What Is A WOWGR?
One of the questions that we get asked the most in terms of cask investment is: what is a WOWGR and do I need one in order to buy a cask?
The short answer is, yes, if you are a revenue trader. No, if you are a private individual.
In this blog I will explain the logistics of WOWGRs and why you do not need one to own a cask privately.
Firstly, the term ‘a WOWGR’ does not really make sense. This is because a WOWGR is not something that you obtain. WOWGR stands for Warehousekeepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations. As such, the WOWGR is a register that revenue traders must be accepted onto. When you are accepted onto the register you receive a certificate. Therefore, the question you should be asking is, technically, do I need to be accepted onto the WOWGR register in order to buy a cask?
If you are a private individual who is buying a cask, then the way that you are most likely to come across this term is through a cask broker or dealer.
Owning A Cask: What Is A Delivery Order?
When you buy a cask you should receive a delivery order. The delivery order ensures that ownership of the cask is transferred into your name at the warehouse where the cask is stored and not just at the company that sold you the cask. You can read more about the importance of delivery orders here.
In layman’s terms, a delivery order is like the V5C document on your car; it transfers the ownership of the title of the car and notifies HMRC. If you do not get a V5C with a car then according to HMRC the ownership will be with the former owner/dealer. Similarly, if you buy a cask without getting a delivery order then the cask will remain in the ownership of the company that sold it to you.
However, some brokers or dealers say they cannot issue you with a delivery order on the basis that you need to be on the WOWGR register in order to receive one. When buying a cask as a private individual this is not true.
The Legislation: Excise Notice 196
Excise Notice 196 outlines the legislation surrounding excise goods held in duty suspension in the UK. This applies to casks as they are held in duty suspension whilst they are in bond.
The important part for private individuals who are looking to buy casks is Excise Notice 196, section 5.1 which states that:
“All owners of duty-suspended excise goods must obtain approval and registration, unless […] the owner of the excise goods is not a revenue trader”.
The “approval and registration” here refers to being on the WOWGR register. You do need to register for a WOWGR if you are a revenue trader. But what is a revenue trader?
What Is A Revenue Trader?
The definition of ‘revenue trader’ according to the gov.uk website is:
“[(a)] any person carrying on a trade or business subject to any of the revenue trade provisions of the customs and excise Acts”
So as long as you purchase the duty suspended goods (i.e. casks) as a private individual you do not need a WOWGR. Note that if you begin trading in duty suspended goods (i.e. casks) then the requirements are transformed and you will require WOWGR registration.
Note that section 5.1 states “the owner of the excise goods is not a revenue trader”.
So, when buying a cask it is important that you make it clear that you are not a revenue trader.
How Many Casks Can I Own?
There is no definition of a private individual stated in Excise Notice 196, only the definition of what a revenue trader is. As such, the legislation is open to quite a lot of interpretation.
We have spoken to HMRC consultants and a number of warehouse keepers in the industry (distilleries, etc.) and the broad consensus is that a private client can own up to 5 casks without being seen as a revenue trader. Similarly, if you start buying some, selling some, buying more etc, then, as far as HMRC is concerned, you are now trading and will be required to join the WOWGR register.
We always adhere to the side of caution, and it is for this reason it is best to keep the number of casks you own at 5 or less.
Let’s Get More Technical
To further complicate things, WOWGR registration is not the only license you would require to trade and store duty suspended goods. For the sake of full understanding we will touch upon all the registration schemes you need to know about and what each means.
Authorised Warehousekeeper Registration Certificate
Recognised by the letters GBWK preceding a number: e.g. GBWK1234567890
GBWK = Great Britain Warehouse Keeper
Only the Warehouse Keeper can change records at the warehouse, i.e. changing the owner’s name on their records. As such all delivery orders are sent to the Warehouse Keeper and in order to be a Warehouse Keeper you are required to obtain an Authorised Warehousekeeper Registration Certificate.
General Storage and Distribution Warehouse Approval Number
Recognised by the letters GB preceding a number: e.g. GB1234567890
This is the number given to a particular warehouse. For instance, Diageo might have 1 Warehouse Keeper but 100 different warehouses. A new certificate is required for each approved warehouse site.
Registered Owners of Duty Suspended Goods held in Excise
Warehouses Registration Certificate
Recognised by the letters GBOG preceding a number: e.g. GBOG1234567890 GBOG
GBOG = Great Britain Owner of Goods
This is the number that will be on a company’s WOWGR certificate. It gives them the right to own duty suspended goods. It is worth noting that this does not give them the right to transfer ownership of goods at a warehouse. This can only be done with a delivery order sent to the approved Warehouse Keeper.
Duty Representative Registration Certificate
Recognised by the letters GBDR preceding a number: e.g. GBDR1234567890 GBOG
GBDR = Great Britain Duty Representative
If you acquire a Duty Representative Registration Certificate then you are licensed to represent overseas companies. This is a very complex area but the most important thing to know is that someone with a WOWGR is not automatically given the right to represent overseas companies. So, if you are based outside of the UK, you need to ensure someone has a GBDR certificate in order to represent you to HMRC.
Summary: If You Are Not A Revenue Trader Then You Do Not Need A WOWGR To Receive a Delivery Order
If the company that you are buying through does not issue you with a delivery order then, as far as HRMC is concerned, you are not the owner of your cask. Therefore, it is very important that you receive a delivery order.
The legislation defined above is good to have on hand when in discussion with a broker or dealer so that you can ensure that you receive a delivery order, and the cask that you purchase is officially in your name.
If you have any questions regarding delivery orders, the WOWGR register, or anything else to do with cask investment or ownership then please do get in touch.