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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: taking control of goods (TCoG): time limits and premises for taking control of goods

Time limits for taking control of goods

You must not normally take control of a debtor’s goods after the expiry of 12 months since the date the Notice of Enforcement was given. However, if the debtor enters into a time to pay (TTP) arrangement after the notice is given and then breaches the terms of the arrangement, the 12-month period begins with the date of the debtor’s breach (see DMBM657170).

If you have reasonable grounds for not taking control of goods within the 12-month period, then you can make an application to the court (via your manager) to extend the period by a further 12 months.

You may take control of goods either:

  • between the hours of 6am and 9pm on any day of the week
  • during the period of trading, when a debtor conducts their business partly or wholly outside those hours.

You may not take control of goods before 6am or after 9pm, unless either:

  • you began to take control during the permitted time (if you did, you can continue beyond this time provided that the duration of time spent in taking control of goods is reasonable)
  • the court, on application by the Enforcement Agent, orders otherwise.

Premises for taking control of goods

You may enter relevant premises (see DMBM657080) to search for and take control of goods. Where there are different relevant premises, you are authorised to enter each of them and you are also authorised to have repeated entry to the same premises (see DMBM657130). Premises are relevant if you reasonably believe that they are the place, or one of the places, where the debtor either:

  • usually lives (for limited companies this will be their registered office)
  • carries on a trade or business.

Premises means any place, and also includes a:

  • vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft
  • tent or movable structure.

You may also take control of goods on a highway.

Simultaneous actions at more than one site

You may take control of goods at more than one location (including on the highway). Where a defaulter has goods in several places (for example, a chain of shops), you can take control of goods at each location, but all assets should be aggregated and listed under a single inventory.