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What is a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number?

January 14, 2022

With the Self Assessment deadline for the 2020/21 tax year swiftly approaching, now is the time to pull together all the information you need to make sure your tax return is filed without a hitch. On this list of important information is your Unique Taxpayer Reference number — but what exactly is it?

In this guide, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about Unique Taxpayer Reference numbers, from what they are and what they’re used for, to how to get one and what to do if you lose it.

What is a Unique Taxpayer Reference number?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference number — otherwise known as a UTR number or ‘taxpayer number’ — is a unique code assigned to Self Assessment taxpayers, and is used by HM Revenue and Customs to identify taxpayers and their corresponding tax records. On forms this is a 10-digit number, and may sometimes end in ‘K’.

UTR numbers can be used to identify individuals (such as self-employed sole traders) and companies for tax purposes. Much like your National Insurance number, you only get one UTR number and this stays the same your whole life.

If you’re in a business partnership or have just set up a limited company, you’ll need a UTR for yourself, your business partner (if you’re in a partnership) and for your new business, all of which you’ll need when filing any tax return.

What do I need a UTR number for?

If you need to file a Self Assessment tax return, you’ll need your UTR number close to hand. Since this number is only given to those who need to file a Self Assessment, HMRC uses your Unique Taxpayer Reference to see if you’ve met your obligations as a Self Assessment taxpayer, and to match the payments you’ve made to your taxpayer record.

While UTRs are only used by Self Assessment taxpayers, a UTR number is not proof of owning a business. Self Assessments can be filed by any of the following:

  • Self-employed sole traders
  • Limited company directors
  • Those who owe Capital Gains Tax, and tax on dividends and savings
  • High earners (earning above £100,000)

When will I need to use my UTR number?

Alongside needing the number to file (and make payments on account towards) your Self Assessment, you’ll also need your UTR number if you’re signing up for the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), or if you’ll be working with someone who’ll be managing your finances for you (for example, filing your Self Assessment with Ember).

How do I get a UTR?

If you’ve recently launched a limited company or registered for Self Assessment, you’ll automatically be registered for a UTR number.

Acknowledgement of your new business venture, along with your new UTR number, will be sent to your business address within 10 working days (or 21 days if you’re abroad).

What information do I need to provide to get a UTR?

Before you can get your UTR number, you’ll need to provide the following information to HMRC:

  • Basic information, such as your full name, address and date of birth
  • Your National Insurance (NI) number
  • A contact phone number and email address
  • The date you started self-employment
  • Your business address and telephone number
  • Your business type

Where can I find my UTR?

If you’re filing a Self Assessment for the first time, your UTR will appear on the SA250 form you receive when you register as self-employed, or on your first communication from HMRC once you’ve incorporated your company.

Going forward, you’ll then be able to find your UTR number on the following documents:

  • Previous tax returns
  • Notices to file
  • Payment reminders from HMRC
  • Your statement of account

You can also find your personal UTR number online via your online account on the HMRC website, or can contact HMRC by letter or by calling the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.

If you’re a limited company director, you’ll be able to find your company UTR number on HMRC documents addressed to your company, such as the CT603 or your notice to deliver a Company Tax return.

Can I get a new UTR if I lose mine?

Since your UTR number connects you to all the tax payments you’ve made through Self Assessment, you cannot change this number.

With this in mind, be sure to keep your UTR number to yourself — like your National Insurance number, your Unique Taxpayer Reference number can be used for fraud if it falls into the wrong hands.

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Rachel Cameron-Potter

Rachel is a Content Marketer at Ember with a love of writing, editing and all things creative. After graduating from York with a degree in English, Rachel has dabbled extensively in content creation, working as a fundraising lead for a letterpress studio, a digital marketer on a political campaign, a magazine editor, voice over artist and freelance writer.