Find out about the Non-Statutory Clearance Service

How to use the Non-Statutory Clearance Service offered by HMRC for all customers and their advisers.

Before you start

You should:

When HMRC will give advice under this service

You can ask HMRC for further guidance or advice if all of the following apply:

  • you’ve fully read the relevant guidance or contacted the relevant helpline
  • you’ve not been able to find the information you need
  • you’re genuinely uncertain about how the legislation applies to your circumstances

HMRC will then give you written advice.

When HMRC will not give advice under this service

If you ask for advice and HMRC does not give it, we’ll tell you why. This could be because:

  • you’ve not given all the necessary information — read the checklists at Annexes A to E for details of what you need to give
  • HMRC does not think that there are genuine points of uncertainty, we’ll explain why we think this and direct you to the relevant online guidance
  • you’re asking HMRC to give tax planning advice, or to ‘approve’ tax planning products or arrangements
  • your application is about treatment of transactions which, in HMRC’s view, are for the purposes of avoiding tax
  • HMRC is checking your tax position for the period in question, in which case you’ll need to contact the officer dealing with the check
  • any related return for the period in question is final (except if you’re making a clearance application in connection with an offshore disclosure being made with HMRC’s Digital Disclosure Service)
  • there’s a statutory clearance applicable to your transaction — find out if this applies by reading HMRC’s guidance on how to apply for clearance or approval of a transaction from HMRC

HMRC will not give:

  • a clearance on matters of fact, for example if certain activities constitute a business
  • clearances or advice about either the:
    • application of the ‘settlements legislation’ in chapter 5 part 5 Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act 2005
    • tax consequences of executing non-charitable trust deeds or settlements
  • clearances relating to the venture capital schemes (parts 5 to 6 of Income Tax Act 2007)

Information you need to give

To help you decide what information is relevant to your application when you write to HMRC, read the checklists at annexes A to E.

You should use

  • Annex A for all transactions other than Business Investment Relief, Business Property Relief and VAT — head your letter ‘Clearance service’
  • Annex B for advance assurance on Business Investment Relief for non-domiciled persons taxed on the remittance basis — head your letter ‘Advance Assurance for Business Investment Relief’
  • Annex C for Inheritance Tax Business Property Relief clearances
  • Annex D for VAT clearances
  • Annex E for post transaction clearances connected to an offshore disclosure

HMRC asks for this information to make sure that we understand the background to your request and where your uncertainty lies. This helps to process your application quicker.

When you write to HMRC, you must be satisfied that the information you give is, to the best of your knowledge and belief, accurate and correct.

Where you should send your application

You should submit your application using the email address provided in the relevant Annex.

If you need to disclose sensitive information, and have concerns about sending this by email, send a short email:

  • without any sensitive data
  • with details of how we can contact you

Someone will get back to you as soon as possible to arrange an alternative.

If you are a Large Business Directorate customer with a Customer Compliance Manager, you should submit your application to the correct Large Business mailbox address.

When HMRC will reply

We’ll usually reply within 28 days unless there are any complicated issues involved. If there are, we’ll acknowledge your request and if possible tell you when to expect a full reply. If this is not possible, we’ll contact you when we’re able to tell you when you can expect a full reply.

VAT non-statutory clearance requests are taking approximately 12 weeks to process.

Sometimes HMRC may need to ask you to give more information before we can send you a full reply. If so, we’ll suspend the handling time for your application until you’re able to give us the additional information that we’ve requested.

We may wish to contact you by telephone for clarification, so it helps if you can give a daytime contact number.

If you want to get in touch with HMRC to follow up your clearance application, you can either:

Time limits, interest and penalties

HMRC’s advice does not affect the date which you have to pay your tax or send in returns by. You may have to pay interest and late payment penalties on any tax that you pay late, for whatever reason.

If you’ve asked for advice after a transaction has taken place, but not received this by the time your return (or, for Business Property Relief clearances, an Inheritance Tax account) is due to be submitted, you should still send your completed return on time.

If you send HMRC your return on time, you’ll not be liable to penalties for failing to make a return. When you receive HMRC’s response, you can (if necessary) amend your tax return as long as you’re within the normal time limits to do so.

If you’re seeking advance assurance that a proposed investment will meet the requirements of Business Investment Relief, the time limit within which qualifying investment needs to be made remains unaffected.

If you disagree with HMRC’s view of your transaction and complete your return and pay tax in line with your own view of the proper tax treatment, then you may not have paid the right amount of tax at the right time.

In these circumstances, if your return contains a careless or deliberate error which results in a loss of tax or an inflated claim to repayment of tax, then you may be liable to interest and penalties.

When you can rely on information or advice given by HMRC

You’ll be able to rely on HMRC’s advice as long as both:

  • the information you’ve supplied is accurate and complete
  • you carry out the proposed transactions exactly as you describe them

Find out more about how HMRC advice and information can help you.

What you can do if you disagree

HMRC aims to give you a clear reply to your questions and recognises that sometimes you may not agree with what we say, or you may not be happy with the service we’ve given.

If you disagree with HMRC’s advice, you may complete your return in line with your own view of the proper tax treatment, but you should draw HMRC’s attention to the particular entry in your return and explain what you’ve done.

If you believe that HMRC has failed to take account of some of the reasons you set out in your request, contact the officer who dealt with your application (their details will be on the letter HMRC sent you). Explain what facts you feel were overlooked and ask them to look at your request again. If you are unhappy, you can ask for the request to be referred to another officer.

If you’re unhappy with the way HMRC has handled your request, tell the person or office you’ve been dealing with. If we’re unable to resolve the issue, you can complain about HMRC.

If you can appeal

There’s no general right of appeal against advice given by HMRC, except where rights to appeal are set out in statute.

Appeal rights are usually against decisions HMRC take, such as issuing an assessment for underpaid tax or a penalty.

However, some VAT related decisions are classed as ‘appealable decisions’ by statute. The letter HMRC sends you’ll explain if you’re able to appeal and tell you what to do if you disagree with a VAT decision.

Published 8 August 2013
Last updated 1 December 2023 + show all updates
  1. Guidance about when HMRC will not give advice under this service has been updated.

  2. Guidance about when HMRC will give advice under this service has been updated.

  3. The section on when you will receive a reply from HMRC has been updated.

  4. Guidance about where you should send your application if you are Large Business Directorate customer with a Customer Compliance Manager has been updated.

  5. The section 'Where you should send your application' has been updated to include information on where to submit your application if you have a Customer Compliance Manager.

  6. VAT non-statutory clearance requests are currently taking around 12 weeks to process.

  7. Information has been added about submitting your application using the email address provided in the relevant Annex, as we are currently unable to deal with applications made by post due to the situation with coronavirus (COVID-19).

  8. We have updated HMRC's email address to

  9. 'When HMRC will not give advice under this service' section updated.

  10. The 'When HMRC will reply' section has been updated with a contact email address to follow up VAT clearance applications.

  11. Guidance on when HMRC will not provide advice under this service has been updated.

  12. The section on 'When HMRC will reply' has been updated.

  13. The section on 'When HMRC will not provide advice under this service' has been updated.

  14. Updated guidance on the current transaction clearances process so taxpayers can see how these processes work.

  15. Annex D for VAT clearances has been added ot the page.

  16. First published.