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How to Get a UTR Number from HMRC

Are you self employed in the UK? Want to start paying taxes?

When you start working for yourself, the UK government categorises you as a sole trader. This means you’re self-employed even if you’ve yet to inform the HM Revenue and Customs. Research shows that there are 5 million self-employed people in the UK who contribute £305 billion a year to the national economy.

To start filing returns as a self-employed individual, you need a unique tax reference (UTR) number.

What Is a UTR Number?

A UTR number is a unique number issued by the HMRC and assigned to each self-employed taxpayer for self-assessment returns. As a tax reference number, it’s only issued to those registered for self-assessment returns. The number has 10 digits and usually ends with the letter “K.”

When you’re registered, the UTR is typically quoted on several documents from HMRC, including:

  • Previous self-assessment tax returns
  • Notice of file a tax return
  • Statement of account
  • Your welcome to self-assessment letter or SA250
  • Reminders of payment

The UTR is also available on your self-assessment account on the HMRC website. When you choose to become self-employed, it means:

  • You’re responsible for your own tax calculation
  • You’re not entitled to the same rights as employed persons, such as holiday pay
  • You must declare your earnings when filing tax returns

To inform the HMRC that you’re self-employed, head to the government’s online registration portal. Enter your email address and complete the registration process.

Who Needs a UTR Number?

If you’re in full-time employment, you don’t need to apply for a unique tax reference. HMRC usually deducts taxes automatically from pensions, savings and wages. However, if you’ve a side hustle such as drop shipping and other forms of untaxed income, register with the HMRC. By doing so, you’re able to declare the additional income.

Self-employed persons must register for a UTR number. This is because they must calculate their tax from profits earned and declare their income. To ensure that you fill in your tax returns correctly, it’s recommended that every self-employed person keep records. Such records include bank statements, invoices and others. You can keep these records on paper or digitally.

Students also need a UTR number, especially if they work. The UK government requires everyone who is of tax age to remit taxes to the HMRC and national insurance contributions.

How to Obtain a UTR Number?

There are three ways of getting a UTR number. They include:

  • Register online
  • Apply by post
  • Apply over the phone

Register Online

Head over to the HMRC website, enter your email address, click “Continue”, and complete the questions. Once you do so, HMRC will create your account.

Within 10 days, you’ll receive a letter from the HMRC. In some cases, the HMRC may take up to one month to approve your UTR application and issue you with your tax number.

When you receive your letter, it will contain a unique 10 digit UTR number. You can use the UTR number to file a return. The HMRC will send another letter with an activation code for your personal account. If you don’t receive a second letter, you can get your activation code online. Upon receiving the activation code, you’ve 28 days to activate your account. Otherwise, the activation code will expire.

After activating your account, you can file your tax returns anytime. Always file your returns before the deadline. You can find your UTR number online within the self-assessment section or the top right corner of your account summary.

Apply Post

The HMRC allows self-employed persons to apply for the UTR number via post. To request your UTR number, write to HMRC. Remember, applying via post will likely take longer. This is because several letters will go back and forth, requesting for additional information.

Apply Over the Phone

To apply for your UTR number over the phone, call the self-assessment hotline on 0300 200 3310. Even though you provided the details above and more, the HMRC may direct you to apply online.

Information You Need to Claim a UTR Number

The HMRC will require you to provide the following personal information when requesting for your UTR.

  • Full name
  • Current address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Personal phone number
  • National Insurance number

You must provide details about your business or side hustle.

  • Business phone number
  • Type of business
  • Business address
  • When you started self-employment
  • Location and more

What to Do if You Lose Your UTR Number

If the HMRC has already issued you a UTR number and can’t find it, call the self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310. The HMRC support team will request for your National Insurance number. It’s best that you have the number at hand.

If you submit your self-assessment returns without your UTR, it could result in a fine. The best course of action is to hold the return until the HMRC issues you with your UTR. Filing your returns without a UTR will make it difficult for the HMRC staff to match your returns to your records before the deadline.

