EU those premises must be occupied by, or under the control of, a person who carries on a trade or business that consists of or includes distilling, manufacturing, or bottling relevant product. These premises must also be notified at the time of ordering the stamps.

If you are a Registered Consignee or a Registered Commercial Importer, the stamps must be affixed at the UK premises specified when you ordered the stamps from our contractor. If you are a Temporary Registered Consignee or a Commercial Importer, using the standard scheme, the stamps must be affixed at the UK premises specified when you ordered the stamps from HMRC.

If you are an authorised warehousekeeper importing products from a third country to somewhere other than your authorised warehouse, or if you bottle duty-paid product in the UK, the stamps must be affixed at the premises specified to our contractor at the time you order the stamps. If you are an authorised warehousekeeper receiving unstamped goods into your UK excise warehouse, then you should affix stamps before releasing the goods to home use.

If you are a compounder, you can affix duty stamps in the premises which you have made entry of under the Spirits (Rectifying, Compounding and Drawback) Regulations 1988.

9.4 Can I affix free-standing stamps anywhere on the bottle?

The stamp must be located in a prominent and visible position on the bottle, such as the front of the neck, the shoulder, or main body of the bottle. To ensure it is affixed securely to the bottle, it cannot be affixed on or overlapping an existing bottle label. Additionally, it must not be affixed to the base of the bottle or the stopper, cork, cap or other closure.

9.5 How big is the free-standing stamp?

The free-standing stamp is disc shaped; with a diameter of 25mm. See annex 2 for an example of its size and appearance.

9.6 If I am using label stamps for my product, can I incorporate the stamp anywhere within my product label?

You can incorporate the stamp anywhere in the label but the label itself must be visible if the container is removed from any outer packaging and turned through 180 degrees on a vertical axis.

9.7 If I sell my product in a presentation box or tube, is it sufficient to affix a stamp to the packaging, rather than the bottle?

No. The duty stamp must be affixed to the bottle rather than the outer packaging.

9.8 What sort of adhesive should I use to affix stamps?

The free-standing format of the stamp has a self-adhesive backing, approved for use on food and drink products. We do not specify the type of adhesive you should use to affix labels incorporating the label stamp. The only requirement is that a duty stamp must be affixed in such a way that it cannot be removed without it being obviously damaged.

9.9 Under what circumstances can I pass on free-standing duty stamps to someone else for affixing to bottles?

If you are registered to obtain free-standing stamps you are authorised to affix them to bottles. You may also pass the stamps to someone else for affixing on your behalf provided that, at the time of ordering the stamps, you notify our contractor of the name and address of the person that you will pass the stamps to for affixing. There is no requirement for the person physically affixing the stamps on your behalf to be registered, but in some circumstances, they may already be registered in their own right.

9.10 Can I pass on the label stamp design specification to be incorporated into a label by someone else?

You may only pass the design specification onto those businesses that you have specified, on your duty stamps registration form, will incorporate stamps into labels on your behalf. Your registration for the purposes of acquiring the label stamp design specification also authorises you to affix labels incorporating duty stamps onto bottles.

While you must advise us of the details of those you employ to incorporate the stamp into the label when you register, there is no requirement for you to advise us of anyone you employ to affix the labels incorporating the duty stamps to bottles on your behalf.

9.11 How will a Registered Consignee (excluding a Temporary Registered Consignee) or a Registered Commercial Importer affix stamps?

As a Registered Consignee (excluding a Temporary Registered Consignee) or a Registered Commercial Importer you have a number of options:

  • you can receive goods that already have a free-standing or label stamp affixed by a registered supplier in another Member State
  • you can register for duty stamps purposes and acquire the label stamp design or free-standing stamps and send either the stamps or labels incorporating stamps overseas for application to product prior to importation. You can also acquire the label stamp design and send it to your overseas supplier to incorporate into bottle labels prior to importation, or
  • you can affix duty stamps in the UK up to 14 days after importation. In order to do this, you must advise our contractor when you order the stamps about who will be affixing the stamps and where, and where the unstamped goods will be held until the stamps are applied.
  • A Registered Consignee can also arrange for stamps to be sent direct to their customers direct delivery address. However, in this case, the Registered Consignee is responsible for ensuring that the goods are stamped, even when the goods are directly delivered to another UK business address.
  • Commercial Importers may also arrange for stamps to be affixed at the delivery address notified on their form HM4 Request to import excise goods bought duty-paid in another EU Member State.

