Lost client authorisation letters

What proportion of client authorisation letters never arrive?

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I don't know who has the contract for delivering HMRC's authorisation code letters that are sent to clients when agents request authorisation but in my recent experience about one third never arrive at the clients' address - and I have no reason to disbelieve clients when they say that  they didn't receive a code (in fact typically three client authorisation codes are requested at once and only two arrive).

The HMRC portal says the client authorisation code has been issued so one must assume the computer generates a letter which is then picked up by the postal contractor. Does the postal contractor throw a third of them in the bin and deliver the others?

Anyone else find a high proprtion of these authorisation code letters never arrive and you have to do a repeat request? And who is HMRC's postal contractor?

Replies (13)

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By SkyBlue22
18th Apr 2024 12:12

I've not heard of any being lost recently, but some are taking 2-3 weeks to make it to clients.

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By rmillaree
18th Apr 2024 13:03

i suspect the clients are the weak link here - for our more reliable clients they rarery go missing under normal circumstances and for our less reliable clients they never turn up - go figure.

Thats not to say hmrc may have some poor periods - genrally though its not normally an issue.

Note for things like sa it can be done immediately via their gateway (cant remember if utr needs to exist) - so there are other options here.

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Replying to rmillaree:
By Dougscott
18th Apr 2024 13:15

Could be your prejudice of course.

As I said I have requested different authorisations for the same client at the same time (SA, CT, PAYE) and they haven't all turned up - twice this has happened now. So the client in each case has not received one of the letters.

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By K81
18th Apr 2024 13:13

we rarely get them not received by clients - frequently get them provided to us after the expiry date but this may be the client.

As far as I am aware the letters are printed at HMRC offices and posted through Royal Mail (that may be the problem!)

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By mumpin
18th Apr 2024 13:18

I would say I have a 95% success rate.
Other 5% is due to flakey clients who either don't open brown envelopes or don't tell HMRC they have moved.

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By Roland195
18th Apr 2024 13:57

If the code is successfully generated in the first place, I believe it generally does then make to the address that HMRC have and would agree that in most cases the fault will be at the client's end.

The time frame varies significantly though, even between the different taxes. I'd expect that ones that go missing are the ones that arrive out with an expected period so the client doesn't assign the importance (they could of course read it to be fair).

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By Leywood
18th Apr 2024 14:12

I’ve had this happen occasionally, mostly a client issue. I had a pile of post from one client which included several such letters which they had previously denied getting. They were still sealed in their envelopes. Many clients have an aversion to opening brown envelopes!!

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By Truthsayer
19th Apr 2024 10:02

'I have no reason to disbelieve clients when they say that they didn't receive a code'

Are you really that naive? Almost every instance of a client 'not receiving' such a letter is the client not opening it or not recognising it. Why do you think that HMRC letters addressed to us almost always arrive, whereas ones addressed to sloppy clients often 'fail to arrive'?

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By JS23
23rd Apr 2024 09:35

Yes its a common issues, we have noted and experienced the same. Most of the time its like a lottery.. some come through.. some needs to be requested multiple times and some never turn-up whatever you do.

Best is to ask client to log in on their GG and add you via there, much easier and quicker.

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By wyoming
23rd Apr 2024 10:10

Wouldn't say as many as a third "go astray" - would put it at more like 10%-15% and I suspect most of those are down to the clients. That sad, I have had some cases where the client is very diligent/reliable (and has immediately forwarded the code on the subsequent reapplication) so I'm sure some letters don't make it to their destination.

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By Retrocanary
23rd Apr 2024 10:57

This is a frequent problem. Not sure why this has to be an either/or. I'm sure it's lethal combination of HMRC incompetence, poor royal mail realiability and clients who don't even bother reading the letter when it arrives. One client uses a different company for their registered office, so that adds a fourth layer of inenptitude.

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By Yossarian
23rd Apr 2024 12:19

Not many seem to go missing here (rural Lincs). A 'friend of a friend' who was a Royal Mail manager some years ago said that poorer and/or rural areas tended to have a more reliable postal service, and fewer items went missing. The reason being that in areas with few employment opportunities, being a postie is a relatively sought-after job, so Royal Mail can pick and choose who they employ, and those people tend to stick at it.

Conversely in larger cities and wealthier areas nobody wants to do it, so those who end up as posties tend to be people who are desperate for money, and sometimes virtually unemployable at anything else. Some would stick it out for a few weeks, then dump their mail bag in a bin and were never heard from again. Apparently your greatest chance of an item going missing in the post was if it went via cities such as London, Birmingham or Manchester.

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By kevinringer
03rd May 2024 12:03

A lot of mine go missing. They fall into 3 categories:

1. SA codes for clients who have elected to communicate with HMRC in Welsh. It turns out HMRC has been using their Welsh language tax office address as the correspondence address for the client. HMRC do this so that all correspondence is delivered to the Welsh language HMRC office who then translate and send the now translated Welsh language document to the client. Crazy, but HMRC have confirmed on the Agent Forum this is true. Anyway, the SA codes go to the Welsh language tax office who don't forward them to the client. The only workaround is to send a paper 64-8.

2. CIS contractor authorisations. These are reliable clients, some are quite large. I've not got to the bottom of this problem.

3. Unreliable clients.

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