What a UTR number is and how to get yours as a contractor

With the new tax year starting on April 6th 2022, now is the perfect time to consider filing your Self-Assessment Tax Return, to know how much tax you owe.

And with the imposing cost of living price increases, it’s our belief that now more than ever, it’s sensible to plan ahead, writes Amanda Swales, director at GoSimpleTax.

But perhaps you’re a first-timer ready and eager to submit, yet you need to know the answer to one burning question before you can get on your way with HMRC. What on earth is the taxman’s oft-asked for, UTR number?!

What is a UTR number?

‘UTR’ stands for ‘Unique Taxpayer Reference.’

UTR is a 10-digit number that is unique for each person or business.

Just as with a National Insurance (NI) number, once you have your UTR number, you have it for life!

So, even if you’ve been out of business for a while, you’ll never lose your UTR number, your number will just become dormant.

When do contractors need to provide a UTR number?

A UTR number is required if you:

  • Need to create an online account with HMRC
  • Are self-employed or have a limited company
  • Owe tax on savings, capital gains, and dividends
  • Must register individual taxes
  • Work within the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

How do you register for a UTR number?

If you don’t already have a UTR number and need one, the most simple and fastest way to get one is to apply online on HMRC’s website.

Of course, not everyone’s preferred method involves a computer or laptop, so rest assured, you can also apply to get your UTR number via letter too! That said, the snail mail route is, unfortunately, much slower – and it will involve postage fees as well.

When it comes to registering for a UTR number, this must be done within the first three months of opening your business, regardless of your occupation.

What details does HMRC need to give me my UTR?

In order to register, you must also submit a few different pieces of information.

This information -- to get your UTR -- includes:

  • Your name, D.O.B and address
  • Your contact information (preferred phone number and email address)
  • Your NI number
  • When you commenced self-employment
  • The type of business you have
  • Basic business information (address, company number/name etc)

What happens after registering for a UTR number?

Once you’ve applied for your UTR number, there are a few things to bear in mind.

First of all, it can take up to ten days for your UTR number to arrive, sometimes longer.

In addition to this, once you’ve heard back from HMRC and received your activation code, don’t wait around too long before using it, as it expires at 28 days!

Where can you find your UTR number?

Your UTR number can be found in a number of places, including:

  • Statements of accounts
  • Your Self-Assessment Tax Return
  • HMRC payment reminders
  • HMRC Self-Assessment notices

If you think you’ve either misplaced or lost your UTR number, don’t panic. Contacting HMRC is your best bet. When reaching out to HMRC, you should have your NI number to hand, as you will be asked for it when you call.

Now you know pretty much all there is to know about UTR numbers, you’ll be the taxman’s new best friend, because you’re one step closer to self-assessing!

Tuesday 5th Apr 2022
Profile picture for user Amanda Swales

Written by Amanda Swales

Amanda is a commercial accountant and has been working in the tax software industry for 25 years.

Her expertise and great passion lies within streamlining systems and enhancing productivity. Her enthusiasm is uncompromising.

As the Director of GoSimpleTax she is an ambassador for simplifying tax affairs working with sole traders and small businesses.

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