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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: taking control of goods (TCoG): entry to a premises and RLS addresses

Entry at relevant premises

You have a right under the legislation to enter the defaulter’s premises by any door, or usual means of entry, to take control of goods. Once you are on the premises and have begun to take control of goods, you are not obliged to leave. As long as you do not behave illegally, you are carrying out your statutory duty. If you are challenged, the enforcement power enabling you to take control is Section 127 Finance Act 2008 (S127FA08).

You may exceptionally decide to leave the premises after you have started to take control of goods (for example, because you feel it is unsafe to remain). Provided you have not indicated that you are abandoning the action, you may return (accompanied if necessary) as soon as is practical to do so in order to complete it. However, if possible, you should always try to consult your manager before doing so.

Entry without a warrant

You may enter premises and search for and take control of goods where you believe:

  • the debtor usually lives
  • the debtor carries on a trade or business
  • that goods owned, or co-owned, by the debtor are held there.

Restriction on entry of premises

You cannot enter, re-enter or remain on premises where either:

  • the debtor is a child (someone under 16 years of age)
  • a child or vulnerable person are the only persons present in the premises (if necessary, see national guidance for interpretation of vulnerable).

Entry refused

If you are unable to persuade the defaulter to invite you to enter the premises in the normal way or are refused entry, you should contact your manager who will consider whether a personal approach may persuade the defaulter to cooperate or whether another means of enforcing payment would be preferable.

If this personal approach fails and:

  • other means of enforcement are undesirable or impractical
  • you are satisfied that sufficient assets do, beyond doubt, belong to the debtor and are on the premises concerned

you should take advice from your manager on what to do next.

Entry under a warrant

This will be in exceptional circumstances and an application to apply to the court for a warrant should always be authorised by a senior manager of not less than Grade 7 via your manager.

You will need to provide proof to satisfy the court, that:

  • the warrant is required for specific premises
  • it has not been possible to obtain access by persuasion
  • an enforcement power to take control exists (S127 FA08 in all cases)
  • you believe there are sizeable goods on the premises
  • it is reasonable in all circumstances to issue the warrant.

RLS address

Where it is established that the address used for service of the Notice of Enforcement is RLS and in all probability the debtor did not receive the notice, you should:

  • set the RLS signal (RLS procedures remain unchanged)
  • vacate (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) the Fee 1 charge on ETMP.

If a new address cannot be established then the case should be transferred to the Tracing Unit following existing guidance. However, if a new address is supplied which can be confirmed as correct, the address should be amended following the usual process. The case should then be passed to the relevant area, for a personal call at the new address. Even if contact had previously been made, then a fresh Notice of Enforcement should be requested (as the original notice will be deemed not to have been given if the address was RLS at the date of issue).

Note: If, exceptionally, it is established or can be proven that the debtor did receive the Notice of Enforcement (for example, it was correctly sent to the RO address held at Companies House) then Fee 1 will remain payable and enforcement can continue at the new address.