What is a UTR number and how do I get one?

HMRC_Self_Assessment_tax_return - GoSimpleTax

Everyone submitting a Self Assessment tax return has their own Unique Taxpayer Reference number – more commonly known as a “UTR number”.

These UTR numbers help HMRC process tax returns at a more efficient, effective and accurate rate, ensuring everyone pays what they owe and receives any money back that they might be entitled to.

Here, we answer some of the most common questions surrounding UTR numbers, including “what is a UTR number and how do I get one?”, and tell you everything you need to know about finding and using your own UTR number.


What is a UTR number?

A UTR number is a 10-digit number completely unique to each and every UK taxpayer. Whether the taxpayer is to register for self-employment or is an individual or part of a partnership or company, a UTR number is needed to file a Self Assessment tax return online or via post.

It’s commonly referred to as a ‘tax reference’ should you struggle to find it. 

Where can I find my UTR number?

If you haven’t yet registered as self-employed, you’ll need to do this first as this is the trigger for HMRC to send you a UTR (unless you already have one).

If you already have a UTR but you’ve lost it, don’t panic. There are plenty of ways to retrieve it before you need to contact HMRC. Start by searching for any previous tax returns or notices to file a return. You can always find the reference in your HMRC online account too.

Other locations typically include:

  • Your initial ‘Welcome to Self Assessment’ letter (SA250)
  • Your Self Assessment tax return
  • Any payment reminders
  • Your statement of account

If for some reason these documents don’t display your HMRC UTR number, or you can’t find it in your online account, contact the Self Assessment helpline. HMRC’s team are best placed to locate this information ahead of Self Assessment tax returns.

It may be the case that you haven’t fully completed registration if you haven’t received a UTR number.

Registering for a UTR number

If you are looking to apply for a UTR number, you’ll need to register with HMRC. Once you register as self-employed, you’re automatically assigned a UTR code. You can apply for a UTR number on HMRC’s website or alternatively call them on 0300 200 3310 and ask directly.

Remember, you are expected to register within three months of commencing self-employment. Failure to do so could result in you receiving a fine, so be sure to register promptly with all necessary information at your side to streamline the process. 

What information do I need to register for a UTR number?

Once you’ve ascertained how to get a UTR number, you need to be sure that you have the following information to hand before starting the process:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Home address
  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • Phone number
  • The date you started being self-employed

 All items in the list are relevant to the registration process and will significantly reduce the time it takes to authenticate your account.

Why do I need a UTR number?

The main reason for needing a UTR is to file your Self Assessment tax return. In some cases, not acting compliantly when it comes to your Self Assessment tax return or your UTR number can result in you being subject to heavy fines and criminal prosecution.

You’ll also need your UTR number to complete your Self Assessment tax return, your CIS registration, and if you plan on having your finances handled by an accountant.

Got your UTR code? It’s time to hone the Self Assessment tax return process itself. What’s important is that you don’t leave your submission until the last minute; it can be stressful having to locate all the necessary documentation and receipts.

However, with a software solution like GoSimpleTax, filing your tax return becomes a breeze. You’re able to take pictures of expenditure as it occurs and stop deadlines from creeping up on you. You could even reduce your tax liability by recognising areas where you’re not claiming for expenses properly.

What is a company UTR number?

If you’ve set up a limited company, you’ll need a UTR number for the business. This is so that HMRC can identify which companies owe what in terms of tax.

Like a personal UTR, a company UTR is 10 digits long and will be issued to you when you register your limited company.

Be sure to keep this number on file, as you will need it for a variety of tax purposes in the future, including business taxes, tax returns, and corporation tax.

Last updated on 22nd March 2019.

How to get a UTR Number

How to apply for a UTR number with GoSimpleTax

A UTR number is a 10-digit number completely unique to each and every UK taxpayer. Whether the taxpayer is to register for self-employment or is an individual or part of a partnership or company, a UTR number is needed to file a Self Assessment tax return online or via post.

HMRC issues a UTR number when you register for a Self Assessment tax return. There are several ways to obtain a UTR number, including by phone, online and by post.

How to apply for UTR Online

One of the quickest ways to get a UTR number is by applying online and registering as self-employed.

This can be done on HMRC’s website.

How to apply for a UTR number by Phone

You can call HMRC on 0300 200 3310 to ask about your UTR number.

They may ask you for some information (including personal details and your National Insurance number). They may end up directing you towards applying for your UTR number online.

How to apply for a UTR number by Post

You can also write a letter to HMRC asking to send you a UTR number. Whilst this used to be the preferred option, people are gradually beginning to move towards online methods instead.

Writing a letter can involve a lot of back and forth (as well as mounting postage fees) as you trade information with HMRC, and the process can often take several weeks. If you’ve got tax to file quickly, then applying by letter may not be feasible.

Need help preparing your tax return?

By downloading GoSimpleTax for iOS or Android, you can save yourself hours of valuable time and prevent the stress of completing your annual tax return.

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