9.12 What happens if I, a Registered Consignee or Registered Commercial Importer order stamps for consignments which arrive already bearing a stamp?

If you have acquired the stamps to affix yourself you can either retain them for use on a future importation, or return them to our contractor.

If you have supplied them to a customer for affixing, the customer should return them to you. Again, you can either retain them for use on a future importation or return them to the contractor.

9.13 How will a Temporary Registered Consignee or a Commercial Importer using the standard scheme affix stamps?

As a Temporary Registered Consignee or Commercial Importer using the standard scheme you can:

    • receive goods that already have a label or free-standing stamp affixed by a supplier in another Member State who is registered for duty stamp purposes, or

    • obtain free-standing stamps direct from HMRC and affix the stamps in the UK up to 14 days after the date of importation. To do this, when you order the stamps, you must provide details on who will be affixing the stamps, and where, and where the unstamped goods will be held.

You can find full details of the procedures for Temporary Registered Consignees in Notice 204A and for Commercial Importers in Notice 204B.

9.14 What should I do if I affix the wrong stamps or labels to bottles?

Affixing incorrect stamps to bottles is a breach of the Regulations and may result in the issue of a civil penalty and/or render the bottles liable to forfeiture. However, provided you take the following steps, we will not issue a penalty.

1. If the goods are still under duty-suspended arrangements, you must ensure that any goods that have had incorrect stamps affixed are not removed to home use.

2. You must record the following details in your business records as soon as you discover that an error has occurred:

i. the date on which the incorrect stamps were affixed

ii. the number of stamps which were affixed incorrectly

      iii. in the case of free-standing stamps, the serial numbers of the incorrectly affixed stamps, and

      iv. the trademark or brand name on incorrectly affixed labels incorporating a duty stamp.

3. You must notify HMRC, before the end of the business day after the day on which you discovered the error, and provide the information noted in your records at 2 above. You should send your notification, by email to dsst@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk or by fax to 0141 555 3506.

4. You must remove or obliterate the incorrect duty stamps (as described in paragraph 15.5) and affix a correct duty stamp to the goods. Alternatively, you may destroy the bottles.

5. In the case of goods to which incorrect stamps were affixed after the duty point, such as those received by a Registered Consignee, the action described in 4 above must be completed within seven days of the error being discovered.

9.15 What happens if I am left with free-standing stamps which I no longer need?

If you are registered to receive duty stamps and are left with free-standing stamps you no longer need, you can retain these stamps for future use providing you keep the necessary records (see section 11). Alternatively you can contact our contractor who will arrange for the stamps to be collected by courier (contact details for our contractor will be provided with your registration certificate).

If you are acting on behalf of a registered person, you must return unused stamps to that person.

9.16 What should I do with my free-standing stamps, or labels incorporating stamps if I am disqualified from registration?

If you are in possession of free-standing stamps and are disqualified from registration, you must return the stamps to our contractor without delay. To arrange for the stamps to be collected, please contact our contractor (details will be provided with your registration certificate).

If you are in possession of unused labels incorporating stamps, you are no longer authorised to affix these to bottles, nor can you authorise anyone else to affix them on your behalf. All unused labels must be destroyed.

9.17 Do I have to return the CD-ROM and label stamp design specification to the contractor if I am disqualified from registration?

Yes. If you are disqualified from registration you should return the CD-ROM containing the design specification to our contractor without delay. To arrange for collection, please call our contractor using the details provided when you registered.

9.18 Can I use a label stamp without incorporating it into a label?

No. The label stamp has to be incorporated into a bottle label, which also includes, in an easily legible form, a brand under which it is intended that the alcoholic liquor will be sold by retail or which shows the trademark of the product contained in the bottle, details of the producer or details of the business marketing the product.

If you wish to use stamps that are separate from any other labelling on the bottle, you must use the free-standing stamp.

9.19 Can I, as a retailer, affix stamps to goods I hold in my retail premises?

You cannot affix duty stamps to duty-paid goods on retail premises except in certain limited circumstances described at paragraphs 9.1 and 9.3.

