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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

How to do a compliance check: using inspection powers: during a visit: removing records

If it is not possible or practical for you to obtain copies of documents that you need, you may need to consider removing documents.

In some cases you may need the original of a document for evidential purposes.

You can remove a document

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

You must allow the person to take a copy of documents that you are removing.

You should keep the records only as long as you need them to complete the compliance check.

If you remove a document you must give a written receipt, whether or not the person asks for one. The description of the records on the receipt requires some care. Normally, it will be sufficient to record a basic description, for example

Two (2) sales ledgers said to relate to January 2001 - April 2002

Batch of purchase invoices said to relate to 2001

File of copy sales invoices said to relate to January/March 2001

You should take care that you do not use a form of words that could later be interpreted as having included all the documents for a stated period, nor should you specify or accept a range of invoice numbers if you have only looked at the opening and closing numbers in the range. Said to relate to is less open to argument than relating to.

If a person insists on greater detail, for example listing each invoice number, take extra care to include only those records that are removed.

If a document is reasonably required by the person it belongs to you should provide a free copy without delay.

For officers in Local Compliance you should refer to the guidance on Customers paper based records for further information.