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What Is a UTR Number?

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Last editedJun 20202 min read

If you’re submitting a Self Assessment tax return online, you’ll need a UTR number. But what is a UTR number and how do they work? Learn more about UTR numbers, including how to get a UTR number, with our simple guide.

UTR number meaning

UTR stands for Unique Taxpayer Reference, sometimes referred to simply as a “tax reference”. Essentially, a UTR number is a 10-digit number that’s issued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), used to identify individual taxpayers. UTR numbers can be issued to individuals, partnerships, trusts, and companies, as well as a range of other organisations. They are used to track the tax records of each individual taxpayer, and once you’ve got a UTR number in the UK, it’ll stay with you for life, much like a National Insurance number.

How to get a UTR number

UTR numbers are usually issued automatically by the HMRC. You may be issued a UTR number from the HMRC if the following statements apply to you/your business:

  • You’ve registered as a self-employed sole trader

  • You’ve registered as a partnership

  • You’ve formed a new limited company

  • You’ve made HMRC aware of a trust that’s liable to Income Tax

  • You’ve made HMRC aware of untaxed receipts, like rental receipts, as an individual

  • You’re working in construction and need to fill in a CIS Tax Return

As you can see, there’s no need to apply for a UTR number because it will be provided to you by the HMRC as and when you need it. For example, once you start the registration process for Self Assessment, you’ll automatically receive a UTR number from the HMRC.

Where to find my UTR number

If you’ve lost or forgotten your UTR number, there are a broad range of ways to find it. Firstly, you should see your UTR number on your previous tax returns, as well as other documents from the HMRC like payment reminders or notices to file a return. In addition, if you’re registered for Self Assessment your UTR number can be found in your Personal Tax Account.

If you can’t find any documents from the HMRC, there are a few other options. Your next step should be to contact the Self Assessment helpline and request your UTR number. You can also request your Corporation Tax UTR online if you’re a limited company, and HMRC will forward it to the address you’ve registered with Companies House.

Common questions about UTR numbers in the UK

There are lots of misapprehensions and inaccuracies surrounding UTR numbers, with many people not exactly sure what they are or whether they’re relevant for their needs. We’ve put together a list of some of the most commonly asked questions about UTR numbers and provided some straightforward answers to clear up any confusion:

  • Do you need to pay for a UTR number from the HMRC? No, you do not need to pay to apply for a UTR number.

  • Can I be fined if I use the wrong UTR number? Yes, if you use the wrong UTR number when filling in your Self Assessment tax returns, it’s possible that you could face fines/penalties from the HMRC. To be extra safe, double-check your forms before submitting them.

  • Can I reactivate my UTR number? If you don’t use your UTR number for a significant period of time (for example, you stop filing Self Assessment tax returns), your UTR number may become dormant. To reactivate it, all you need to do is start submitting your tax returns again.

  • How do UTR numbers from the HMRC work in partnerships? In a business partnership, you’ll need three different UTR numbers to file your company tax returns online: one for the partnership itself and one for each partner.

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