If your business involves the production or marketing of Somerset Cider Brandy, find out:
- who should apply for verification
- what fees you’ll need to pay
- what happens if a production process is found to be non-compliant
- how HMRC verifies compliance with the Technical File for Somerset Cider Brandy and recovers its verification costs
The glossary of terms at the end of this guidance will help you understand some of the terms and abbreviations used.
Verifying Somerset Cider Brandy
Somerset Cider Brandy is a registered Geographical Indication under Regulation (EU) No 2009/787, which requires products to comply with the specifications of their relevant Technical File that was originally submitted in accordance with Regulation (EC) 110/2008.
All Somerset Cider Brandy produced in the UK must be verified and comply with the Technical File for Somerset Cider Brandy.
- carry out verification visits to production facilities
- check that processes comply with the Technical File
- verify products as compliant, for example by checking invoices, delivery records, equipment and procedures
- assure production processes using these
- record compliant processes as ‘assured’ – HMRC can only verify a brand if all processes involved have been assured, including non-UK blending and bottling or labelling facilities
- publish details of production facilities and verified brands on the look-up service
- only access records relating to tax and duty assurance already held by us that are required to support the verification, as outlined in the verification checks
HMRC’s role does not extend to enforcement. Where appropriate and permitted, we will pass relevant information onto the appropriate enforcement authorities.
Unless there is a need to carry out verification on a more frequent basis, or we have agreed a longer period, we will verify producers every 2 years.
The following main pieces of legislation are given in respect of geographical indication for Somerset Cider Brandy.
The main regulations that apply in the EU
The regulations include:
- Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks — the provisions on geographical indications in this regulation were revoked and replaced in June 2019
- Regulation (EC) No 787/2019 on the definition, description, presentation, and labelling and the protection of geographical indications for spirit drinks — the provisions on geographical indications in this regulation became applicable from 8 June 2019
For Great Britain, these regulations will become retained EU law through the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, with operability amendments being made through secondary legislation.
The main regulations that apply in Great Britain
The regulations include:
- retained Regulation 110/2008, amended by the Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/1637), for the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks
- retained Regulation 716/2013, amended by the Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1637) and the Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/1661), which contains provisions relating to compound terms, allusions and dilutions
- retained Regulation 2019/787, amended by the Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/1637) and the Agricultural Products, Food and Drink (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (S.I 2020/1661), for the protection of geographical indications for spirit drinks
- the Spirit Drinks Regulations 2008 (S.I. 2008/3206), as most recently amended by the following (these provide for the enforcement of the other regulations):
These provide for the enforcement of the other regulations. Under Regulation 5, HMRC are the designated authority responsible for verifying spirit drinks with a protected geographical indication, and making sure products comply with the specifications in the Technical File and enforcement authorities (food authorities and port health authorities) are designated under Regulation 6.
The Spirit Drinks (Costs of Verification) Regulations 2013 also applies, providing the legal basis for HMRC’s verification schemes and enabling HMRC to charge a fee in order to recover its verification costs.
The main regulations that apply in Northern Ireland
The regulations include:
- EU Regulation 2019/787 for the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks and the protection of geographical indications for spirit drinks — this regulation may be amended or supplemented by delegated or implementing regulations, which can be found by searching the EU’s legislation website
- the Spirit Drinks Regulations 2008 (S.I. 2008/3206), most recently amended by the following (these provide for the enforcement of EU Regulation 2019/787):
Who should apply
You should apply for the Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme if you carry out any of the following production processes for Somerset Cider Brandy:
- growing apples (orchard)
- juice production
Somerset Cider Brandy producers should select ‘Other Geographical Indicators’ on this form, and type in the appropriate product.
How to submit brand information
Once your product has been verified under the scheme, verified bottlers should submit brand information.
If you are a brand owner, and someone else produces or bottles and labels your brand, you do not need to apply for verification. The blender or bottler is responsible for applying for verification and notifying us of your brands.
Re-bottling and re-labelling
Verification is required for Somerset Cider Brandy being bottled for the first time, or being re-bottled or re-labelled, or both.
Re-labelling is a verifiable process which comes under the verification for bottling and labelling or labelling only. If you carry out this process and are not already verified for bottling and labelling or labelling only, you should apply for verification.
Bottlers and labellers should apply for verification and demonstrate compliance of their processes with the specifications in the Somerset Cider Brandy Technical File in the same way as any other Somerset Cider Brandy producer or processor. If these processes are not assured, the final bottled or labelled product cannot be verified and cannot be marketed legally.