9.20 How do I check that duty stamps on goods I purchase are genuine?

Under a UV light, such as a device you might use to check currency, the central section of every duty stamp should glow yellow. Additionally, you will become familiar with the visual features of the duty stamp through HMRC literature, and comparison with other stamps on the market.

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

10 Distance selling and gifts

10.1 What is distance selling?

Distance selling is the sale of excise goods by a vendor in one Member State to a private individual in another Member State. For example, when a private individual purchases goods from abroad over the Internet.

10.2 How do I affix duty stamps if I purchase goods under a distance selling arrangement?

When goods are imported under a distance selling arrangement, the stamps must be applied before the goods arrive in the UK. The responsibility for ensuring the stamps are affixed before the goods are imported lies with the overseas vendor.

10.3 I am a UK Tax Representative for a distance selling arrangement – can I register for duty stamps purposes?

Yes. If you have been appointed by an overseas vendor to act as a UK Tax Representative in a distance selling arrangement, you can register for duty stamp purposes. However, this is only so you can obtain the duty stamps on behalf of the overseas vendor who must ensure that the stamps are affixed before the goods are imported into the UK.

10.4 What if I receive a gift from a person in another Member State?

If you receive a gift from a person in another Member State via courier or post, your goods should arrive with the stamps already affixed.

It is the responsibility of the person sending the gift to ensure that the stamps are affixed before importation into the UK.

10.5 What if I want to import goods from a country outside of the EU?

If you order goods from a country outside of the EU, they will normally arrive in the UK by post or courier. In these circumstances, the overseas vendor of the goods must ensure that UK duty stamps are applied before the goods are imported.

The UK duty is payable by the importer of the goods. The courier delivering the goods requires the person to whom the goods are being sent to complete a form and provide payment of the excise duty due before the goods are delivered. The courier pays this money to HMRC and delivers the goods.

11. Record keeping

11.1 Who is required to keep records for duty stamps purposes?

Anyone who holds or moves duty stamped product in duty suspense is required to identify in their ordinary business records that those goods are stamped. This applies to everyone in spirits supply chains, regardless of the type of stamp used, or where the goods are moved before they have reached an excise duty point.

Additional records are required if you are affixing duty stamps to retail containers, either as a registered person or on behalf of a registered person. The full requirements are set out below.

11.2 What records do I need to keep as a registered person who acquires and affixes free-standing stamps?

If you acquire and affix free-standing stamps you will be required to maintain the following records:

  • Detail of stamps received, including the date of receipt, the number of stamps received, the range of unique reference numbers, and the product type shown on the stamps. This information is included on your invoice from HMRC’s contractor.
  • The number of stamps you affix each day, and the unique reference numbers (or range of numbers) and product type(s) shown of those stamps for example, 2,000 Whisky/Whiskey stamps, reference numbers in the range W10000000001 to W10000002000, affixed on date 02/05/2006.
  • Detail of all premises in which you affix stamps, if you affix stamps in more than one set of premises.
  • The number of stamps you hold that have yet to be affixed to retail containers, including the unique reference numbers (or range of numbers) and product type(s) shown on those stamps. Also, if you hold stamps in more than one set of premises, details of all premises in which you hold stamps.
  • Detail of stamped retail containers of alcoholic liquor that you hold to which you have affixed the stamps, showing the number of retail containers, the unique reference numbers (or range of numbers) of the stamps, and any brand or brands displayed on any labels affixed to the stamped containers.
  • Detail of consignments of stamped goods which are removed from the excise warehouse in which the stamps were affixed, including the number of stamped containers in the consignment, the range of unique reference numbers in which the stamps fall, and any brand or brands displayed on any label affixed to the retail containers. Where consignments are broken up and despatched, it is sufficient to identify in your records that the goods bear stamp unique reference numbers within the range affixed to the original consignment.
  • If you return stamps to HMRC’s contractor, you should record the number of stamps returned, their unique reference numbers (or range of numbers) and the product types shown on them.
  • Detail of stamps that are lost, stolen, destroyed, or damaged, including stamped retail containers of alcoholic liquor which are destroyed or damaged before the excise duty point showing the number of stamps, the unique reference numbers of those stamps (or range of numbers), and the product type shown on those stamps. If it is impracticable to record the unique reference numbers of destroyed or damaged stamps, for instance if recovering them would present a health and safety risk, your records must show instead the reason why it is impracticable and any information which may help identify the destroyed or damaged stamps. You must also notify HMRC of any stamps that are lost, stolen or destroyed before they are affixed to bottles as described at paragraph 8.16.).
  • A daily record of duty stamps which are removed, obliterated or obscured, showing the quantity of stamps, the unique reference numbers of the stamps (or range of numbers), the brands to which the stamps were affixed and whether the product had passed a duty point. In addition, you must also notify HMRC before you remove, obliterate or obscure stamps as described in paragraph 15.5.

