How Do I Apply for Self Employment?


You can apply for self employment yourself, its a really straightforward process. You need to complete a form online to apply but the form you use depends on whether you have sent in a self assessment tax return before.

How to Apply for Self Employment if you have not submitted a Tax Return before

You can apply for self employment online HERE. You need to fill out the form giving information about yourself (including your NI number), your business and when you went into business.

As part of the process you’ll be asked to register for a Government Gateway Account.  A government gateway is your HMRC online account where you get:

  • notifications & reminders from HMRC;
  • messages from HMRC;
  • access to file your self assessment tax return online.

Everyone needs to file their self assessment tax return online expect in really special circumstances.  So make sure you hold onto your Government Gateway login and password safely.

The process to apply for self employment can take up to 7 -10 days. An activation code will be posted to you which completes the process. It is advisable you apply for self employments as soon as possible. That way you will be ready to submit your first personal tax return by 31 January and avoid penalties.

Once you successfully apply for self employment you’ll be sent a UTR (‘Unique Tax Payers Reference’) Number by post.  This is a 10 digit number unique to you and is important so keep it safe.

How to Apply for Self Employment if you have Submitted a Personal Tax Return Previously

If you already submit a self assessment tax return for another reason then you need to complete a CWF1. Again you can do this online here. You’ll need to provide details about your self employment and you’ll need your UTR number too. Here’s how you can find your UTR number online.

The Deadline To Apply for Self Employment

You need to apply for self employment by 5th October in your business’s second tax year. 

So if you earned income through self employment during the tax year 2016/2017 (6 April 2016 to 5 April 2017) then you need to apply for self employment by 5th October 2017.

There are penalties for missing this deadline, which can be up to 30% of your tax liability.

What Happens Once Your Successfully Apply for Self Employment

When you are officially self employed you’ll need to complete a self assessment tax return.  A self assessment tax return form is due by 31 January each each, along with any tax due.

Find out more about the Self Assessment Tax Return Form, what it looks like and how to fill it in HERE.

Do I Have to File a Tax Return Even If I Made No Money?