If you do not pay we'll send you 2 reminders, and if you still do not pay we'll take you to court.


If you do not pay your business rates on time we'll send you a reminder notice.

If you pay within 14 days nothing else will happen.

If you do not pay within 14 days, we'll send you another reminder.

If you do not pay within 14 days of the second reminder notice and do not contact us, you'll need to pay all your business rates in one go.

If you pay by the date requested on the reminder but miss another payment in the same year, we'll send you another reminder notice.

You'll get a maximum of 2 reminder notices in a year.

If you miss a third payment and do not contact us, we'll send you a final notice and you'll have to pay the whole year's business rates in one go.

If you cannot pay, you may be able to get some help.

If you think you've been charged wrongly, call 0117 922 3300 or email us at business.rates@bristol.gov.uk. But do not just ignore the issue.

Summons and court hearing

If you do not pay, or you do not tell us why you're not liable to pay,  you'll be sent a summons. You'll be summoned to court to explain why you have not paid your business rates.

Costs of up to £142 will be added to the unpaid business rates bill:

  • £106.50 must be paid when the summons is issued
  • an additional £35.50 will only need to be paid if the debt, including the £106.50, is not paid in full before the hearing and a liability order is made

You can avoid court if you:

  • pay the full amount shown on the summons, including court costs, before the date of the hearing
  • contact us before the court hearing to arrange a payment plan covering what you owe (we'll still ask the magistrate to issue a liability order)

Liability order

At the hearing we'll ask the magistrate to issue a liability order, which gives us more powers to collect the money you owe.

Liability hearings happen remotely on the phone. You cannot contest a liability order in person.

If you want to contest a liability order, email business.rates@bristol.gov.uk. We'll:

  • tell the court what you tell us in your email
  • pause your case
  • arrange a new hearing date and time where you'll be able to explain your case to the magistrate

The new hearing will also happen on the phone.

If we get the liability order, we'll pass the debt to our enforcement agents (or bailiffs) to collect the money you owe. This will mean you'll incur more costs. Some of your business's possessions could be taken away.

If the enforcement agents do not succeed, we can apply to the Magistrates Court to begin proceedings to make you bankrupt or liquidate your company. Again, this will mean more costs for you.