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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Inspection Powers: Marking goods or assets

Marking assets or goods and recording information (stamping and scanning exercises) are primarily targeted at countering VAT fraud through cross-border transactions. This is commonly known as ‘carousel’ or ‘missing trader intra-community’ (MTIC) fraud

There are no current plans to carry out stamping and scanning exercises other than for the purpose of countering serious fraud such as MTIC fraud.

If you consider it to be appropriate to use these powers in other situations, you must submit your case to the VAT Fraud Team for permission beforehand.

Applying an HMRC mark, usually to the outer packaging of goods, provides a visual clue to help identify goods that may be subject to carousel movements. These movements are artificially contrived transaction chains where goods move between the UK and other EU member states or third countries, with VAT going unpaid during each circuit.

When stamping goods you must make sure that you do not cause any damage to the goods themselves. There is no evidence that stamping, which is normally applied to the outer packaging of goods only (not the retail packaging), leads to any damage or devaluation of the assets. The major manufacturers of the principal types of goods that HMRC apply stamping to have given assurances that stamping should have no effect on the value of the goods themselves.