VAT visits and inspections

VAT officers can visit your business to inspect your VAT records (known as compliance checks) and make sure you’re paying or reclaiming the right amount of VAT.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) usually contact you to arrange a visit.

They normally give you 7 days’ notice. They’ll confirm what information they’ll want to see, how long it’s likely to take and if they want to inspect your premises. You can ask them to delay the visit.

HMRC can also visit without an appointment and call you about your VAT.

Check if a call is genuine

HMRC will already have your name and your business’s name when they call. They will not ask you for any personal information, like your bank details.

You can phone the VAT helpline to check if a call is from HMRC.

How often checks happen

How often you get a visit depends on:

  • how big or complex your business is
  • whether you’ve submitted late or incorrect VAT Returns before

During the visit

HMRC will work with you to put right any problems with your VAT. They’ll also tell you about any additional tax and penalty you have to pay.

Helping them with the check will reduce the amount of any penalty.

After the visit

Afterwards, HMRC will write to you confirming:

  • what you must do to improve your VAT record keeping
  • any corrections you must make to your VAT account
  • if you’re overpaying or underpaying your VAT
  • any penalty you have to pay

You can appeal an HMRC decision but you must do it within 30 days.

Further help and support

Find out about why compliance checks are done, the help and support you can get and penalties.