All businesses must keep and preserve certain records and accounts and be able to present these upon request to HMRC

Customs, excise and VAT are known as the indirect tax pillars, so when goods are moved, stored and sold HMRC are able to see record-keeping evidence in support of every stage of the transaction and movement. This is what is called a ‘full visible audit trail’.

There are no rules on how you must keep records. You can keep them on paper, digitally or using programs such as book-keeping software – you just need to ensure you have an efficient process in place.

The benefits of effective records management are as follows:

  • protecting your business-critical records and improving business resilience
  • making sure your information can be found and retrieved quickly and efficiently
  • complying with legal and regulatory requirements
  • reducing risk for litigation, audit and government investigations
  • minimising storage requirements and reducing costs

HMRC are also able to provide reports for businesses, so you can undertake reconciliation exercises. For example, you can request Customs Declaration Service data for imports and exports activities so that you are able to cross check with your own business records. 

Further guidance on data protection and best practice for archiving documents can be found on GOV.UK.

Scroll to Top