Examples of re-labelling or re-bottling which require verification include:
- a business decants bottled stock into smaller bottles and uses their own labels
- labelling of bottles in visitor centres that are often personalised and can be taken away – these sites would need to keep records detailing the bottles sold, stock control – the Spirit Drinks Verification Unit may ask to see the labels to ensure compliance with the Technical File
- re-labelling bottles if the label is damaged or an existing labelled brand is to be sent to a different market and so requires a different label (for legal or marketing reasons) – these facilities are responsible for making sure the labels comply with the requirements of the Technical File
How much you’ll need to pay
If you are a Somerset Cider Brandy producer, you’ll have to pay a standard verification fee before your verification visit.
You’ll need to pay:
- £902 if you carry out all the production processes
- £451 if you do not carry out all the production processes, for example if you carry out bottling only or bottling and maturation
Each premise where a production process takes place requires a separate fee.
HMRC review fees annually and publish any changes in this guidance.
Find out how to pay the verification fee.
What happens if a production process is non-compliant
HMRC will identify non-compliant production processes, and potentially non-compliant (unverified) brands, either:
- during verification visits
- by notifications from other producers
- through information provided by members of the public
If your processes are non-compliant, the Spirit Drinks Verification Unit will discuss with you how you can make your processes compliant. HMRC will agree a reasonable period of correction to make your processes compliant. This time will normally be proposed by the Spirit Drinks Verification Unit and agreed with you.
If you do not take corrective action during this agreed period to comply, HMRC will amend, remove from, or not include, your details on the look-up service.
If a production process loses its assured status, any spirits produced afterwards will not be verified and cannot be sold as Somerset Cider Brandy. You should ensure your customers are aware of this, so that they can make alternative supply arrangements.
HMRC may also:
- inform the relevant enforcement authority through the legal gateways or Regulation (EC) No 110/2008
- inform the brand owner of the changed status of production process that may impact on their products
- inform the proprietor or producer of the changed status of their brand
- reflect the changed status of affected brands on the look-up service
Non-compliance could also result in breaches of local laws in EU countries where Somerset Cider Brandy is defined or protected as a Geographical Indication.
When HMRC will not publish details of production facilities and brands
HMRC will not publish details of production facilities or brands when:
- there is no application for verification
- a production facility has never operated an assured process
- a brand has not been notified to us
- a brand has never been verified
Where a production facility is not published as having assured processes, this will compromise all brands using processes at that production facility.
If a production facility fails to maintain assurance of its production processes, or a brand fails to maintain its verified status, the effective date of that change of status will be reflected in the details published on the look-up service, rather than details being removed or not published.
Non-compliant products sold, delivered from the production facility or subject to a subsequent production process will not be verified as Somerset Cider Brandy. They cannot legally be sold as Somerset Cider Brandy.
If a process stops to be verified, any product delivered from that production facility on or after the date that verification status is removed will be non-compliant.
Concerns about unverified Somerset Cider Brandy
You should contact the designated enforcement authorities directly. You can find these through the Food Standards Agency website.
This guidance uses terms which can have different meanings depending on the context. For clarity, the terms below should always be associated with the accompanying definitions.
|Producer||The owner of a production facility carrying out at least one process in the production of Somerset Cider Brandy.|
|Operator||A person responsible for the operation of a production facility. This can be a distillery manager, for example.|
|Facility or production facility||A facility operating one or more production processes required to create Somerset Cider Brandy.|
|Process or production process||One of the processes required to create Somerset Cider Brandy.|
|Brand||The label name on a bottled product excluding ages, descriptors and regions.|
|Brand Owner||The owner of a Somerset Cider Brandy brand that is placed on the market for retail sale.|
|Technical file||A document that specifies the requirements of Somerset Cider Brandy. This includes requirements for production, description, presentation and labelling of Somerset Cider Brandy.|
|Fermentation||The process of converting sugars into alcohol with the addition of yeast. This includes all stages of production up to but not including the distillation process.|
|Distillation||The process of acquiring spirit drinks using a fermented mixture. This includes all stages after fermentation up to the point where newly distilled spirit is obtained.|
|Maturation||The process of ageing spirit.|
|Blending||The process of combining two or more Somerset Cider Brandy products to create a new product.|
|Bottling and Labelling||The processes of:
– emptying containers of Somerset Cider Brandy for the purpose of bottling, dilution to bottling strength, bottling the diluted contents and labelling for presentation
– any re-bottling and re-labelling of previously bottled Somerset Cider Brandy
Labelling means all descriptions and other references, signs, designs or trademarks which distinguish a drink and which appear on the same container. This includes its sealing device or the tag attached to the container and the sheathing covering the neck of the bottle.
|Bulk Somerset Cider Brandy||Somerset Cider Brandy that has still to be put into its retail container.|
If you have any queries about your application, would like further advice, or need to change your details, email the Spirit Drinks Verification Unit at email@example.com.
You can also contact HMRC’s Alcohol Policy team either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at:
Alcohol Policy Team
3W Ralli Quays
3 Stanley Street