Understanding the Unique Taxpayer Reference

Unique Taxpayer Reference

What is a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) is a ten-digit number that is exclusive to either an individual or a business, acting as an identifier for tax purposes in the United Kingdom. This code is integral to the process of filing tax returns, dealing with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), and for handling other matters pertaining to taxation.

The UTR is generated by HMRC when a person or company registers for self-assessment or corporation tax. It is important to note that each UTR is unique to the individual or entity it’s assigned to, ensuring distinct identification for tax management.

The Composition of UTR

The UTR number is made up of ten digits, and it may sometimes be presented with a ‘K’ at the end. The composition of the UTR is random and doesn’t contain coded information about the taxpayer, unlike the National Insurance number, for example.

The Importance of UTR

The UTR is crucial for tax administration. It allows HMRC to track the tax records of each taxpayer accurately. It is used in all communications with HMRC and when completing your tax return.

Misconceptions about UTR

It’s important to clarify that the UTR isn’t the same as your National Insurance number, nor is it the same as a company registration number. Each of these numbers has distinct purposes.

How Can I Get My UTR?

Obtaining a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) is a straightforward process initiated when you or your company register for self-assessment or corporation tax in the United Kingdom. This article outlines the steps necessary to acquire a UTR.

Step 1: Register for Self-Assessment

The first step towards getting your UTR is to register for self-assessment. This process can be completed online through the HMRC’s website. When registering, you’ll need to provide some personal information including your National Insurance number and contact details.

Step 2: Wait for the UTR

Upon successful registration for self-assessment, HMRC will automatically generate your UTR. This number is usually sent to you by post within 10 business days. The UTR is typically found on documents such as your tax return, Statement of Account, and Payment Reminders.

Step 3: Safeguard Your UTR

Once you receive your UTR, it is important to keep it safe. This is your unique tax identifier, and it is required whenever you are communicating with HMRC or filing your tax returns.

What is the Purpose of a UTR?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference, or UTR, serves an essential role in the taxation system of the United Kingdom. It’s an identifier specific to you or your business that helps Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) manage your tax affairs. This article will delve into the specific purposes and uses of a UTR.

Understanding UTR

A UTR is a 10-digit number issued by the HMRC to anyone in the UK who has registered for self-assessment or corporation tax. Each UTR is unique to the individual or entity it was assigned to, offering a distinct identifier for tax management.

Tracking Tax Affairs

One of the key purposes of the UTR is to help HMRC accurately track your tax records. By using this unique identifier, HMRC can ensure that the tax data they hold corresponds to the correct taxpayer.

Filing Tax Returns

When it comes time to file your tax return, your UTR is essential. You’ll need it to complete the process, whether you’re filing online or using traditional paper forms. Your UTR is also required when communicating with HMRC regarding tax matters.

Registering for VAT

If you decide to register your business for VAT, you’ll need your UTR. It’s required as part of the registration process, demonstrating the pivotal role it plays in all major tax activities.

Contracting and Freelancing

For contractors and freelancers, having a UTR is essential as it helps to demonstrate that you’re registered for tax purposes. It may be required by some clients as assurance before they hire you.

Is a UTR the Same as a National Insurance Number?

When it comes to tax management in the United Kingdom, both the Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and the National Insurance (NI) number play significant roles. However, despite their shared relevance in taxation matters, these two are not the same.


A UTR is a 10-digit number assigned to an individual or a business by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) when they register for self-assessment or corporation tax. The primary function of the UTR is to serve as an exclusive identifier for tax management.

The National Insurance Number

The National Insurance number, on the other hand, is a personal identification number issued by the Department for Work and Pensions. It is unique to each individual and is used to track your National Insurance contributions and benefits.

The Differences

While both numbers are unique identifiers, they serve different purposes. The UTR is specifically for tax management, whereas the National Insurance number is for social security purposes, although it is also used in tax matters.

Moreover, the formatting of these numbers is different. A UTR is a 10-digit number, while the NI number consists of two letters, six digits, and a final letter.


A common misconception is that the UTR and the NI number are interchangeable, but this isn’t the case. Both numbers are required for different reasons, and each plays a unique role in the UK’s tax and social security systems.

Can I Get a UTR Number Online?

In the digital age, many processes have been simplified through online platforms, and tax registration is no exception. In the United Kingdom, you can indeed start the process to get your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number online through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website.

Registering for Self-Assessment Online

To get a UTR, you first need to register for self-assessment or corporation tax. You can do this online on the HMRC website. The site will guide you through a series of questions to determine what type of taxpayer you are, such as whether you’re self-employed, a partner in a business, or a director of a limited company.

Waiting for the UTR

Once you’ve completed the online registration, HMRC will post your UTR to your address. This is the only way to receive your UTR, as HMRC does not provide UTR numbers over the phone, email, or online for security reasons.

Online Tax Accounts

While you cannot get your UTR number instantly online, you can create an online account with HMRC once you’ve received your UTR. This account allows you to manage your tax affairs online, including filing your self-assessment

What Happens If I Lose My UTR?

In the event that you lose or forget your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), there are ways to retrieve it. Losing your UTR isn’t catastrophic, but it could complicate your tax affairs, as the UTR is crucial for interactions with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

UTR on Official Documents

First, you should know that your UTR is usually printed on official documents sent to you by HMRC, such as your tax return, Statement of Account, or Payment Reminders. Before panicking, double-check these documents as you might find your UTR there.