11.3 What records do I need to keep if I affix free-standing stamps for a registered person but am not registered myself?

You are required to keep the same records as a registered person, as shown in paragraph 11.2.

So that the registered person, or the person you despatch stamped goods to, can meet their record keeping requirements, they may require you to provide them with additional information relating to the range of unique reference numbers on the consignment of stamped goods, as described in paragraph 11.4, or some means to identify that the goods in question are stamped as described in paragraph 11.9.

11.4 What records must I keep as a registered person who acquires free-standing stamps but has them affixed by someone else?

If you pass stamps to another person for that person to affix to retail containers on your behalf you must keep the following records:

  • The number of stamps you have passed on for affixing.
  • The unique reference numbers (or range of numbers) and the product type shown on the stamps.
  • The name and address of the person to whom you have passed them.
  • Details of stamps received from our contractor, including the date of receipt, the number of stamps received, the unique reference numbers (or range of numbers) shown on the stamps, and the product type shown on the stamps. This information is included on your invoice from our contractor.
  • The number of stamps you hold that have yet to be affixed to retail containers. This should include the unique reference numbers of the stamps and the product types shown on them.
  • If you return stamps to our contractor you should record the number of stamps returned, their unique reference numbers and the product types shown on them.
  • Details of stamped retail containers of alcoholic liquor that you hold to which stamps have been affixed on your behalf, showing the number of retail containers, the unique reference numbers (or range of numbers) of the stamps in each consignment, and any brand or brands displayed on any labels affixed to the stamped containers.

If you have had stamps affixed to a consignment of goods on your behalf, but receive those goods from the affixer in a series of deliveries, it will be sufficient for your records to show the unique reference numbers of the stamps affixed to the total consignment, and the number of stamped bottles received in each delivery which fall within that range of unique reference numbers.

For example, if you were to receive 1,500 stamped bottles from your affixer from an original consignment of 2,000 bottles (numerical range W10000000001 to W10000002000); it would be sufficient for your records to show that you had received 1,500 bottles with stamps somewhere in the numerical range W10000000001 to W10000002000.

11.5 Am I required to show in my records, the unique reference numbers of the stamps I have affixed on each bottle in a case?

For a consignment of goods you hold in, or remove from, your warehouse after affixing stamps, it is sufficient to record the number of retail containers in the consignment and the range of unique reference numbers in which the stamps fall, rather than the actual numbers.

For example, if you were to affix stamps (numerical range W10000000001 to W10000002000) to a consignment of 2,000 bottles and subsequently despatched 1,500 of those bottles to a customer, it would be sufficient for your records to show that you had removed 1,500 bottles from your warehouse with stamps somewhere in the numerical range W10000000001 to W10000002000, and that 500 bottles remain in your warehouse with stamps in the same range.

11.6 Do my day-to-day records for free-standing stamps have to show the whole of the unique reference number?

If recording the whole unique reference number in your day-to-day affixing and movements records is problematic, it is sufficient for you to record the last ten sequential numbers of the sequence for example, 0000000001 to 0000002000, rather than W10000000001 to W10000002000, providing the stamp product type and first number of the stamp unique reference number (W1 of W10000000001) is easily identifiable elsewhere in your records. For example, in your records of stamps received or held.

The whole stamp unique reference number will be required if you are returning unused stamps, or reporting lost, stolen or destroyed stamps to us, and may be required by the person you are despatching stamped goods to, so that they can keep proper records as described in paragraph 11.4.

