HMRC Field Force Visits

If your business owes money to HMRC, you may receive a field force visit from enforcement officers in pursuit of payment.

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How we can help with HMRC field force visits

✓ Explore business rescue solutions that can resolve HMRC debts

✓ Discuss how Time to Pay Arrangements can prevent field force visits

✓ Relieve the stress of business debts by planning a way forward for your company

✓ Explain how to deal with a field force visit and what you should expect

HMRC Field Force Visits

What Is An HMRC Field Force Visit?

If you owe business taxes to HMRC that you have not paid, and you have not made any arrangement to settle the debt, you may be visited by an HMRC enforcement officer on a field force visit.

Typically, HMRC will begin by chasing payment in writing or over the phone. If you ignore these communications, the tax authority may send enforcement officers to your business’ premises as an alternative way to chase or collect the payment and resolve the debt. Officers will usually try to avoid taking enforcement action, and will instead try to take payment on the spot or implement a Time to Pay Arrangement. This will establish a set period of time over which you can pay off the debt in instalments, and this is often a good way to resolve HMRC debts.

A field force visit will usually happen without notice. As a result, if you are struggling to pay HMRC the money you owe, it is important to understand how a visit from an enforcement officer might unfold and what you should expect. While it is best to respond to HMRC correspondence and make arrangements to clear the debt, understanding the tax authority’s powers and your rights during a field force visit will help you to prepare for this possibility.

If you are struggling to pay business debts to HMRC or other creditors, there may be company rescue solutions that can help. These may include Time to Pay Arrangements or other agreements that allow you to pay in instalments. Alternatively, you may be able to make changes to your organisation that will improve cash flow and enable you to pay.

For bespoke guidance on the best ways for your business to move forwards, contact the experts at Company Insolvency Advice today. We have years of experience in guiding businesses through financial difficulties, and we can confidentially discuss your circumstances to identify the company rescue routes available to you. Call us on 0800 999 0666 or use our online enquiry form to request a call back.

Why Do HMRC Field Force Visits Happen?

HMRC uses field force visits as a way to chase payment of a debt, but only when it is necessary for the tax authority to escalate your case. Initially, HMRC will chase payment over the phone or in writing, which can give you an opportunity to agree a Time to Pay Arrangement or otherwise manage and resolve the debt. Field force visits will only become necessary if you ignore these earlier communications and do not pay.

Following a field force visit – or beforehand, in certain cases – you may be served with an enforcement notice. This may be delivered by an HMRC enforcement officer, or arrive through the post or by fax. It indicates that HMRC has escalated your case and intends to do whatever is necessary to get you to pay – this can have serious consequences for your business unless you are able to resolve the debt.

As soon as it becomes clear that your business will not be able to pay its debts to HMRC or any other creditor, you should work proactively to resolve this situation. The sooner you act, the better your chances of improving your cash flow and restoring your business to a better financial standing.

What Does An HMRC Enforcement Officer Have The Right To Do?


An HMRC enforcement officer will carry an identity card on a field force visit to identify them as a representative of the tax authority. They may work for a private company that has been contracted by HMRC, but they must have an HMRC enforcement officer ID in order to legally conduct a field force visit.

Licensed HMRC enforcement officers may have the right to force entry into commercial premises, but only if they have been authorised by a Justice of the Peace. If premises are partly or fully residential, their entry rights are limited to the normal routes. Access may also be limited depending on the type of debt they are collecting and whether children live in the property.


Normally, a creditor would need a court order in order to seize control of a debtor’s property in order to satisfy a debt. However, HMRC has unique powers that allow them to arrive at business premises unannounced, without a court order, in order to start the process of seizing business assets to repay debts.

Enforcement officers cannot simply turn up to your property unannounced and begin removing property immediately. They must allow you seven days to pay the debt from the moment the enforcement notice is delivered. At this stage, enforcement officers can make a Control of Goods Agreement, which includes a list of assets owned by your company that can be seized and sold at a public auction in order to satisfy the debt

You will be asked to sign the agreement, at which point you will have a further seven-day period to pay the debt before HMRC can start to seize any goods. During this period, HMRC controls any assets identified in the Control of Goods Agreement and you have no right to sell or move any of these goods included in the agreement – to do so would constitute a criminal offence under these circumstances.

If you refuse to sign the agreement, the enforcement officer can arrange for goods to be removed from the premises immediately.

Seizure of goods

If you do not satisfy your HMRC debt within the seven day period after you have signed the Control of Goods Agreement, HMRC enforcement officers may enter your business’ premises in order to remove any goods included in the agreement. You have no right to refuse access, and if you try to do so, officers can call the police for support in carrying out their duties.

HMRC enforcement officers have the authority to seize goods with equivalent value to the combined value of the debt and the cost of enforcement. Goods sold at public auction may fail to command their full market value, and enforcement officers may take more assets from your premises, exceeding the value of the debt, in order to account for a potential shortfall in the price they achieve.

During enforcement proceedings, HMRC officers can only take goods that are owned by the business. Items that belong to a third party, or those that are subject to hire purchase or lease agreements (usually vehicles), cannot be taken to cover a debt.

If you have any questions about the rights HMRC enforcement officers can exercise, or your rights as a business owner, contact the team at Company Insolvency Advice. We have many years of experience in dealing with HMRC field force visits and guiding businesses through enforcement proceedings, so we can give you advice that will help to support your business.

How Can I Avoid A HMRC Field Force Visit?

If you have received an enforcement notice or you are facing the prospect of an HMRC field force visit, contact us as soon as possible. We can discuss your financial circumstances in confidence, advise you on ways that you may be able to resolve your debt, and explain company rescue solutions that may be suitable for your business.

It is always better to be proactive in resolving corporate debt matters. If you ignore communications from HMRC, there can be serious consequences for your business. However, if you work with the experts at Company Insolvency Advice, we can guide you towards solutions that will remove the risk of creditors taking enforcement action against you and help return your business to its former financial position.

This means that we can not only help you to negotiate a Time to Pay Arrangement with HMRC, but can advise you on structural or procedural changes you can make within your business that will improve its cash flow and financial performance. Call us today on 0800 999 0666 or use our online enquiry form to request a call back, and learn how we can help you.


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Business Advice Expert

Robert Cooksey

Robert Cooksey

Director Advice Line: 0800 999 0666

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