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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: Air Passenger Duty: Who is liable to pay the debt? The handling agent

A handling agent is any person (other than an individual) who, in agreement with the registrable person either:

  • makes arrangements for the allocation of seats to passengers on aircraft operated by the registrable person
  • supervises the boarding of such aircraft by the passengers.

If a foreign registrable operator fails to appoint a fiscal representative we may, as alast resort, require the handling agent to pay duty due. Section 37 (6) of the Finance Act1994, provides:

“If, where a notice given to a handling agent under this section is effective –

* the allocation of seats to passengers on aircraft operated by his principal, or the supervision of the boarding of such aircraft by passengers, is carried out in pursuance of arrangements made by him under any agreement with his principal, and
* any duty payable in respect of those passengers is not paid

the handling agent shall be liable jointly and severally with his principal for the payment of the duty.”

In practice, it is very unlikely that you will be taking civil recovery action against ahandling agent. The notice required to be served on the handling agent will give himplenty of time to make arrangements or to review his contract with the operator.