This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

VAT Fraud

Contrivance: The goods and services: Specification of goods

For goods that are not manufactured in the UK the fact that they are not UK specification makes it surprising that they have entered the UK market and should indicate to the taxable person that there is something irregular about the transactions.


By law (Plugs and Sockets etc (Safety) Regulations 1994 (SI 1994/1768)) certain electrical items in the UK, including mobile phones, are sold with three pin chargers (or an appropriate fitted adaptor). The fact that the goods might have two pin chargers should indicate that they were brought into the UK and that they are unlikely to stay in the UK as without adaptation they would be of no use. Whilst it may be possible to interchange chargers this would add to the customer’s costs. These indicators, along with the fact that the goods were then dispatched or exported, calls into question the commercial justification for their acquisition into the UK in the first place, and lends weight to the suggestion that they were part of a contrived scheme to defraud the public revenue.

Other aspects to consider

Other aspects to consider include:

  • whether the specification of the goods appeared on the orders, invoices and/or inspection reports;
  • how detailed the specifications recorded on invoices and/or order documentation were and whether this level of detail would be sufficient for the purchaser to be assured of precisely what they were buying;
  • whether the goods were suitable for use in the country to which they were being dispatched/exported.

The above list is not exhaustive.