What is a UTR number?

Superscript
28 April 2021
2 minute read

A UTR number, which stands for unique taxpayer reference, is a unique 10-digit code that’s assigned to each self-assessment taxpayer. It directly relates only to you or your business and allows HMRC to identify and track your tax records. Similar to your National Insurance number, once you’re assigned a UTR number it’s yours for life and doesn’t change.

Why might I need a UTR number?

There are a few reasons why you might get a UTR number, but the most significant is for those who file a Self Assessment tax return.

So, this includes:

  • If you’re self-employed
  • If you have a limited company
  • If you earn over £100,000
  • If you owe tax on savings, capital gains or dividends

You may also need one if you hire an accountant or financial advisor to help you with your taxes.

If you contact HMRC, you’ll need your UTR number to hand. Likewise, if you’re filling in your Self Assessment tax return, you’ll need to enter your unique taxpayer reference when prompted.

How do I get a unique taxpayer reference?

When you register as a Self Assessment taxpayer, you’ll be given a UTR number automatically.

Once registered, HMRC will send you a letter with your UTR number in the post. They will then send another letter with an activation code that you need to activate your account. It’s important to keep hold of both of these letters, but if you lose your activation code, you can request a new one.

If you set up a limited company, you will also be sent a UTR number automatically. Bear in mind that this is different from your company registration number, which will be given to you when you register with Companies House.

Where do I find my UTR number?

You’ll find your UTR number on correspondence or notification documents that are sent to you by HMRC or when you log onto your personal tax account if you’ve registered for Self Assessment.

This includes:

  • When you register for Self Assessment
  • When you set up a limited company
  • On previous Self Assessment tax returns
  • Payment reminders
  • Notices to file your tax return

It may be called ‘tax reference’, so keep an eye out for both terms.

How to retrieve a lost UTR number

If you can’t find or haven’t received any documents from HMRC with your UTR number on them, you can contact HMRC via web chat, phone, post or Twitter. You can find out how to do this on their Self Assessment contact page.

If you’re registering for Self Assessment, have you bought your self-employed insurance? Some companies require it before you start working with them, so it’s something to think about. If you’re ready, you can start a quote below.

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