The UTR is a reference number issued to anyone in the UK who needs to complete a tax self assessment. If you submit tax returns to HMRC, you’re likely to need one.
If you’re self-employed, a sole trader, or you own a limited company, you’ll need to know about the unique taxpayer reference number (UTR).
In this guide, we’ll give you the full lowdown on the UTR, including what it looks like and how to find yours. Plus, what to do if you lose your UTR. So let’s get started.
Note that in the UK, the abbreviation UTR usually refers to your tax ID - but in India, UTR stands for unique transaction reference.
First and foremost, you’ll need to know what a UTR looks like. It’s a 10 digit number just like the example below:
|UTR number: 7210158404|
Some UTR numbers will have the letter ‘K’ at the end.
If you’re a visitor or expat from the US, it’s easy to confuse the UTR with a tax identification number (TIN).
The TIN is used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the US in its tax system, and can refer to a person’s Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Here in the UK, the UTR serves a similar function. But while it may be known as a ‘tax reference’ on some documentation, the official name for it is always the unique taxpayer reference (UTR).
Anyone who completes a tax self assessment will need a UTR to file their tax return. This applies if you’re self-employed or a sole trader, own your own company, or work with a business partner.
If you’re not sure whether or not you need to submit a self assessment, you can find out on the Government website.
A UTR may be automatically issued if you register a limited company or apply for tax self assessment. You’ll receive it in the post around 10 days after registering¹.
You’ll find your 10 digit number on correspondence from HMRC, often on the top right of letters issued regarding your UK tax. You can find it on²:
- Previous tax returns
- Notices from HMRC to file a return
- Payment reminders.
You can also find your UTR by logging into the online Self Assessment portal, where you can view and manage your tax, along with accessing other HMRC online services.
Ready to complete your first tax return? Here’s how to get your UTR number, which you’ll need in order to submit returns to HMRC:³
- Register for Self Assessment online - you can also use form SA1 to register for Self Assessment if you’re not self-employed
- Wait 10 days to receive your UTR through the post
- You’ll receive a second letter containing your activation code for Self Assessment. You’ll need this to activate your account, before using your UTR to file a tax return.
Before you can register for Self Assessment and get your UTR, you’ll need to make sure you have the following to hand:
- Your name, address and contact details
- Your date of birth
- National Insurance (NI) number
- The date you started self-employment
- Details of your business, such as the type, address and contact information.
Need a UTR for your limited company? As long as your business is registered with Companies House, you should be able to request your Corporation Tax UTR online. You’ll need to provide your registered company name and registration number.
Once you’ve completed the online form, your UTR will be posted to your Companies House registered business address.
If you’ve checked all previous correspondence from HMRC, and haven’t been able to access online HMRC services, you may need to request a lost UTR.
The good news is that it should be relatively straightforward to do this. All you’ll need to do is call the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310⁶ and provide your details, including your National Insurance number.
If you’re looking into getting a UTR, it’s likely that you’re setting up a new business or starting out as a freelancer. If you have plans to trade internationally with your new venture, you’re going to need a Wise multi-currency account.
With a Wise borderless account, you can pay invoices in 70+ countries and receive money from overseas clients - all for tiny fees and the real, mid-market exchange rate. It could be up to 19x cheaper than PayPal, which many freelancers and new businesses use when they’re just starting out.
You can even integrate your Wise account with your accounting software, to save you on admin time. And to cover your business expenses, there’s the Wise debit Mastercard for low cost spending in the local currency in 200+ countries. It’s international banking without the bank, and without the high fees.
And that’s the UTR in a nutshell. After reading this guide, you should be all clued up on what the unique taxpayer reference is, who needs one and where to find yours - including how to register if you’re ready to file your first tax return.
Once you have a UTR, it’s yours for life. But don’t worry if you lose it - just scroll back up to the handy section in our guide for recovering your UTR.
Sources used for this article:
- gov.uk - Self assessment registration
- gov.uk - Find lost UTR
- gov.uk - Self-employed registration
- gov.uk - Tax service
- gov.uk - Organisations
Sources checked on 18-June-2021.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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