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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
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Information and Inspection Powers: Inspection Powers: Failure to allow an inspection

Failure to allow an inspection includes

  • non-cooperation when you try and arrange a visit, and
  • refusing to allow you onto the premises when you get there.

Arranging a visit

If you experience difficulty in arranging an inspection you should discuss the case with your team leader, manager or authorising officer. You will need to decide the most effective and appropriate course of action. This may be an unannounced inspection, see CH25520.

Refusal of entry

The person whose tax position you are checking or occupier of the premises you wish to inspect has the right to refuse you entry. It cannot be overridden, so a person retains the right to refuse entry to their property even when an officer has a right to enter and inspect with tribunal approval. You should try to establish why you are being refused entry and if possible agree a date and time for a return visit. If this is not possible, you should withdraw and try to arrange another visit at a later time.

You will need to decide the most effective and appropriate course of action with your team leader, manager or authorising officer. This may be to ask the tribunal to approve the inspection, see CH25540. Any reasons you are given for not letting you onto the premises will need to be put before the tribunal.

See CH25700 where you are refused entry and the inspection has been approved by the tribunal.


Where the occupier of the premises asks you to leave during the course of an inspection, you must do so immediately. Make a note of the circumstances that have triggered the request, or any explanation the occupier may give. Receiving a phone call that their child has been hurt at school is very different from deciding, without further explanation, that they no longer want you to inspect the business. You should make arrangements to complete your inspection either before you leave or after you return to the office.