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HMRC internal manual

VAT Small and Medium Enterprises Assurance Manual

Introduction to Assurance: overseas visits: general

Visits may be to a UK VAT registered person who;

  • does not have a business establishment in the UK (a non- established taxable person (NETP); or
  • has an accounting centre in another Member State; or
  • is also registered for VAT in other EC Member States.

It should be made clear that any visit would be exceptional and at the trader’s expense, and that we reserve the right to require production of the records in the UK in future Finance Act 2008 Sch36 Part 1. One officer will normally conduct the visit, but if this includes computer classification and system audit work, in addition to verification, a member of the Audit Service may also be required.

Consideration should also be given to the verification of EC Sales Lists and INTRASTAT declarations. It should also be noted that INTRASTAT does not always come under the control of a Customs department in other EC countries.

If you consider it necessary to make a visit to a trader’s overseas premises, you will need to obtain approval at Grade 7. You should then report the full facts to LC Scotland - VAT Management NEPTU Team, Aberdeen Office, who will seek permission from the relevant fiscal authority. No travel arrangements must be made before fiscal approval has been granted. Checks must be restricted to the records of the UK trader only.

If your visit is at the request of the trader, and you will only be looking at the records of a UK VAT registered business that would normally be available to you in the UK, you can conduct visits in other EC Member States (MS) provided that all of the following conditions are met:

  • you obtain prior written approval from your SO (LC) or G7 (LBS);
  • you have approval from the relevant fiscal authorities, via the Non-established Taxable Persons Unit (NETPU), who are the central point of contact for this activity;
  • you have satisfied all other documentary requirements, as per the NETPU guidance;
  • full name and address details for the UK trader and the overseas premises to be visited (VISION/VIES name and address prints where appropriate);
  • the reason(s) for the visit, details of the records to be examined and an indication of whether an interpreter will be required;
  • a letter from the UK trader requesting a visit to their overseas premises;
  • the UK trader’s written undertaking to pay the full cost of the officers travel and subsistence;
  • the name(s) of the officer(s) prepared to carry out the visit, and the (proposed) date, if known;
  • on the visit officers should carry ID and a “Letter of Authority” on HMRC headed paper signed, at least, at SO manager level, confirming they are officers of the Crown, stating the position they hold in the Department, and that they have been invited to do an audit by the overseas company; and
  • make yourself aware of Health & Safety (Leaflet T5), passport and visa requirements.

In the above circumstances you do not need to be accompanied by an official of the host Member State.

If during your visit you inadvertently find information that could be relevant to the host MS (for example if the trader is engaged in business activities and registered for VAT in another MS and you find information that might affect the correct assessment of tax in the host MS) you must advise the trader that you are obliged to disclose it under Regulation 904/2010, Article 19 spontaneous exchange of information.