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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Inspection Powers: Obtaining and recording information and copying documents

You may obtain, and record in any way, information relating to any premises, property, goods, assets and documents that you inspect. You may Copy, make Extracts from or Remove inspected documents.

Obtaining Information

You can ask questions to obtain information relating to things you inspect. You cannot use the power to ask wider questions. A person is not obliged to answer your questions. If the inspection is tribunal approved, the person’s refusal to provide information relating to the things you inspect could attract a penalty for deliberately obstructing an inspection. If not tribunal approved, you will need to consider whether to issue an information notice, see CH23060, to require them to provide the information.


The person the document belongs to does not have to allow you to use their copying facilities. If they have no objection to using their copying facilities, it is often the simplest approach to ask them to copy the document for you. Wherever possible, copying arrangements should be agreed in advance.

Where you have not been able to make copying arrangements in advance, you will need to consider how you are going to take copies if necessary. It may be possible to take suitable copying equipment with you, but a more practical solution may be to remove the documents you wish to copy - see below - copy them at the office and return them.


Making an extract means copying only part of a document or recording the information in the document onto other media.


You can only remove a document

  • where it is necessary to do so, and
  • at a reasonable time.

You can only keep the document for a reasonable period. This is the minimum period needed for you to complete the tasks for which it was removed.

If you remove a document you must always give a written receipt, whether or not the person asks for one. If the document is reasonably required by the person the document belongs to, you must also give them a copy of it without charge. Where a part of the document is covered by one of the restrictions listed at CH22100, removing the whole document could compromise that restriction. However, you can make an extract or copy the whole document with the restricted part covered.