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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Inspection Powers: Meaning of 'business premises'

As we have the right to enter business premises, that term must be defined so that we and our customers understand the limit of our powers. You will find more information below about.

Business premises

Business premises are the premises that you have reason to believe are used in connection with the carrying on of a business, see CH25200, by, or on behalf of, a person. If only part of the premises is used in connection with the business, that part will be business premises.

Premises may be used in connection with the carrying on of more than one business. The parts of the premises you may enter depends upon whose tax position you are checking.

For example, a landlord may own a parade of shops that are let to and used by other persons, each of whom carries on a different business from each shop. If you are checking the landlord’s tax position you can enter each shop if that is reasonably required for the purposes of your check. If you are checking the tax position of one of the other businesses, you may only enter the shop from which it is run.

Any business assets or business records on the premises can be inspected where such inspection is reasonably required for the purpose of the tax position check you are doing. For example, if you are checking a landlord’s tax position you may also check any business assets that happen to be on the landlord’s premises, no matter who they belong to, providing checking those assets is part of your check into the landlord’s tax position.


Premises include any building or structure, any land and any means of transport.

Neither the building nor the structure nor the means of transport need to be standing on land owned by the same person, they may be anywhere.

See CH25220 for guidance where the business is run from a private residence.

Means of transport as premises

A means of transport might be used as business premises, for example mobile fish and chip vans and market stalls run from vans.

This does not mean that you should go round entering all the transport used in a business. A car on business premises that is used in carrying on the business is both a business asset, see CH25260, and business premises. Unless you need to enter the vehicle for the purpose of checking the person’s tax position or inspecting goods in it you should inspect it as you would a business asset, from the outside. You might ask the business proprietor to open the boot if you have reason to believe seeing its contents may assist the check being carried out.

You cannot enter or inspect a car that is used only to get the business owner or an employee to and from the workplace. It is neither business premises nor a business asset. You do not have the power to obtain or record information in respect of it.