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Your UTR Number Explained

When you’ve fulfilled the necessary steps to completing your business registration, including obtaining a registered office address and filing all relevant documents, you’ll have to identify and understand a plethora of important terms. And one of these need-to-know-nouns will have you swiftly reach for your business glossary — a “company UTR number”.

Fortunately, this article will outline all you need to know about a UTR number and explain how your company can receive its very own UTR number. 

What Is a Company UTR Number?

Sometimes referred to as a “tax reference number”, UTR is an acronym for “Unique Taxpayer Reference”.  Your UTR number will comprise 10 digits (e.g. 0123456789) and is issued by HMRC to all UK residents who complete a tax self-assessment, such as a self-employed individual, sole trader, or limited company owner. 

For those who work in the construction industry, an application for both a company UTR number and a Construction Industry Scheme registration (CIS registration) must be made. 

Why Is a UTR Number Important for Companies?

A company UTR number is used to identify companies for tax-related issues. The UTR number will be required for a number of tax related issues, such as tax submissions to HMRC and the following:

  • When you change your corporation tax accounting period
  • To contact HMRC for company-related issues
  • For VAT returns and tax filing
  • To inform HMRC about changes to your registered details or company structure
  • To inform HMRC if your company is dormant
  • Payment of corporation tax and VAT
  • To pay your employees
  • To register for corporation tax, VAT, and PAYE

How Can I Receive My UTR Number?

You will be issued a UTR number during the process of a tax self-assessment registration or when you’re forming a limited company.  

However, if you have not yet received your UTR number, you can visit HMRC online or contact them by phone. Alternatively, you can send a hardcopy by post to HMRC. You’ll then receive your company UTR number along with an activation code. 

According to the Tax Return and Self-Assessment page on GOV.UK online: 

            “[After you register] you’ll get a letter containing your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) within 10 working days (21 if you’re abroad). You need your UTR to send a return. If you’ve sent a Self Assessment tax return before, you’ll already have a UTR”.

What Details Does HMRC Require?

After registering your company as “active” with HMRC for the aforementioned tax legalities (this must be done within three months of starting any form of business activity or receiving business related income), you’ll have to provide the following details:

  • Company name and company registration number (CRN).
  • Trading start date (this will determine the start date of your initial corporation tax accounting period).
  • Main address where your business activities are active (this doesn’t have to be your registered office address).
  • Outline your company’s principal activities (your SIC code will be needed here).
  • The date on which your company accounts will be noted. This is known as the “accounting reference date (ARD)”, and will most likely be on the anniversary of the last day of the month of your business’ formation.
  • Any information of whether you’ve taken over an existing company/or part of a group.
  • Comprehensive details of all company directors (names, addresses, National Insurance number).
  • If applicable, any information regarding the appointment of an agent (accountant/tax advisor) who handles your company’s tax related issues.

How Do I Find My Existing UTR Number?

In case you’ve forgotten your UTR number, there are a number of ways to retrieve the all-important digits. 

Most of your HMRC correspondence will show your company UTR number; make sure you refer to any tax returns letters you receive or documents such as a P60 or P45. Your company UTR number will also be printed on your payslip. 

Check this list for where your UTR number may be located: 

  • Your company’s online Corporation Tax account
  • Your online Self Assessment account
  • The “Welcome to Self Assessment” letter sent by HMRC
  • The “Corporation Tax Information for New Companies” letter sent by HMRC
  • The informative letter containing your Self Assessment activation code
  • Notices to file a Corporation Tax return or Self Assessment tax return
  • Account statements 
  • Payment reminders
  • Previous Corporation Tax or Self Assessment returns
  • Any similar official letters/notices sent by HMRC

However, if you still can’t access previous tax documents (or you simply want to check your company UTR number) you can call the self-assessment helpline or follow the detailed HMRC instructions here

What Are the Implications for an Overseas Tax Payer? 

If you’re an overseas tax payer, you might be required to make an international payment to HMRC (this may be expensive because of high international banking fees). Remember, traditional banks can charge you an administration fee to process the international payment, therefore it’s advised to refer to your individual bank policies.  

Your UTR Number Is Different to Other Numbers

Completing your self-assessment form, and subsequently receiving your UTR number is not too complicated. However, complications may arise if you begin confusing other numbers/identification digits that you will inevitably come across. Take note of the following:

  • Company Registration Number:this issued when you register your company and is used to identify your company. It normally contains eight digits (e.g. 12345678) or two letters followed by six numbers. 
  • VAT number: this issued by HMRC for companies that registered for VAT. This number contains nine digits, with the “GB” prefix (e.g. GB123456789)
  • Employer reference number: this is issued by HMRC when employers register to implement PAYE (Pay As You Earn) for their employees. The first part of the reference consists of three digits, identifying the tax office that deals with the appropriate PAYE. The second part follows a forward slash, and identifies the tax office’s employer reference (e.g. 123/AB456).


Your 10-digit UTR number may not be listed as “UTR” or “Unique Taxpayer Reference” on certain documents — it’s likely be referred to as something such as: “Reference” “Tax Reference” or “Corporation Tax Reference”. On official HMRC correspondence, your UTR will likely be located near the top right side of the page. 

When forming a companyusing the services of a reputable formations company, many of the oft-demanding administrative tasks are completed swiftly. This includes assistance with gaining and retrieving important documents and numbers, including your company UTR number. 

Are you a business owner who is looking to retrieve or gain a Unique Taxpayer Reference Number (UTR)? Contact our dedicated company formationsteam now for expert assistance.

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