A step-by-step guide to getting a UTR number in the UK, how you can apply for one and what it means once you have it.
Table of Contents
- 1. What is a UTR Number
- 2. Who Needs to Apply for a UTR number?
- 3. How to Get a UTR Number?
- 4. How Long Does Registration Take?
- 5. What Happens Once You Are Registered With HMRC
- 6. FAQs
If you are setting up a business and have, or are planning to, form a Limited Company your LTD will have its own UTR number for corporation tax. But as a Limited Company director, you’ll need to fill in a tax return online so will still need a personal UTR number.
[This is part of the Understanding Self Employment Series]
I’ve updated this post on 16 November 2020 for changes in latest legislation
1. What is a UTR number?
UTR stands for ‘Unique Taxpayer Reference‘ and it is a 10 digit number that HMRC issues to UK individuals who work for themselves or receive taxable income that they need to declare such as rental income or dividends. Your number is totally unique to you, just like your passport number or national insurance number.
Who Needs to Apply for a UTR Number?
You need to register for a UK UTR number so HMRC can identify who you are along with details about your income and tax returns, it’s a bit like a national insurance number that tells the government how much you have contributed and your entitlement to things like the state pension.
If you are in full-time employment you do not need to apply for a UTR number because your employer will be handling all your taxes on your behalf. However, if you receive other forms of untaxed income like from a side-hustle then you may need to register with HMRC to declare that additional income.
Students may also need a UTR number that’s because everyone who works is subject to the rules of paying tax regardless of age or whether they are in education or not. However, you only start paying national insurance once you are over the age of 16.
A UTR and CIS number are different so if you going to work in the construction industry you going to need to apply for a UTR number as well as registering for the construction industry scheme – once registered for both you will get your CIS card.
2. How to Get a UTR Number Online
The quickest way to get a UTR number is to complete the application form online on the HMRC website, but you can also apply by phone (see below). Before you start the HMRC registration make sure you have your national insurance number handy. You’ll then need to complete the following steps:
- Visit the HMRC website and choose the option to “Register Online”;
- Set up your HMRC online account so you can manage your taxes online;
- Enrol for self-assessment online;
- Wait for your UTR number to be posted to you (can take up to 10 days)
- Wait for your activation code so you can complete setup of your HMRC online account.
2.1 Visit the HMRC Website
Head over to the HMRC website to get started with their registration service.
2.2 Create HMRC Online Account
Next, you’ll need to create an HMRC online account called “Government Gateway Account” which is where you can check on your taxes, get messages from HMRC and fill in your tax return online.
To get set up you’ll need to start by entering a valid email address, which you’ll need to confirm to complete your UTR application so make sure you have access to it.
You’ll be emailed a code. Enter the code to continue with the application.
Once entered correctly, you will receive the message “Email address confirmed”.
Continue with your application by entering your full name and press continue.
Once you have set up your HMRC online account, you’ll be issued with a User ID (12 digit number) and be asked to set up a password. Keep a note of your user ID and password, they are essential for getting your UTR and filing your tax return online.
2.3 Enrol for Self-Assessment Online
Once you have set up your government gateway account, you’ll need to let HMRC know more details about you so they can send you a UTR number.
You’ll need to provide information about yourself including:
- Personal details
- Date of birth
- National insurance number
- The date you went or are planning to go self-employed
2.4 Wait for your UTR number to be posted to you
Your UTR will be posted out to you. There is no such thing as an emergency UTR or temporary code, unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for HMRC to complete your application to get your number.
2.5 Wait for your activation code so you can complete setup of your HMRC online account
You need to enter your activation code so you can complete setup of your .GOV self assessment account. This is really important, because you won’t be able to file your tax return online if you can’t get into the account, meaning you may face self-assessment penalties starting at £100. Your activation code expires, so make sure you enter it as soon as you receive it.
3. How to Get a UTR Number by Phone
You can phone HMRC on 0300 200 3310 to apply for your UTR number.
Again, you’ll need to have your national insurance number ready and they will ask for various information to get you set up.
4. How Long Does Registration Take?
It can take anything from one week up to one month for HMRC to approve your UTR application and issue your tax number but it all depends on how busy they are. If you are concerned your application is being dealt with quickly, then call HMRC on 0300 200 3310 to check the status. They’ll also be able to give you an estimate of how long it will take to be issued.
5. What Happens Once You Are Registered With HMRC
Once registered with HMRC you’ll be registered for self assessment and need to fill in a tax return once a year, by 31 January, and working out your taxes. You’ll also be responsible for keeping records of your income and expenses, known as bookkeeping and tax-records as evidence of what you have declared to HMRC on your tax return. In addition to declaring your income on a tax return, you’ll also need to pay any tax you owe by the 31 January and 31 July every year.
How Do I Cancel My UTR?
To cancel a UTR number you’ll need to de-register for self-assessment, complete tax returns covering the period until you stopped working for yourself and pay any outstanding tax.
Do I need to Include my UTR on my Invoice?
How to Get a Temporary UTR Number
Unlike payroll where there are emergency tax codes, there is no such thing as a temporary UTR number. The online application system means that it would take just as long to receive a temporary one as a permanent one as well as resulting in a lot of confusion for HMRC.
[This is part of the Understanding Self Employment Series]