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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Operational Guidance

Supporting Guidance: business records checks: BRC officer’s notebook: completing the notebook

Note: For the purpose of this guidance a page is both sides of a sheet of paper.

All notes made during official contact with customers must be recorded in ink in a BRC Officer’s Notebook. It is essential they are completed legibly and properly maintained.

Each notebook must be:

  • Bound (either hard or soft back) or stapled in the middle so the pages are firmly fixed.
  • Numbered and used consecutively.
  • Maintained for 6 years after the last entry and then destroyed in year 7 unless any cases are still open and the records are likely to be required for disclosure purposes or as evidence at a tribunal(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) Notebooks retention schedule.

The destruction date should be marked clearly on the front of the book.


  • Notebooks must contain an index at the front, with continuous page numbers, each number referring to one side of a page.
  • The start and finish date of the notebook should be shown.
  • Each side of the pages within each notebook should also be numbered and used consecutively.
  • For reasons of confidentiality, each new visit record must start on the next left hand page.
  • Notes must be made at the time of the visit, and must not be written up later.
  • Each visit should be identifiable in the notebook by date, time, Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number, Caseflow reference and name or names of any persons interviewed.
  • On completion of the visit, unused lines must be ruled off with a Z and signed by you.
  • Any mistake identified at the time of writing must be scored through with a single line, initialled by the caseworker and the correct words inserted after the error. Correction fluid or other such correction media must not be used to amend an entry.
  • If you are in a situation where you cannot use your normal notebook, notes can be written and fixed into the notebook as soon as is practically possible. The original notes must be stapled into the notebook. A colleague, preferably your line manager or an accompanying caseworker, should sign and date the insertion and the notebook.
  • Documents should only be stapled into notebooks in exceptional situations and the notebook should detail why it has been done. Under no circumstances must staples be removed from such documents as this may call into question the credibility of the notebook.
  • Documents must not be pasted into notebooks

If you do not do all of the actions above, then the accuracy and validity of your notebooks may be questioned at tribunal.

Notebooks must not

  • have any pages removed
  • contain non-common abbreviations
  • contain unsolicited, unprofessional or offensive comments.

Signing of notebooks by customers

Customers must not be asked, or be permitted, to sign notebooks to signify approval of any notes. See COG11660 for further information on disclosure and confidentiality regarding notebooks.