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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: using inspection powers: unannounced inspections: issuing the notice

In common with announced inspections, an unannounced inspection should be done at a reasonable time, see CH25460.

Before an unannounced inspection you and your manager must carry out a health and safety risk assessment, see HR62040.

All unannounced inspections must be carried out by at least two caseworkers where there has been no previous HMRC contact, such as a business in the hidden economy. This requirement does not apply where there has been previous contact, such as when the business is already VAT registered.

When you arrive you must give the occupier of the premises a written notice of the inspection using the template inspection notices which can be found in SEES Forms and Letters.

You must explain the reason for your visit to the occupier and how you intend to carry out the inspection.

If the appropriate general information factsheet CC/FS1 (a, b, c, d or g) has not already been issued, this must be given to the occupier, together with a copy of the factsheet CC/FS4 Unannounced visits for inspections (or factsheet CC/FS5 if the inspection is tribunal-approved) and ask if they have any questions.

If the person who is the subject of your compliance check is present, you must advise them that they can call their agent if they wish, although you will not be able to delay the start of the inspection until the agent can attend.

You must ask the person subject to the compliance check whether there is anything about their health or personal circumstances that may make it difficult for them to deal with this check so that you can help.

If they mention that they have a disability ask them

  • what help they need and agree any reasonable adjustments with them
  • whether they would like someone to attend the meeting with them, for example a friend or support worker.

If the occupier is not present, you should give the inspection notice to any person who appears to be in charge. If there is no one who appears to be in charge, leave the notice in a prominent place. Take care to ensure the notice is free from public gaze and safe from the elements. If that is not possible the notice should be delivered to the occupier’s main postal business address.

You must not force entry or use clandestine means to gain entry. If you are refused entry to the premises you should follow the guidance at CH255520.

Template IT01_IT02, which can be found in SEES Forms and Letters, is available for you to make your report to an authorised officer. The authorised officer uses the same template to reply.