Registration: Conditions which apply to the use of computer records
Conditions applying to the use of computer or other electronic system for the keeping or preservation of records required in the “Tobacco Products Regulations 2001” and Notice 476.
Specific software packages are not endorsed by HM Revenue and Customs. A trader’s obligations regarding stock control, duty payment, etc, are the same whether he has manual or computer systems. Software packages, which have been accepted for use in some warehouses or registered premises, may not be appropriate for use in others.
A trader wishing to use computer records should apply to you in sufficient time to allow HM Revenue and Customs’ requirements to be incorporated into his proposal. The trader must provide details of the system that he intends to adopt. Any existing manual system must be maintained until such time as you permit the use of a computer.
A trader may also apply for permission to use computer-generated versions of official forms (TP7 etc). The application should include specimens of the computer-generated forms.
When approving the use of computer records, you may impose conditions under section 118A of CEMA. You should check with the appropriate Specialist Computer Officer in Audit Services but the conditions will usually require:
- the right of access by HM Revenue and Customs to the computer systems and their documentation (including financial and management systems) in relation to the trader’s business as a revenue trader;
- the provision of any necessary assistance, by the trader, which you may require during audits of the systems;
- the provision of print facilities for the information accessed;
- the inclusion of the computer system in the trader’s annual audit (and the auditor’s report being made available to HM Revenue and Customs);
- adequate security, fallback and recovery systems; and
- advance notice, by the trader, of any proposed changes to the system. (Such changes must not be introduced without official approval.)
You may refuse to allow the use of computer records if the trader fails to comply with these requirements. Your final sanction would be a refusal to register or revoke the registration of the premises concerned.
The trader must ensure that safeguards exist to protect his system from inadvertent corruption whilst being viewed as part of a control/audit visit by HM Revenue and Customs. You should suggest that the trader:
- provide a terminal for official use which is capable only of accessing the system and displaying information on the VDU; and
- allocate a unique password for HM Revenue and Customs use that will allow you to access the system on a ‘read only’ basis.