What is my UTR? Finding out your own taxpayer number

HMRC have to process huge amounts of data from millions of different UK citizens. Organising this is a real challenge, not only because of the sheer volume of data to be processed, but also because identifying people can be quite tricky without the right system. Lots of people have the same name, something you may have perhaps noticed if you’ve ever Googled yourself, or tried to find someone on Facebook. It is not just names, however, which repeat a lot, but the likelihood is that some people will have the same date of birth, for example, which is often used to identify people as well as their name. This means that there needs to be another system for keeping track of individuals for tax purposes other than just their names: A unique taxpayer number serves this purpose.

A unique taxpayer reference is often abbreviated to UTR and is used by HMRC to identify individuals efficiently. But how do you get a UTR? When do you need to use your UTR instead of your NINO (your national insurance number)? Getting this information is often not as easy as it should be. However, this guide will look at exactly these issues which should show that finding out this essential information can be as easy as pie.

What is a unique taxpayer reference?

The reason why some may find the prospect of finding out their taxpayer identification number daunting could be because there are two main types of abbreviations which you might come across when trying to find out your taxpayer number. These abbreviations are: UTR and NINO. As mentioned above, UTR stands for your unique taxpayer reference, an identification number which is used by HMRC to keep track of you. It will stay with you for your whole life, just like your national insurance number. This number, known as NINO, is a number which you will need to make use of the UK’s social security system, such as benefits or health care. It is also sometimes used for tax purposes, which is why it is important for this article – but generally speaking you need your UTR and not your NINO or tax purposes. You’ll receive a NINO as a UK Citizen just before your 16th birthday.

If you run your own business, it is essential that you get an UTR. Alongside your VAT number, you‘ll need to get your UTR for your company. This number is issued to individuals and legal entities, depending on a business’ legal structure. HMRC issues this number to various business structures. Your UTR and NINO are not the same number.

Where can I find my UTR and NINO information?

It is all very well and good to know what UTR and NINO stand for – but where can you find these numbers? The two sections below will go over how to find a lost UTR number, as well as finding out your NINO.

UTR

Your UTR can typically be found on any self-assessment forms such as a statement or tax returns you submit to HMRC. If you have a pay slip or PAYE coding notice from HMRC to hand, your UTR should be on there. This number will not change, so don’t worry if your pay-slip is 10 years old. Even if your address has changed since then, your UTR won’t have. You may also find your UTR on your statement of accounts.

However, instead of digging through old paperwork and physical files, there is a quicker and simpler way to find out what your UTR is. If you log in to your government gateway account, you should find it in the self-assessment section. Alternatively, you can call HMRC on 030 0200 3310 to request your UTR number.

NINO

As mentioned above, your national insurance number is important within the UK’s social security system. If you are self employed, however, it is also an important reference number for financial purposes, and is also used as a reference number in the “pay as you earn” system.

It is important to remember that your NINO is not recognised as a taxpayer number in the global market. If you need to file a tax return, you’ll use your UTR, as well as if you need to provide any tax numbers for business you do beyond the UK.

How do I get a UTR number in the first place?

Bearing in mind that a NINO will not suffice for tax identification purposes in most cases, you may be wondering how you get a UTR in the first place. Getting your UTR number can be done on the phone, by an online application, or filling out forms by hand and sending them via the post. This may happen automatically, however, when you register as a partnership firm, or limited company, for example.

Structure of your UTR

All UTRs have the same format. Unlike US taxpayer identification numbers, the format of a UK taxpayer number is purely numerical. It is a set of 10 numbers, allocated automatically and randomly by HMRC. Your NINO, on the other hand, will include some letters, two at the beginning, and one at the end that will always be either A, B, C or D.

What do I need a UTR for?

Once you know what your UTR is, you may be wondering when and why you’ll need it. You as a taxpayer will need to provide it on all tax returns and other documents sent to HMRC. Note that you may have a UTR for personal purposes, and a UTR for your business entity. If you have a limited company, you’ll need a separate UTR for your company. This number should be kept safe with your personal UTR – but don’t mix them up! Personal and company UTRs are identical in format: 10 numerical digits. You’ll need to use your UTR for business taxes, tax return forms, and corporation tax. So to keep your bookkeeping simple and cost effective, make sure you have your UTR to hand, or at least know how to find it out.

Please note the legal disclaimer relating to this article.


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