A unique taxpayer reference (UTR) is a 10 digit number issued by HMRC to businesses and individuals to allow them to manage their tax returns.
All businesses need UTR numbers, but individuals only need them if they are completing self-assessment tax returns.
Most individuals in standard employment will not need one.
UTR numbers for businesses
You don’t need to ask HMRC to send you your business’s UTR number as it should be sent to your automatically.
After registering your business with Companies House, they will notify HMRC of the business’s formation. HMRC will then send a letter – Form CT41G – to your registered office address. You should receive the letter within 21 days of registering the business.
This letter will contain a lot of information about tax for new companies, and, importantly, will feature your UTR number under the heading ‘UTR’, or ‘tax reference’. The number will be recognisable because it will be 10 digits long, and may end in ‘K’.
You will need your UTR number when you register online for corporation tax (which you need to do within 3 months of the date you started trading) and when you’re filling out any tax forms.
If you can’t remember your UTR number and you can’t find your copy of Form CT41G, you’ll be able to find it on any previous tax return or document from HMRC. You will also be able to find it on your online account.
UTR numbers for individuals
If you are a self-employed sole trader or a limited company director, you will receive an individual UTR number.
For sole traders, this number will cover their business income as well as personal, but limited company directors are separate legal entities from their businesses, meaning that they need a separate number.
The process of registering for self-assessment is slightly different for sole traders and company directors, and has been explained in more detail in a previous blog post. The important part of the process of UTRs is that after completing the first stage of the registration process, whether that’s online enrolment for sole traders or an SA1 form for limited company directors, you will be sent your UTR number in the post. This number will then allow you to complete the rest of the registration process.