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 labelled as your tax reference’ number or ‘official use’, so keep an eye out for those.
Do I need a UTR Number?
You’ll need a UTR number if you submit a self-assessment tax return.
And if you submit a self-assessment tax return it’ll be because:
- you’re self-employed or a sole trader.
- or have set up a limited company.
- You’ll also need it if you owe tax on savings interest, dividends, or capital gains, or if you earn more than £100,000 a year.
If you’re in the side-hustle game and you earn over £1,000 from it then you’ll need to do a self-assessment tax return all the same. This includes anything from pet walking to up-cycling clothes.
When you’re submitting a self-assessment tax return it’s worth making sure you’ve definitely put the number in 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 don’t think you’re taking enough care.
How do I get a UTR number?
For the self-employed, you have to self-register for a UTR number as you’re not automatically given one.
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 it 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 send it by post, so the sooner you apply the better! If you’re working abroad then it takes 21 days.
What information do I need to get a UTR number?
There are a few bits and pieces you need in order to receive your UTR number.
You’ll need all of these:
- Your full name.
- Your date of birth
- Your National Insurance (or NI) number
- A contact address
- A contact phone number
- A contact email address
And if you’re a limited company you’ll also need these:
- Your business address
- Your business telephone number
- The date you became self-employed
- Potentially the structure of your business
Who should I share my UTR number with?
Again, like your National Insurance number, your UTR number is a pretty confidential set of digits, unique to you.
It’s unlikely you’ll need to share this number with anyone other than HMRC. The exception being if you have an accountant or an app like Earnr doing your tax returns on your behalf.
Occasionally if you’re working as a sub-contractor, the contractor will need a couple of details to verify you, including your UTR number.
Otherwise there aren’t really any other reasons to share, so do be wary if someone ever asks you for it.
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.
What if I’m working in a partnership or start a limited company?
- If you’re working in a partnership you’ll receive a UTR specific to the partnership and a separate UTR for you and your partners.
- If you’re a limited company you’ll get a UTR number automatically once your company is officially registered with Companies House. All directors receive a unique UTR number alongside the specific company one. You don’t actually need to do anything to get this one.
This can sound like a scarily complicated process but remember Earnr automates your tax return in minutes and gets your details set up as you go. You can visit the app store to get started today!