What Are UTR Numbers Used For?

The HMRC assigns self-employed persons with a UTR to track their tax obligation. They also use the unique number to match the records to tax payments. If you claim a tax refund, your UTR can help to facilitate the process.

To file a tax refund, fill in form P50. Send the form to HMRC together with parts 2 and 3 of your P45 form. Before filing the forms, contact the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3310, and they will tell you what information to provide.

What Happens if I Use the Wrong UTR Number?

One of the most common mistakes that self-employed persons make when filing tax returns is entering the wrong UTR number. If you enter the wrong UTR number when filing your self-assessment tax returns, it’s possible you could face penalties and fines from the HMRC.

To be safe, double-check your UTR number before submitting your return. If you realise you made a mistake, you can correct your tax return for up to a year after the filing deadline. To correct the mistake, visit the HMRC online portal, and sign in.

If a year goes by without you correcting the mistake, you’ll need to write to HMRC explaining why you need to make changes.

Can I Share My UTR Number?

Your UTR number is highly confidential. You should never share it with other people unless under specific conditions. For example, you’ve hired an agent to file your self-employed tax returns on your behalf.

How Can I Confirm if My UTR Number Is Valid?

There are two methods for checking if your UTR number is valid. The first method is calling the HMRC support on 0300 200 3310. The other method is to visit the .GOV website, sign in to your account and check the right corner of your self-assessment webpage.

UTR numbers are highly confidential and are often used by the HMRC as part of the tax identification and self-assessment process. If you’re a CIS contractor and want to check the validity of your subcontractors UTR, you need to:

  • Use the HMRC CIS online service
  • Use a commercial CIS software

Where Do I Find My Limited Company UTR Number?

Your self employed UTR is different from your limited company UTR. To find your limited company UTR, check on all Corporation Tax letters sent by the HMRC to you. If you’re unable to find your limited company UTR, call the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3410.

What Happens if I Receive Two UTR Numbers?

You cannot get more than one UTR number from the HMRC. This applies to your limited company UTR too. If this happens (which is rare), contact the HMRC quickly. Failure to do so will lead to HMRC thinking there are two separate self-employed people.

If you have two or more UTR numbers, the HMRC will expect more than one tax return from you. If you fail to send both returns before the deadline of submission, HMRC will issue you with an automatic fine. You do have the opportunity to appeal, but since you failed to inform the HMRC about the mistake, they will not squash the charge.

To avoid the penalty and other possible problems, contact the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3310.

Can I Reactivate an Old UTR Number?

If you deregister your UTR but now want to become self-employed again, you need to register again for a new UTR number from the HMRC. If you did not deregister and continued to submit a tax return while fully employed, you don’t need to request a new UTR number. All you need to do is declare your new self employed earnings on your next self-assessment return.

Can I Work Self-Employed Without a UTR Number?

Yes, if you’re self-employed and are working in the construction industry, you can work without your CIS and UTR. But this will affect the amount of tax you’ll pay. Without a UTR and CIS, HMRC will require you to pay 30% tax. However, if you register and activate your UTR and CIS, you’ll pay 20%.

If you don’t have a UTR number, you need to apply for one as soon as possible. Head over to the HMRC website and register to receive your UTR number.

Can I Deregister My Self-Employment?

Yes, you can deregister your self-employment if you decide to go become fully employed. If you’re certain that you want to deregister your self-employment with the HMRC, you can do so online or via phone. If you fail to inform the HMRC, they’ll expect you to continue filing returns every tax year before the deadline. Also, they’ll issue penalties.

To deregister online:

Before deregistering, you must file any outstanding and final tax return online. Pay outstanding tax and national insurance contributions you owe. Also, declare your current self-employment income and pay any tax due.

You can deregister over the phone too. Just call the HMRC on 0300 200 3310. You must have your UTR number and National Insurance Number on hand.