Registration for alcohol wholesalers has taken another step forward with a consultation on proposals to tackle the illicit trade.

The consultation covers potential policy and enforcement changes HMRC intends to make to increase its impact on alcohol fraud including the introduction of a scheme to register alcohol wholesalers and  new obligations on registered excise traders to undertake effective due diligence on their supply chains.

HMRC estimates that up to 10% of beer and 5% of spirits are currently distributed by criminals, costing taxpayers £1.2bn annually as well as damaging legitimate wholesalers.

Federation of Wholesale Distributors chief executive James Bielby said the consultation is an opportunity to create a “robust registration scheme which sets the bar high and prevents duty-evaders from infiltrating the supply chain”.

“We are delighted our proposal has been taken forward, and we are working with HMRC to ensure that the new regime will do the job it is intended to do,” he said. “Although it will place an administrative burden on members, it is one they are prepared to bear if it means that no one is able to purchase and sell duty-avoided stock. It is absolutely vital that the scheme does not legitimise operators who are currently trading illegally, and we will be pushing for strict criteria which ensure that only law-abiding wholesalers are approved for registration.”

The consultation is open until October 28 and submissions can be made here.