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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

RLS: action by Tracing Group: general

If preliminary checks carried out by the local DMU are unsuccessful, they will refer the case to the National Missing Trader Unit (Tracing Group).

The TRACING GROUP carry out in depth tracing action to locate missing VAT registered customers. Tracing Group will retain the case whilst comprehensive trace action is undertaken.

If Tracing Group are unable to locate the customer, they will take necessary action to update the VAT register (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)  

Tracing action by Tracing Group

The Tracing Group may consult any of the following sources in their efforts to trace a customer:

  • Companies House
  • electoral roll(s)
  • directory enquiries
  • Local Councils, Licensing Authorities
  • trader’s accountant, solicitor or other representative
  • trader’s bank or building society (written application)
  • useful websites (local list held by Tracing Group).

Approaching third parties for contact information

It is not easy to make enquiries of third parties without disclosing confidential material about a customer. Do not make enquiries if the customer is under active investigation or where fraud is indicated, as this may prejudice the investigation or proceedings.

There are circumstances where disclosure by a third party is prohibited, such as by water utility companies under section 206 of the Water Industries Act 1991. Do not contact water utility companies for possible contact information on customers.

Accountants may be approached with a request for possible contact information.

Requests to any third party should be made in writing. For more information on disclosure see the Information Disclosure Guidance Manual which supersedes V1-01 Disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.

Tracing service provided by Tracing Unit Cumbernauld

If Tracing Group are unable to locate a customer’s current whereabouts they will refer to Tracing Unit in Cumbernauld.

Tracing Unit will provide the Tracing Group with:

  • confirmation that no additional contact information is held by them (including the last date of contact with the trader), or
  • details of any additional contact information held on their systems (including last date of contact with the trader) providing any other relevant case-specific information that may assist the Tracing Group in tracing the trader or supporting the case for deregistration (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)