General cider making issues

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General issues about becoming a cider maker, as part of the Cider makers FAQ


Customs & Excise

Customs and Excise have a dedicated web page on Cider Production which should be regarded as essential reading before contemplating any scale of manufacture. An equally important guide to alcohol duty is here.

General cider making issues

How much cider can you make before the taxman wants his bit?

70 hectolitres (7,000 litres) which is around 1500 gallons. We are lucky to have this exemption in the UK, which is unique to cider. It was originally set in the 1976(?) budget when cider taxation was re-introduced, and was intended to allow small farmhouse cidermakers to continue their trade without the fuss of Excise. The level is deliberately set so that it is too low to form an economically viable stand-alone business. As it is, a number of new producers have taken advantage of it in the last 30 years, so they can start small and move on to greater things.

Is there a form you have to fill in to get the exemption?

Form CP33 is for exemption from registration, and can be found on the HM Revenue & Customs website. Read Notice 162 carefully, especially Section 3 which is specific to cider and perry: Notice 162.

CP33 is here and can be downloaded for printing. Upon receipt of your claim you will get a visit from a HMRC officer to check for large tanks buried in the orchard etc. then about a month later, a letter telling you that your claim for exemption from registration has been accepted (or not).

What is a farm gate licence?

Right now there is no such thing as a farm gate licence.

What is a Personal Licence ?

A personal licence allows you to Wholesale cider to another personal licence holder - which covers supplying pubs, shops etc. A personal licence holder can retail cider at an event e.g. Farmer's Market / Food Festival or at home, but only if this event is covered by a temporary event notice, which is £21.

A personal licence holder can hold 52 temporary events in a calendar year, which means you could technically sell cider from your farm gate every weekend I suppose.

After this it is the Premises licence - to apply for this you need an operating schedule, copies to police, fire, etc. etc. The Premises licence permits the pub, shop, farm etc. to carry on one or more licensable activities, which includes the retail of alcohol, but there has to be a key person, a Designated Premises Supervisor who maintains day to day control of the premises.

If the DPS (who must be a personal licence holder) wishes to leave the premises for half a day, another person may retail the alcohol on his or her behalf, but that person must have written authority to do so - from the DPS.

An odd thing about licensing is that an internet cider seller, wouldn't need a premises licence to retail cider to an individual, but the cider maker whose cider was being sold, would.

If you want to be a Personal licence holder you have to take a course and easy exam, and you get a booklet that explains everything there. Here is a link

Once you have your pass certificate, you can then apply to your local licensing authority.

anything else I should know

Q I hope to sell obout 250 litres through a mate's farm shops in plastic containers with label etc. Is there anything else I should know?

A As well as registering with Customs and Excise as a Duty Exempt producer, you should register with your Local District Council Environmental Health Dept as a Food Production Premises, and have a HACCP plan in place.

There are specific requirements for what must go on the label - name and address of producer, alcohol level, volume of drink, presence of sulphites etc etc. There are various requirements on label type size etc. Weights and Measures (Trading Standards) require accurate fill volumes. Presumably your mate has the appropriate licences to sell alcohol from the licencing section of your Ditrict Council etc.

Some form of Liability Insurance might be good too.

Another point worth thinking about is having your product tested, Environmental Health will often stipulate this and they will have a list of labs locally to you who will do it, such as a hospital etc.,

You may also need to think about batch numbers and tracebility, literally from the container you are selling back to the orchard the fruit came from. As you have already been advised HACCP is necessary, but also things like a cleaning schedule, you will be asked how you clean your containers, equipment etc.,

Good luck, hope this hasn't put you off!!

How much duty is currently payable on production above 70hl?

According to strength (abv), between 26.5 pence and £2.37 per litre.

The rates below are £ duty per hectolitre

Still cider and perry: Exceeding 1.2% - not exceeding 7.5% abv £26.48
Still cider and perry: Exceeding 7.5% - less than 8.5% abv. £39.73
Sparkling cider and perry: Exceeding 1.2% - not exceeding 5.5% abv £26.48
Sparkling cider and perry: Exceeding 5.5% - less than 8.5% abv £172.33
Still wine and made-wine: Exceeding 5.5% - not exceeding 15% abv £177.99
Wine and made-wine: Exceeding 15% - not exceeding 22% abv £237.31

These figures are derived from at HM Customs

What's involved in obtaining 'Organic' certification?

It appears that only the Soil Association can hold the database of organic producers, as enshrined in UK law ( ) but there are several organic certification bodies within the UK, all of which conform to the standards laid down by the EU.

The cost may be difficult to justify for the really small-scale producer. As some kind of sliding scale empoyed, it's not possible to be precise but a single inspection may cost around £300 with a £400 annual fee.

Soil Association certification:

"The application usually takes 12 weeks from when we receive your application."

"Contact us for an application pack - email or call 0117 914 2407"

Other organisations:

A guide to organic food accreditation