11.7 What records am I required to keep if I use label stamps?

If you use or are in possession of label stamps, the only records you are required to keep for duty stamps are:

  • Details of the label stamp design specification received from our contractor, including the date of receipt and the unique reference number on the specification. This information is included on your invoice from our contractor.
  • If you remove or obliterate label stamps, the number of stamped containers affected, the brand of the goods concerned, the date when the label stamps were removed or obliterated, and whether there has been an excise duty point for the products concerned.
  • For labels incorporating a stamp which are lost or stolen, the quantity lost or stolen, the unique reference number on those labels, the brand shown on the labels, and the details of the occurrence.
  • If the label stamps design specification (CD-ROM and so on) is lost or stolen, the unique reference number on that specification, and the circumstances and details of the occurrence. You must also notify HMRC as described in section 7.

11.8 Do I need to complete details on the eAD?

You do not need to fill in details on the eAD for an intra-EU movement. However, if you are completing an eAD for an intra-UK movement of duty stamped product, you should include a statement in the fiscal mark field to confirm that the goods are stamped.

You may also choose to indicate the duty stamp status on sales invoices or other documentation that accompanies a movement although there is no legal requirement to do so.

11.9 Do cases containing goods that bear a duty stamp have to be marked to show that they are stamped?

Although there is no legal requirement to do so, you may choose to mark cases or pallets in some way to help distinguish between stamped and unstamped stock.

However, you must be able to identify stamped goods within your ordinary business records.

12. Removals from warehouse of stamped goods

12.1 Can I remove duty stamped goods from a warehouse in duty-suspension?

Yes. You can remove duty stamped goods, in duty-suspension, from one UK excise warehouse to another, provided they are approved under section 92 of CEMA or section 15 of ALDA.

12.2 In what circumstances can I remove unstamped product from a warehouse?

You can remove unstamped product from a UK excise warehouse approved under section 92 of CEMA or section 15 of ALDA for any of the following purposes:

  • for deposit in another UK excise warehouse approved under section 92 of CEMA or section 15 of ALDA under duty-suspended arrangements
  • for exportation, either to another EU Member State, or a country outside of the EU
  • for duty relieved use, for example, ships’ stores, diplomatic privilege or visiting forces, or
  • for use by export shops or registered mobile operators.

12.3 Do the same arrangements apply to removals from premises registered under the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979?

Yes. If you remove relevant products from premises registered under the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979, they must bear a duty stamp unless they are being removed for one of the uses specified in paragraph 12.2.

13. Duty stamps and the Isle of Man (IOM)

13.1 What are the duty stamp requirements in the Isle of Man (IOM)?

The IOM has equivalent legislation to the UK on duty stamps for spirits and wine or made-wine.

13.2 Should goods released to home use in the IOM bear a duty stamp?

Goods which are removed to home use in the IOM must bear a duty stamp which complies with IOM legislation.

If you are sending UK duty-paid goods to the IOM, they should already bear a UK duty stamp. There is no need to remove the stamp in these circumstances.

13.3 Should goods consigned from the IOM to the UK bear a duty stamp?

Goods consigned from the IOM to the UK, in duty-suspension, must bear either a UK or IOM duty stamp when they are removed to home use in the UK.

Goods consigned to the UK which are duty-paid in the IOM should bear a duty stamp which complies with IOM legislation.

14. Offences and penalties

14.1 What is the penalty for removing goods to home use which do not bear a duty stamp?

If you allow goods to be removed from your excise warehouse to home use without a duty stamp you may be liable to a civil penalty of £250 for each bottle which is unstamped and the goods are liable to forfeiture.

14.2 What happens if I affix incorrect stamps?

If you discover that you have affixed incorrect stamps you must take the action described in paragraph 9.14 of this notice. If you do not, you may be liable to a civil penalty of £250 for each stamp you have incorrectly affixed and the goods are liable to forfeiture.

14.3 Is it an offence to sell unstamped spirits?

Yes. Unless you can demonstrate that the goods are not required to bear a duty stamp. All relevant goods that passed a duty point on or after 1 October 2006 should bear a duty stamp.

If you commit the offence of holding, transporting, displaying or selling unstamped bottles of spirits, you will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of up to £5,000. In addition, any goods, in relation to which you have committed this offence, are liable to forfeiture. If you are convicted of an offence we will also remove you from the duty stamps register.

14.4 What does summary conviction mean?

A summary conviction is a conviction resulting from an offence heard in a Magistrates’ Court in England, Ireland or Wales, or by a District Court or Sheriff Court sitting without a jury in Scotland.

