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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: using inspection powers: unannounced inspections: authorisation

An authorised officer must give agreement for an unannounced inspection. This will usually be done by the authorised officer signing the inspection notice. The relevant inspection notice template is at CHApp1.11 (Word 35KB) - Inspection Notice: Authorised officer agreement.

A template (Internal Template IT01_02 in SEES Forms and Letters) is available for you to make your report to an authorised officer. The authorised officer may use Part 2.2 of the same template to reply.

An authorised officer can give verbal agreement in some circumstances, in which case the authorised officer will record that fact.

Sometimes the authorised officer will be your manager, but if they are not you should discuss with your manager why you think an unannounced inspection is necessary before you approach an authorised officer. You must provide the authorised officer with the information set out in CH260500.

You must get an authorised officer’s agreement before you arrange the inspection. See CH260000 for further guidance on the role of the authorised officer.

In some circumstances it may also be appropriate to get the tribunal to approve the inspection, for example, if you think you will have problems with cooperation on the visit, see CH25540. The relevant inspection notice template is at CHApp1.12 (Word 38KB) - Announced Inspection Notice: Tribunal approved. Applications to the tribunal for approval of an inspection notice must be made by, or agreed by, an authorised officer.

If the tribunal refuses to approve an unannounced inspection the occupier of the premises must be given at least 7 days’ notice, unless new facts come to light that convince an authorised officer to decide that an unannounced visit is necessary. In such circumstances it is probable that another application to the tribunal for approval should be made. However, an unannounced visit may be made without a further application to the tribunal if this would cause an unacceptable delay to the check.

If a visit is made for the purpose of obtaining information only, for example to establish the identity of a person running a business, then an inspection notice and an authorised officer’s agreement is not required. In these circumstances, if you are invited in to inspect premises and you decide to proceed, you must record in your notebook the fact that the owner, or responsible person, invited you to expand your visit.