UTR Number for CIS: everything you need to know
The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is used by HMRC to collect income tax throughout the year from people working in the construction industry.
Construction companies deduct tax on behalf of their workers (subcontractors) and send the money to HMRC as tax payments:
- 20% for workers who have registered themselves as subcontractors with HMRC
- 30% for those who have not
Note that CIS only applies if you work in construction as a subcontractor and you have registered for CIS.
To register, you need to provide HRMC with different information, such as your legal business name (or trading name if it differs from your business name), your National Insurance Number, your VAT registration number (only if you’re VAT registered), and, lastly, your UTR number.
In this post, we’ll cover what a UTR number is, how you ask for one, and how long it takes to receive it.
What is a Unique Taxpayer Reference Number (UTR)?
A Unique Taxpayer Reference number is a code used by HMRC to identify self-employed people and their companies for tax purposes.
Often referred to as a UTR number, this number gives HMRC an easy way to track your tax obligations and match your records to payments.
Just like your National Insurance, once you have this number it stays with you for life.
And if you’re trying to find it, your UTR number has 10 digits and sometimes has a ‘K’ at the end. It can be labeled as your tax reference number or ‘official use’, so keep an eye out for those.
Do I need a UTR Number?
If you want to apply for CIS or work as a subcontractor in the construction industry, you’ll need a UTR number, as it’s one of the information required by HRMC for registration.
Moreover, like any other self-employed person, you’ll need a UTR number to submit a self-assessment tax return. The only difference for you is that you need to let HMRC know that you’re a construction worker registering for CIS.
When providing your UTR number, make sure you insert it correctly. Entering the wrong UTR number is one of the most common mistakes made each year and can actually get you a fine if HMRC doesn’t think you’re taking enough care.
How do I get a UTR number and how long does it take to receive it?
For construction workers, you have to self-register for a UTR number as you’re not automatically given one.
Before starting your application make sure you have all the following information:
- Name, Date of birth and your Personal address
- Your National Insurance Number (NIN)
- Your Email address and Phone number
- The date you became self-employed
- Your business name, address and the industry you work in
- Your business phone number
There’re two ways you can do this:
- Through apps like Earnr.
- Through HMRC.
Both these options are free. Although doing it in the Earnr app keeps it all in one place with your business transactions and income.
When applying through HMRC there’re three ways you can apply for your UTR number:
- Online: You can do this on the HMRC website. Once you’ve completed the form they’ll send your number to you in the post.
- Phone: You can give HMRC a ring on 0300 200 3310, although be warned they might still direct you to apply online.
- Post: You can write to HMRC at:
Pay As You Earn and Self-Assessment, HM Revenue and Customs, United Kingdom, BX9 1AS
Post is likely to take a while as there’ll be some back and forth with more requests for information and proof of identity.
An important thing to remember is that it takes 10 days to receive your number as HMRC sends it by post, so the sooner you apply the better! If you’re working abroad then it takes 21 days.
How can I find my UTR number?
If you’re not sure if you have one or have lost it then give HMRC a ring on 0300 200 3310. Just make sure to have your National Insurance number ready to hand.
The number should also be in your Government Gateway portal in the top right-hand corner of your account summary.
Otherwise, you can check any correspondence you've received from HMRC. Your tax return should show the number distinctly in the top left corner and appear: UTR 1234567891.