14.5 Can I alter or overprint duty stamps?

No. If you alter or overprint duty stamps other than as directed by the law, you will be liable to a civil penalty of £250 for each stamp you alter or overprint. In addition, any bottles to which altered or overprinted stamps are affixed are liable to forfeiture.

14.6 Will I be committing an offence if I allow my premises to be used for the sale of unstamped spirits?

Yes, you will be committing a criminal offence if unstamped spirits are sold on premises that you manage.

In this context you are a manager of premises if you are:

  • entitled to control their use
  • entrusted with their management, or
  • in charge of them.

This means that a person who merely lets premises on a commercial basis and does not exercise day-to-day control over the sale of excise goods will not be guilty of an offence.

If convicted of an offence, you will be liable to a fine of up to £5,000. The court may also prohibit the sale of alcohol from your premises for a period of up to six months.

14.7 Can I appeal against a civil penalty?

Yes. If we impose a civil penalty we will tell you and offer you a review. We will explain the decision and tell you what you need to do if you disagree. You will usually have three options. Within 30 days you can:

    • send new information or arguments to the officer you have been dealing with, or

    • have your case reviewed by a different officer, or

    • have your case heard by an independent Tribunal.

    The review will be handled by a different officer from the one who made the decision. However, if you prefer to have an independent Tribunal hear your case, you must write directly to the Tribunals service.

14.8 Where can I get more information about the appeals process?

More information on reviews and appeals is available in factsheet HMRC1 HMRC decisions – what to do if you disagree or you can phone the HM Revenue & Customs Orderline on 0845 900 0404.

You can also view our Internet guide Appeals against HM Revenue & Customs decisions.

You can find information on the tribunal on the Tribunals Service website or by phoning them on 0845 223 8080.

14.9 What if I still hold unstamped product in my retail premises?

In these circumstances, you must be able to demonstrate that the duty was paid on those goods before 1 October 2006, and there is no requirement for a duty stamp to be affixed.

For example, you should retain any purchase documentation or invoices which show that the goods were duty-paid before this date. We may also take other factors into consideration, such as the age and type of the product concerned.

14.10 Is it an offence to refill bottles that bear a duty stamp after the original contents have been consumed?

You cannot refill stamped containers with spirits unless:

  • you are refilling a container, provided by someone to whom you are supplying spirits, with duty-paid spirits (in this instance you must affix a new stamp each time the container is refilled), or
  • you are a private individual and are refilling a stamped container with spirits from either another stamped container or a container that is not required to be stamped.

If you refill stamped containers in any other circumstances, the goods will be liable to forfeiture and you may be liable to a civil penalty.

15. Exportation of duty stamped goods

15.1 Can I export stamped goods?

You may not remove stamped goods from an excise warehouse or winery, in duty-suspension, for export to another Member State or a country outside of the EU unless the duty stamp has been voided as described in paragraph 15.5. In the event that it is not, the goods will be liable to forfeiture and the exporter will be liable to a civil penalty, potentially for each bottle. In effect, the export of stamped product is prohibited.

15.2 Do I have to give notice to HMRC if I intend to export goods which have had the duty stamps removed?

Yes. You must notify us that you intend to export goods that have had duty stamps removed, at least two clear business days before the goods are exported. This notification can run concurrently with, or separately to, the notification requirements for the purposes of claiming drawback. You should send your notification by email to DSST or by fax to 0141 555 3506.

15.3 Can I claim drawback on duty stamped goods?

You cannot claim drawback on goods that bear a duty stamp. In order to claim drawback you must ensure that the stamp is removed (unless you are a Registered Mobile Operator).

You must also comply with the requirements in the Excise Goods (Drawback) Regulations 1995. See Notice 207 Excise duty: Drawback for more details.

15.4 Can I export duty-paid goods?

Yes. But the duty stamps must first be removed, unless you are exporting the goods for your personal consumption.

