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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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How to do a compliance check: using inspection powers: invigilation: overview

What is invigilation?

If, having identified yourself to the customer as an HMRC officer you wish to remain on a customer’s premises for an extended period of time to observe the business activities, you will be carrying out invigilation.

If you do not identify yourself to the customer as an HMRC officer and you remain on a customer’s premises for an extended period of time to observe the business activities, you will be carrying out covert activity and must follow the guidance at CH257100.

Examples of invigilation

Examples of invigilation include:

  • entering the business premises specifically to record numbers of customers, observed over an extended period of time
  • extending the inspection of premises, business assets and business documents that are on the premises, specifically for the purpose of observing the numbers of customers.

The above examples are not exclusive and there may be other types of invigilation you may wish to carry out.

What is the purpose of invigilation?

Invigilation is a way to quantify suppressed takings in businesses with a defined and predictable pattern of declarations. It is particularly useful when sales ratios can be tested. For example, the split between

  • cash and credit or debit card sales, or
  • zero and standard rated sales.

For further guidance on when and how to use invigilation, see CH258200.