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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Inspection Powers: Inspecting premises that are a home

The business premises definition allows us the right to enter any home, see CH25220, used in connection with the carrying on of a business. However, it is essential that this right is exercised with care and consideration. People have a right to privacy, see CH21340 and can refuse to let you enter, see CH25650.

Wherever practicable you should avoid inspecting at premises that are also a person’s home. You will normally be able to find an alternative location such as at an agent’s premises or an HMRC office. You should however inspect at a person’s home if they prefer you to do so, unless it would otherwise defeat the purpose of the check. They might prefer you to inspect the records at their home because, for example, there is no chance of losing any when moving them to another location.

Although you have the right to enter and inspect business premises, you do not have the right to enter or inspect any part of those premises that are used solely as a dwelling.

For example

Horace runs a Bed & Breakfast business from his home. You are allowed to inspect empty guestrooms and any other public areas set aside for guests. You are not allowed to enter or inspect any of the bedrooms or other rooms used solely by Horace and his family.
Where an inspection is appropriate you will normally wish to see the records at the premises where the business is carried on. This may not be practical for a variety of reasons so you may be invited to the person’s home where the records are stored. If you accept the invitation you must not enter other parts of the house such as bedrooms, unless it is necessary to pass through them to get to the place to be inspected.

Remember that the person has the right to refuse you entry, see CH25650.