15.5 How do I go about voiding a duty stamp?

There are a number of ways to void a duty stamp. These are as follows:

  • Removal
    In the case of a free-standing stamp, the entire stamp can be removed from the bottle. In the case of a label stamp, the part of the label incorporating the stamp can be removed.
  • Obliteration
    In order to obliterate a free-standing or label stamp, the element of the stamp containing the words 'For the UK market' must be removed from the bottle. The remaining portion of the stamp does not need to be removed or covered up in anyway.
    Alternatively, a free-standing stamp can be completely covered by a sticker or label that is affixed in such a way that it cannot be removed without destroying the stamp itself. It is also acceptable to 'black out' the stamp using an indelible ink or dye, provided that the ink or dye could not be removed without also removing the ink from the stamp, and therefore destroying it.
    In the case of a label stamp, either the part of the label incorporating the stamp, or the entire label must be completely covered by a sticker or label that is affixed in such a way that it cannot be removed without destroying the part of the label incorporating the stamp. It is also acceptable to 'black out' the part of the label incorporating the stamp using an indelible ink or dye, provided that the ink or dye could not be removed without also removing the ink from the stamp, and therefore destroying it.
  • Destruction
    If the goods are to be destroyed or recycled before drawback is claimed, destruction (that is, breaking) of the bottle with the stamp is sufficient to obliterate the stamp.

15.6 Do I need to give HMRC notice if I intend to remove or obliterate duty stamps?

Yes. You must give HMRC at least two clear business days’ notice of when and where you intend to remove or obliterate stamps. You should send your notification, by email to DSST or by fax to 0141 555 3506.

This gives our officers the opportunity to attend in order to verify that stamps are being properly removed from bottles. Our attendance will not disrupt or hold up your operations unless we find a problem with the procedure.

If you remove or obliterate stamps on a frequent basis, there may be scope for you to agree a ‘standing notification’ arrangement with your local officer, providing that you can be specific about the date and times that you will be carrying out the procedure. For example, if you obliterate stamps at the same time on a daily basis, or on the same day and the same time on a weekly basis.

15.7 Do I have to give notice to HMRC if I intend to export goods where the duty stamps have been removed or obliterated?

Yes. You must give HMRC at least two clear business days’ notice of when and where you intend to export the goods. You should send your notification by email to DSST or by fax to 0141 555 3506. This gives our officers the opportunity to attend before the goods are exported to ensure that they do not bear duty stamps. We will not attend in all cases but we may attend without giving you prior notice. Our attendance will not disrupt or hold up your operations unless we find a problem with the procedure.

16. How we use your information

HM Revenue & Customs is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold information for the purposes specified in our notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.

We may get information about you from others, or we may give information to them. If we do, it will only be as the law permits to:

  • check the accuracy of information
  • prevent or detect crime
  • protect public funds.

We may check information we receive about you with what is already in our records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. We will not give information to anyone outside HM Revenue & Customs unless the law permits us to do so. For more information go to www.hmrc.gov.uk and look for Data Protection Act within the Search facility.

Annex 1 Am I eligible for registration?

Registration is also subject to certain other criteria being met. See section 6 for details.

List of relevant offences and penalties for the purposes of paragraph 6.4 of this notice.

A relevant offence is:

  • the common law offence of cheating the public revenue
  • an offence under any of the following provisions—
  • sections 1(1) and 5(1) of the Firearms Act 1968
  • section 1(1) of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 (but only if the goods to which the false trade description was applied were, or included, dutiable alcoholic liquor)
  • sections 1(1), 8(1), 9(1), 10(1), 11(1), 15(1), 15A(1), 16(1), 17(1), 19(1), 20(1) and (2), 21(1), 22(1) and 24A(1) of the Theft Act 1968
  • sections 4(2) and (3), 5(2) and (3), 8 and 20 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
  • sections 68(2), 100(3), 129(3), 136(1), 167(1), 168(1), 169(1), 170(1) and (2), and 170B of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979
  • section 17(1) of, and paragraphs 5(1) and 6(1) of Schedule 2A to, the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979
  • section 13(3) and (4) of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979
  • sections 8G(4) and 8H(1) of the Tobacco Products Duty Act 1979
  • except for sections 18 and 19, any section of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981
  • section 19(2) of the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990
  • section 72(1), (3), (8), (10) and (11) of the Value Added Tax Act 1994
  • section 92(1), (2) and (3) of the Trade Marks Act 1994
  • sections 327(1), 328(1) and 329(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002; section 144 of the Licensing Act 2003, and
  • conspiracy to commit any of the above offences.

