You have the right to visit or view privately owned heritage assets that have had a tax exemption. This can include land, buildings, the collections within them, and works of art. Owners agree to give access in return for the tax exemption. The agreement with the owner is referred to as the undertakings.
On this page:
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) keeps a database of tax-exempt heritage assets. The database gives details of assets exempt from Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax and how you can see them.
If anything is missing or incorrect on the database of tax-exempt heritage assets please contact HMRC Trusts and Estates
You can also obtain details of access to specific works of art.
You can get further details on access dates from the:
These are normally open to the public on a set number of days each year. Opening times and directions are given on the database. You don't necessarily have to make an appointment to view these buildings and collections.
Sometimes the items in a collection are listed individually under the works of art database entry. If not, you can get a list of items in the collection from the contact point. There may be a list on display with the items. Unless you have to make an appointment to access a collection, the collection database entry will show where and when you can see them.
You can usually visit tax-exempt land all year round, but access may be restricted at certain times for land management purposes.
Access to land is not unlimited and depends on the terms agreed with the owner. The terms are also available to you. Under these terms, access to special areas such as those for the conservation of wildlife or plants, may be greatly restricted or even prohibited.
If you have to make an appointment to view a conditionally exempt item you can get further information and arrange to view the item through the contact point.
The contact may be the owner or another person nominated by the owner - for example, a solicitor. The contact will not always be in the same county as the conditionally exempt item.
These may be on display in historic houses open to the public on a set number of days, or in museums and galleries and can be visited without having to make an appointment. As some items were exempted years ago you will often have to make an appointment to access them.
If you have to make an appointment to access items, they are generally of more limited interest or are similar to items already available in public collections. They may also be available for loan to special exhibitions so that they can be seen alongside other fine works.
You will find details about accessing each item listed on the database. A contact name and number is given for each item. The contact may be the owner or someone else nominated by the owner - for example, a solicitor.The contact will not necessarily be in the same county as the item.
The entry for each individual work of art tells you how and, if appropriate, when you can see them. For security reasons, the precise location is not always shown. The contact can tell you where the items can be seen and, if appropriate, arrange an appointment to see them. The link from individual entries shows other exempt items. If they are in the same location, you may be able to view them at the same time when you visit. You can ask to see individual items, a range of linked items or all of them.
The contact point should arrange the appointment when you contact them. If not, they should do it as soon as is reasonably practical. If you phone for an appointment the contact should not ask you to make the request in writing. However, once the details of the appointment have been agreed, the contact can ask you to confirm them in writing.
The owner does not have to give you access to the item where it is normally kept. They can show it to you somewhere else if you both agree. The owner does not have to be present, but the location chosen must be reasonable. When you want to see more than one item or a whole collection it should, if reasonably possible, be available for you to see it in one visit.
When you can only view by appointment, owners should normally allow you:
Or, you can agree an alternative arrangement with the owner.
If the appointment is at the owner's home, they can ask for identification to prove that you are the person who made the appointment. The owner or their agent should not ask for references.
HMRC regularly monitor the access details on the database but things can go wrong. A painting might have been loaned to a public collection or be with conservators and therefore unavailable. Or it might have been moved to another part of the country before the database is amended.
You should check that the item(s) or building is available when you want to visit. Please remember that the database is not necessarily incorrect if the entry for a work of art shows it to be in one county and the contact address in another. The county shown is where the item is available for viewing but the agent who arranges the visit may be in another part of the country.
For exempt works of art displayed in museums, galleries and historic houses, the normal terms for these attractions apply. For exempt buildings, their grounds, and other works of art, a reasonable charge may be made. Some land is available to the public all year round, such as by public footpaths - therefore no charge is made.
You can only take photographs if the owner gives you permission.
If you are not allowed to see something listed on the database or you cannot get in touch with the contact follow the link below.
For detailed guidance on accessing tax-exempt heritage assets follow the link below.