Contacting HMRC

If you can’t find your UTR on any documents, the next step is to contact HMRC. They can help you recover your UTR. For security reasons, HMRC will post it to your registered address, rather than provide it over the phone or via email.

Online Account

If you have an online account with HMRC, you can also find your UTR there. When you log into your account, your UTR will be listed on the account overview page.

Possible Delays

Be aware that the process of retrieving your UTR could delay your tax affairs, especially if you need the number for an imminent tax return deadline. To avoid potential late filing penalties, begin the process of retrieving your UTR as soon as you realize it’s missing.

How Long Does It Take to Receive a UTR?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) is an important identifier for tax purposes in the United Kingdom. But how long does it take to receive a UTR after you’ve registered for self-assessment or corporation tax?


The process to receive a UTR starts with registration. You need to register for self-assessment or corporation tax. This can be done online on the HMRC website.

Issuing the UTR

Once you’ve registered, HMRC will automatically generate your UTR. This process takes around 3 to 4 weeks. However, during busy periods, it can take longer.

Receiving the UTR

HMRC sends your UTR by post to your registered address. Considering postal service times, you should usually receive your UTR within 5 to 7 days after it’s been issued. Altogether, you should have your UTR around 4 to 6 weeks after registering.

Potential Delays

It’s important to note that delays can occur, especially during peak times or due to unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, it’s advisable to register as soon as you know that you’ll need a UTR to avoid any rush.

Who Needs a UTR?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) plays a critical role in managing tax affairs in the United Kingdom. But who exactly needs a UTR? This article sheds light on the individuals and entities that require a UTR.

Self-Employed Individuals

If you’re self-employed, you need a UTR to pay your Income Tax through the Self Assessment tax return system. This applies to sole traders, freelancers, and contractors.

Partners in a Business Partnership

If you’re a partner in a business partnership, you’ll need a UTR. You’ll use it to complete your individual Self Assessment tax return. The partnership will also have its own UTR to complete the Partnership Tax Return.

Trustees or Executors

Trustees of a trust or registered pension scheme, as well as executors of an estate, require a UTR for the trust or estate. This is used for the Trust and Estate Tax Return.

Limited Companies

A limited company will be given a UTR when it is registered with Companies House. This UTR is used for the Company Tax Return.


Non-residents who pay tax on income they receive from the UK, landlords who’re abroad for 6 months or more, and people eligible to foreign tax on income they get from the UK may also need a UTR.

Do I Need a UTR if I’m Employed?

If you’re an employee, you may wonder if you need a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) in the United Kingdom. This article will clarify the conditions under which an employee might require a UTR.

PAYE System

Generally, most employees in the UK pay their income tax and national insurance contributions via the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system. This system means that the employer deducts the tax due from the employee’s wages before they receive them. In this case, a UTR is not typically necessary.

Other Income

However, if you have other forms of income or gains that need to be taxed – for instance, rental income from a property you let, significant savings or investments income, or profit from selling assets – you might need to register for Self Assessment, and you would then receive a UTR.

Starting Self-Employed Work

If you start doing self-employed work alongside your employment, you’ll need to register for Self Assessment to declare this income. Once registered, HMRC will issue you with a UTR.

Director of a Limited Company

If you become the director of a limited company, you will likely need to register for Self Assessment and thus need a UTR, even if you also remain an employee elsewhere.

UTR For Employees

Therefore, while the majority of employees won’t need a UTR, those with additional incomes, self-employed work, or director responsibilities might require one.

Can I Use Someone Else’s UTR?

In the context of tax management and compliance in the United Kingdom, a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) plays a critical role.

Individual Identifier

A UTR is a 10-digit number that’s unique to either an individual or a company. This number is used by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to track and manage your tax affairs. Since it’s tied specifically to you or your company, it should not be used by anyone else.

Sharing a UTR

Using someone else’s UTR would lead to confusion in tax records and could cause significant issues. It would compromise the integrity of the tax information of both parties involved and potentially lead to serious penalties.

Fraudulent Activity

Moreover, using another individual’s or company’s UTR could be considered fraudulent activity. Such actions could lead to criminal charges. It’s crucial to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of your UTR.


Keep in mind that you should also avoid sharing your UTR indiscriminately. Although it’s not a secret like a password, it’s still personal information that could be misused if it falls into the wrong hands.


1. What is a UTR?

A UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference) is a 10-digit number unique to either an individual or a company. It is used by HMRC to manage your tax affairs.

2. Can I use someone else’s UTR?

No, using someone else’s UTR can lead to confusion in tax records, potential legal penalties, and is considered fraudulent activity.

3. Can I share my UTR with others?

While your UTR isn’t considered secret information, it’s best to avoid sharing it indiscriminately as it could potentially be misused.

4. What happens if I misuse a UTR?

Misusing a UTR, such as using another individual’s or company’s UTR, could lead to serious consequences, including potential legal penalties.

5. Can I have more than one UTR?

No, each individual or company only has one UTR. However, a person who is both self-employed and a partner in a partnership will have a UTR for themselves and another for the partnership.

6. How do I get a UTR?

You get a UTR when you register for self-assessment or corporation tax with HMRC.

7. Can I change my UTR?

No, once a UTR is assigned to an individual or a company by HMRC, it cannot be changed.

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