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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Information & Inspection Powers: Types of inspection: When to carry out an inspection

Normally you will carry out an inspection on a date and at a time agreed in advance with the person receiving the inspection, see CH25480.

The person receiving the inspection will usually be the person whose tax position is being checked but it could be the occupier of premises believed to be used in connection with the supply of goods, as described in CH25100. When making contact with a business, you should make sure you are dealing with the appropriate person or that the person you speak to has the authority to agree the inspection date and time.

Where a time and date cannot be agreed in advance

  • the inspection must be at a reasonable time (see below), and
  • the occupier must be given a minimum of 7 days notice, see CH25480.

Sometimes it may be necessary to carry out an inspection without advance agreement or warning.

Unannounced inspections, see CH25520, can only be made by

  • an authorised officer, see CH21720,
  • any officer with an authorised officer’s agreement, or
  • any officer with the approval of the tribunal, see CH25540.

A ‘reasonable time’ is one in which the premises are open for business or when staff are present. The vast majority of times will be between 9am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday but other times are possible. What is reasonable will to a certain extent depend upon the nature of the business

For example

Delilah’s Restaurant is open for food between 6.00pm and midnight but staff are on the premises from 12.30pm preparing food for the evening. Delilah may find it more convenient to have you visit in the afternoon before she greets the diners in the evening.

Some persons may ask for a visit to take place in the evening because they have employed work elsewhere during the day. Whether you visit at such times will be covered by local operational practice.