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UTR Number in UK: A Guide for Taxpayers

Published by Susan Basnet
Published Date: May 10, 2024

Whether you're currently operating as a sole trader, involved in a partnership, or contemplating the launch of a sole trader business, obtaining a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number is paramount. This guide not only provides a fundamental understanding of the UTR but also offers a step-by-step tutorial on the application process.

Explore the essentials and ensure you're equipped with the necessary information for a seamless UTR application.

Understanding UTR

A Unique Tax Reference (UTR) Number is a 10-digit number that HMRC uses to identify the taxpayers or their businesses for tax purposes. A UTR which is distinct from each individual and company, is essential for the following reasons:

Who Needs a UTR

All individuals and companies who file self-assessment tax returns need to possess a UTR. This includes self-employed individuals, limited companies, partners, and company directors, making the UTR a universal requirement.

Obtaining your UTR

To obtain a UTR, you need to register with HMRC via HMRC’s website.

If the only source of your income is via employment, you do not need to register for UTR. However, for self-employed individuals, the process involves notifying HMRC of your self-employment, and registering for self-assessment and class 2 National Insurance Contributions.

UTR for Self-Employed Individuals

A sole trader or self-employed must be registered within HMRC for self-assessment if earning per tax year is above £1000.

UTR Number for Self-Employed Individuals

To register, follow the following steps:

Creating Account: You must create an account on the HMRC website, confirm your email address, create a password, and set up account recovery details.

Verifying Information: HMRC asks for certain information that must be provided and be confirmed with the relevant documents, such as your UK passport.

After account creation, a letter containing the UTR number will be sent via post within 10 days, which is needed to file the tax return. The deadline to finish registration once started is 90 days, and a Government Gateway account is required.

Entering Business Details: The next step is selecting the type of business and answering questions about the business, requiring information such as start date of self-employment, and contact details.

Once that part of the process is completed, you will be shown a preview of the information you entered. You need to carefully look into these and confirm the accuracy of the details.

Submitting Application: When you are confident of the information, submit the application and wait for verification by HMRC, which can take up to a week.

UTR for Limited Companies

Limited companies also have a distinct UTR number, which is generally referred to as the Corporation Tax UTR number.

Once you register a limited company in the Companies House, a corporation tax UTR number will be automatically provided to your limited company. HMRC usually posts your company’s UTR number within 14 days of the company being registered with Companies House.

However, you can request your company’s UTR online if you did not get your UTR after registration.

UTR and Personal Tax

An UTR number is a prerequisite for filing your self-assessment returns, which must be done by January 31 of the following tax year to which the information relates. For e.g. the tax return for the year 2023/24 should be filed by January 31 2025.

If you have not filed your self-assessment returns before, you must register for the UTR number by 31 October 2024.

Although there is no penalty for late UTR application, there is a risk of not receiving the UTR on time while filing your self-assessment, in which case you will be penalised.

Have you Lost or Forgotten Your UTR?

If you have lost or forgotten your UTR, you should initially look into the following:

  • Your personal tax account or the HMRC app,
  • Your earlier self-assessment returns or
  • Previous letters from HMRC.

If you still cannot find UTR, you should contact HMRC to request for a copy of your UTR number. Generally, you’ll be asked about the personal details on your lost UTR.

UTR Number

Limited companies can request their corporation tax UTR with the HMRC online. The UTR number will be sent to the business address registered with the Companies House. Before sending you a copy of your Corporation Tax UTR, HMRC will ask for your:

  • Company Registration Number, and
  • Registered Company Name

It is important to note that the copy of corporation tax UTR cannot be requested for companies that have been officially dissolved and no longer on the Companies House Register.

Changing your UTR

UTR number cannot be changed once it has been issued. However, if you deregister and then register again with few changes, the number will be the same. The history associated with the UTR number cannot be avoided.

However, you can contact HMRC to update your details or those of your business.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) is the keystone for effective tax management in the UK. Whether as a self-employed individual or operating a limited company, it’s crucial to understand the significance your UTR holds. Contacting HMRC without any undue delay should be your priority if you cannot locate your UTR.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to receive a UTR after applying?

You should expect to get your UTR by post 10 days after you register. However, you may find it sooner in your Personal Tax Account or the HMRC app.

Is a UTR the same as a VAT registration number?

No. A UTR number is a separate identifying number from a VAT registration number.

What should I do if I receive suspicious communication regarding my UTR?

You should contact HMRC immediately if you receive suspicious communication regarding your UTR.

Susan Basnet
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