Unannounced visits will be used to tackle the black economy and where serious fraud is suspected.  HMRC will consider making an unannounced visit where:-

  • Business taxpayers have repeatedly missed appointments OR
  • Deliberate understatement will only be evidenced if the visit is unannounced, for example:-


  • Failure to register for VAT
  • Failing to operate PAYE on illicit, cash workers
  • Suppressing cash takings, e.g. by operating a second till
  • Trading in a second, off-book activity
  • Missing trader VAT and Labour Provider fraud cases
  • There is a risk that the business may have been established to facilitate fraudulent tax repayments.

An Authorised Officer must approve an unannounced visit and they should only give their approval if it is the only way of establishing the correct tax position.  Otherwise, HMRC’s actions would not have been reasonable and proportionate.

Unannounced visits are frequently made by Missing Trader, Hidden Economy and Labour Provider teams.  Where it is anticipated that the inspection will be obstructed, HMRC will seek approval for the visit from the Tribunal so that the taxpayer can be penalised for any obstruction.

As with announced visits, unannounced visits must be made at a reasonable time and the occupier of the premises must be given written notice of the inspection, together with the Fact Sheet on unannounced visits.  The officer will then explain the reason for the visit and how they intend to carry it out.

If the taxpayer is present the officer must advise them of their right to ask their agent to be present but need not delay the start of the inspection to await their arrival.

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