Annex 2 Monochrome images of the two types of duty stamp

Free-standing stamp

Image of Freestanding stamp

Freestanding stamp (actual size)

Actual size

Label stamp

Image of Label Stamp

Label Stamp (actual size)

Actual size

Glossary of terms

Term


Description


Authorised warehousekeeper:


An approved and registered occupier of an excise warehouse, in accordance with Regulation 3 of Warehousekeepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations 1999.


Business day:


Has the meaning given in Section 92 of the Bills of Exchange Act 1882.


Compounder:


A business licenced by HMRC to combine or mix plain spirits or previously compounded spirits with any other substance, excluding water, so as to distinctly alter the character or flavour of the original spirits or compounded spirits.


Commercial Importer:


A trader who imports excise goods that have already been released for consumption (also known as ‘duty-paid’ goods) in another Member State. With the standard scheme, a Commercial Importer must secure the duty before the goods are imported. A Registered Commercial Importer is approved by HMRC to account for the duty using duty deferment arrangements.


Contractor:


The company appointed by HMRC to produce and distribute free-standing stamps and the design specification of label stamps.


Distance selling:


Is the sale of excise goods by a vendor in one Member State to a private individual in another Member State.


Duty stamps representative:


Is appointed to acquire free-standing stamps or the design for the label stamp or to produce or affix stamps on behalf of an overseas business.


Excise duty point:


The time when duty becomes payable, whether or not the actual payment is deferred.


Excise warehouse:


A place of security approved by HMRC for the storage of goods without payment of excise duty.


External territory:


a place in a Member State to which Council Directive 2008/118//EC does not apply, an EEA State, or a territory for whose external relations the United Kingdom, or another Member State is responsible.


Member State:


A country which is a member of the EU.


Other product:


a product which is required to bear a duty stamp but which does not fall within the definitions contained in Council Regulation (EEC) 1576/89 of whisky/whiskey, gin, vodka, rum or brandy for example, absinth, tequila.


Overseas business:


Any business which is based outside the UK.


Principal:


For the purposes of this notice, an overseas business which appoints a duty stamps representative in the UK.


Registered Consignee:


A trader who is authorised by HMRC to receive duty-suspended excise goods from other Member States and account for duty on them.


Registered Commercial Importer:


A trader who is authorised to receive duty-paid goods from other Member States and account for the duty using duty deferment arrangements.


Registered owner of goods held in warehouse:


A person who has been authorised and registered by HMRC to deposit duty-suspended goods they own in an excise warehouse.


Relevant product:


A product that is required to bear a duty stamp. This is all bottles and other retail containers of spirits and wine, or made-wine with a strength of 30% alcohol by volume or more, of a capacity of 35cl or more.


Tax Representative:


A person who is authorised by HMRC to account for the excise duty under a distance selling arrangement on behalf of a vendor in another Member State.


Temporary Registered Consignee:


A trader who is authorised by HMRC to receive duty-suspended excise goods from another Member State on a consignment-by-consignment basis.


Type A stamp:


A product specific stamp which is to be applied directly to the product, referred to in this notice as a free-standing stamp.


Type B stamp:


A stamp incorporated into bottle labels and printed by the industry’s own label printers, referred to in this notice as a label stamp.


If you have a question about VAT, Excise or Customs duty

Go to www.hmrc.gov.uk

Phone 0300 200 3700 Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 8.00 pm.

Os hoffech siarad â rhywun yn Gymraeg, ffoniwch 0845 010 0300,
Llun i Gwener 8.00 am i 6.00 pm.

If you are hard of hearing or speech impaired and use a Textphone,
phone 0845 000 0200.

Putting things right

If you are not satisfied with our service, please let the person dealing with your affairs know what is wrong. We will work as quickly as possible to put things right and settle your complaint. If you are still unhappy, ask for your complaint to be referred to the Complaints Manager.

For more information about our complaints procedures go to www.hmrc.gov.uk and under ‘quick links’ select ‘Complaints’.

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$START-DATA$ title=UK Duty Stamps Scheme^ summary=This Notice explains the requirements and registration process for the UK Duty Stamps Scheme.^ doctype=PublicNotice^ date=23-Jan-2014^ author=TP3679772^ $END-DATA$
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