What is a UTR Number and How To Get It

19 June, 2024 · 7 min read

If you’re self-employed or a business owner in the UK, a UTR number (or “unique tax reference number”) is a must for filing taxes.You will also need to get one if you reach the annual income threshold of £100,000 through PAYE, as a hired employee too, since you will need it to file your self-assessment.

The number serves as an identifier for self-employed individuals and companies, allowing HMRC to identify and track them.

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Understanding UTR Numbers

A UTR can have ten or thirteen digits, sometimes with a “k” at the start or end.

Below are some examples:

  • 1234567890
  • 1234567890123
  • 123456789K
  • 123456789012K

Personal and company UTRs look the same, and they serve the same function. However, HMRC assigns each self-employed person and each company their own UTR. If you are both self-employed and have a company, you will receive two UTRs – and if you own multiple companies, you will receive multiple UTRs.

Why Do You Need a UTR Number?

You can’t submit a self-assessment tax return in the UK without a UTR, and failing to do so if you meet HMRC’s self-assessment requirements means you’re evading taxation and could face penalties.

As soon as you register a business or for self-employment in the UK, you will obtain a UTR by default, and you will need to use it every time you file your taxes.

You may also need a UTR for additional purposes, such as signing up for the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

How to Get a UTR Number

You can’t apply directly for a UTR number. Instead, HMRC will give you a UTR number when you register as self-employed or create a company in the UK.

The process for registering for self-employment versus registering a partnership or limited company differs slightly. However, in all cases, you will receive your UTR number automatically after registration.

You can register online, by phone, or even by post – we’ve detailed how the process works below.

What documents and information do I need to obtain a UTR number?

HMRC will ask you for the following when applying for self-assessment:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • National insurance number
  • Commencement of self-employment 
  • Details about your business

When registering a business or a partnership, you also need to give a business registration address and details of any shareholders or partners.

How long does it take to get a UTR number?

After registering for self-assessment or starting a business, you should receive your UTR number in around ten working days. If you're abroad, the process can take 21 working days.

Can I apply for a UTR number online?

Registering online is the easiest and most popular option. Simply register your business or for self-assessment through the HMRC website and wait to receive your UTR number through the post.

How can I get a UTR number by phone?

You can call HMRC on 0300 200 3310. If you’ve already registered through HMRC but can’t find your UTR number, they may be able to help you. However, they may redirect you to the online application process if you haven’t yet registered for self-assessment or your business.

How can I get my UTR number by post?

By default, you will receive your UTR by post, so you don’t need to do anything special for HMRC to send it this way.

You will receive this letter from Companies House, with your UTR number in it
You will receive this letter from Companies House, with your UTR number in it

Where to Find Your UTR Number

Your UTR number will appear in the top right corner of letters from HMRC (such as payment notices). You can also find it by logging into your personal tax account or the HMRC app.

It’s essential to keep track of this number so you can use it in future tax returns when needed.

If you lose your UTR number, you can obtain it by following the process outlined earlier.

UTR Number Usage and Legal Implications

If you try to submit a tax return without using your UTR number, you will be filling in the form incorrectly and could face a penalty.


What should I do if I've lost my UTR number?

Call the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310. Once you give them your national insurance number and other details, they will send you your number by post.

Can I use the same UTR number in different tax returns?

You should use the same UTR in your tax returns every year. However, if you have multiple UTRs because you have registered various business ventures, using the correct UTR in each tax return is crucial.

How do UTR numbers for business partnerships work?

After you register a business partnership, you will receive a UTR number for the partnership Your partners will also have their own UTR numbers as individuals.

How can I reactivate my UTR number?

You don’t need to do anything special. As soon as you submit a tax return, it will reactivate your UTR. However, it is always good to check with HMRC to ensure that your records are up-to-date and that they do not require any additional information from you.

What happens if I use the wrong UTR number?

Using the wrong UTR number will mean that HMRC cannot process your return, which could result in a penalty. If you realise you’ve used the wrong number, contact HMRC and tell them you made an error.

How can I change my UTR number?

It’s not possible to change your UTR number, as this would mean HMRC wouldn’t be able to identify and track your past tax activities.

Is a UTR number the same as a tax code?

No. A tax code tells employers and pension providers how much tax-free allowance someone has and effectively how much tax someone will end up paying. Meanwhile, a UTR number identifies a company or those who file self-assessment returns.

Do you always have the same UTR number?

Yes. Even if you lose your UTR number, you will retrieve your original number after contacting HMRC, rather than receiving a new number.

Can I get paid without a UTR number?

If you are earning self-employment income above £1,000 per year, you must register for self-assessment or register a business as soon as possible. However, PAYE employees generally don’t need a UTR number.

Who may ask for my UTR number?

Usually, you will only need to give your UTR number to HMRC. However, you may need to give it to an accountant who files your taxes on your behalf.

Do I need a UTR number as a Sole Trader?

Yes. When you register as a sole trader, you will automatically receive a UTR number.

Do I have to pay to apply for a UTR number?

No. However, when you register a limited company, there is a £50 fee to incorporate a new company.

Over to You

For business owners and the self-employed, a UTR number is a crucial puzzle piece for filing tax returns. Once you receive yours, be sure to store it somewhere safe and memorable.

Need some help? ANNA can walk you through the process of registering a company  and obtaining your UTR number.

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