Know Your Rights: Powers of Entry

Where immigration officers enter a business premises, they must provide a ‘Notice to Occupier’ explaining the powers being used to enter and search the property.  

The powers that enable officers to enter and/or search a premises are as follows: 


1. Informed consent  

Officers may lawfully enter and search a premises without a warrant if the occupier signs a consent form.  The occupier must fully understand the consent form before signing it, and know that they have the right to refuse consent by not signing the form.   

If consent is refused, officers must leave the premises immediately.  If consent is agreed, a copy of the form should be kept safe.  The consent can be withdrawn at any point during the search unless an arrest has been made or a separate power is being exercised.  


2. Search warrant 

The officers may lawfully enter the named address and conduct a search for items or individuals.  The officers must show and serve the search warrant to the occupier on entry.  The warrant is valid for three months from the date of issue.  The search must be terminated once the item or person has been identified and officers should then leave the premises.  


3. Licensing Act Powers 

The licensing act powers enables officers to enter a premises, it does not enable officers to conduct a search.  Any search of the premises should be conducted under a separate power or with the occupiers consent – see informed consent.  This power may only be exercised in relation to premises licensed for (or believed to be used for) the sale by retail of alcohol or the provision of late night refreshments.   


4. Assistant Directors (AD) letter 

This power allows officers to enter and search a business premises without a warrant within seven days of the authorisation.  Officers must show their warrant card to identify themselves.  Officers may have been granted permission over the phone or radio, so written authority may not be available.  However, the ‘Notice to Occupier’ should explain the powers being used to enter and search the premises – keep a copy safe.  This power cannot be used as an alternative if a warrant has been refused.