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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: Foreign cases: Mutual Assistance in the Recovery of Debt (MARD) (Social Security Debts): referring cases to the International Debt Unit, MARD team or to DM Birmingham

When a case can be referred to the International Debt Unit, MARD team

Where you are pursuing a UK National Insurance contribution debt or UK Child Tax Credit overpayment for a debtor that lives in another country covered by the agreement, you can ask the International Debt Unit, MARD team to send a request to that country asking them to assist in either:

  • providing information, such as checking an address, confirming the identity of a resident or whether they have any means of payment of the debt
  • notifying/serving legal documents on our behalf
  • recovering a UK NICs debt or UK Child Tax Credit overpayment on our behalf.

If the request meets the criteria set down in the agreement, the International Debt Unit, MARD team will send the request to the other country on your behalf. They will not send a request unless the debt outstanding is for 350 euros or more. They will also not send a request if the debt is currently being disputed.

When a case can be referred to DM Birmingham

Where you are pursuing a UK Child Benefit or a Guardians Allowance overpayment for a debtor that lives in another country covered by the agreement, you can ask DM Birmingham to send a request to that country asking them to assist in either:

  • providing information, such as checking an address, confirming the identity of a resident or whether they have any means of payment of the debt
  • notifying/serving legal documents on our behalf
  • recovering a UK Child Benefit overpayment on our behalf.

If the request meets the criteria set down in the agreement, DM Birmingham will send the request to the other country on your behalf. They will not send a request unless the debt outstanding is for 350 euros or more. They will also not send a request if the debt is currently being disputed.

Who can refer a case to the International Debt Unit, MARD team or DM Birmingham

Cases can be referred to the International Debt Unit, MARD team from any Debt Management team involved in the recovery of a UK NICs debt or a UK Child Tax Credit overpayment, from a debtor living in another country covered by this agreement.

Cases can only be referred to DM Birmingham from the Child Benefit Office/Guardians Allowance team.

How to refer requests to the International Debt Unit, MARD team

The action you need to take depends on the type of request.

Requests for information

Send an email to the International Debt Unit, MARD team mailbox, MARD, Team (DM Debt Mgmt), with:

  • the other country to contact
  • the debt type
  • the age of the debt you are pursuing
  • the full name of the debtor
  • the legal status of the debtor
  • if an individual, the maiden name of the debtor (if known)
  • if an individual, the date of birth of the debtor (if known)
  • the UK reference for the debtor (for example, the National Insurance number)
  • the address of the debtor in the other country and whether this is a known address or an assumed address
  • the information requested.

If you are trying to trace a missing debtor, you need to provide at least a partial address in the other country. It is unrealistic to ask an overseas authority to trace the debtor without this. Other countries will confirm doubtful addresses and provide details of lifestyle and/or employment where possible.

Requests for notification

If you have an electronic version of the document to be notified you can send it to the International Debt Unit, MARD team by email, MARD, Team (DM Debt Mgmt). Otherwise, you will need to send the documents to them by TNT.

To make the request, the International Debt Unit, MARD team will need:

  • the other country to contact
  • the debt type
  • the age of the debt
  • the full name of the debtor
  • the legal status of the debtor
  • if an individual, the maiden name of the debtor (if known)
  • if an individual, the date of birth of the debtor (if known)
  • the UK reference for the debtor (eg the National Insurance number)
  • the full address of the debtor in the other country
  • the date the documents need to be notified by
  • the purpose of the notification; for example, to ask for payment, to inform the addressee about the documents and so on
  • a description of the documents to be notified; for example, assessment, payment request, outcome of an appeal
  • name and reference number of the document to be notified
  • details of the debt, including the date of establishment, a breakdown of the debt, when the debt should be paid by
  • contact details of the office to contact in the event of a dispute.

If the information above is already contained in the document to be notified, there is no need to provide it separately.

Request for recovery

Before you can refer a request for recovery to the International Debt Unit, MARD team, you must ensure that:

  • a MARD10 SEES letter has been sent to the debtor at their overseas address and that the debtor has failed to respond to this
  • the debt is not in dispute and any appeal period in respect of the debt has elapsed
  • the total debt is for at least 350 euros (including interest, penalties and UK costs incurred)
  • recovery action in the UK is not appropriate
  • the individual or company liable to pay the debt is resident or has assets in another country - if the debt is for a limited company, it is the company that must be established or have assets in the other country, not the director; the only exception to this is if the director has been made personally liable for the debt.

To make the request:

  • on the IDMS Notes and Assets page, insert:
    • the country to contact
    • the date the MARD10 SEES letter was issued to the debtor
    • contact details of the HMRC office who will deal with any dispute about the debt
  • transfer the debt to the International Debt Unit, MARD team on IDMS using OU 315300 and next action code ‘Manager Review’ - you must not refer debts to this OU unless all of the above conditions for referral have been met; if the above conditions haven’t been met but a referral to the International Debt Unit is still appropriate, transfer the debt to OU 335200 and don’t set a next action code.

If the debtor disputes the debt after the case has been referred to the International Debt Unit, MARD team, tell the International Debt Unit, MARD team immediately. The International Debt Unit, MARD team will ask the other country to suspend their recovery action until the dispute has been finalised.

Once the dispute has been finalised, tell the International Debt Unit, MARD team of the outcome. The International Debt Unit, MARD team will update the other country and if appropriate ask them to continue with any recovery action.

How to refer requests to DM Birmingham

Refer the case to DM Birmingham electronically on form E37.

An LFC001a letter must be sent to the debtor at their overseas address and the debtor must have failed to respond to this letter before a request for recovery can be made to another country.