When you register with HMRC either as an individual or as a business, you will be issued with various reference numbers on official documents. This is because there will be different departments at HMRC dealing with your accounts. It is easy to be confused about which if these numbers to use when, but it is very important to use the correct one when dealing with HMRC.
Here we explain what each number means, when you need to use it, and how to find it.
What is a Unique Taxpayer Reference number?
A Unique Taxpayer Reference number (UTR) is a 10-digit number that uniquely identifies you or your business. The UTR number is issued after you have registered for self-assessment or set up a limited company. HMRC will issue a letter after registration which includes the UTR number. They will also reference this number on any future correspondence and official documentation.
A UTR number example is: 1234567890.
Your company’s UTR and your own UTR are different. The self-employed, sole traders and business owners are required to use their Unique Taxpayer References when submitting tax returns to HMRC. A Unique Taxpayer Reference number will go on your self-assessment forms.
You will need to use your business UTR when submitting a Company Tax Return.
What can I do if I have lost my Unique Taxpayer Reference number?
If you lose your UTR number, the first place to check is on any correspondence from HMRC such as previous tax returns or notices to file a return. It may just be referred to as a ‘tax reference’. You can also find your UTR number in your Personal Tax Account if you have registered for Self-Assessment.
If you still cannot locate your UTR number then you can contact HMRC and ask them to send you a reminder in the post.
What is an Employer PAYE Reference Number?
An employer reference number (ERN) or Employer PAYE Reference number is given to every business that registers with HMRC as an employer and has set up the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) scheme. This reference number is a unique set of letters and numbers used by HMRC to identify your company and will be included on the confirmation of registration letter that HMRC sends to you.
The first 3 digits of the Employer Reference number relate to the PAYE office looking after your account, the remaining digits are your unique reference number. It will usually look something like this: 123/AB45678.
You will need your Employer Reference number when you complete your end-of-year PAYE return, access tax codes and notices about your employees, or to register to get email reminders for alerts and notices.
You will also be required to include your Employer PAYE Reference number on pay slips, and provide it to employees who are applying for tax credits or Student Loans. This number identifies the employer, not the employee, so a person can have different Employer PAYE Reference Numbers on documentation from different employers.
What can I do if I have lost my Employers Reference number?
If you have lost your Employer Reference number, the first place to look is on any correspondence about PAYE from HMRC. It will also be on any P45s and P60s that have been issued to your employees.
What is an Accounts Office Reference number?
When you make PAYE payments to HMRC or contact them with queries about an employee or your PAYE account, you will be required to provide your Accounts Office Reference number as part of a security check before they will discuss any details with you. Documents given to employees do not need to include this number.
This reference number will be issued to you by HMRC when you register your business as an employer, at the same time as they issue Employer PAYE Reference number.
The Accounts Office Reference number is made up of 13 digits. The first three digits are your PAYE accounts office reference, relating to the tax office looking after your account. The PAYE office reference number is followed by two letters and then eight numbers.
An accounts office reference number example is: 123PA12345678.
What can I do if I have lost my Accounts Office Reference number?
If you lose your Accounts Office Reference number, check on any PAYE correspondence from HMRC in the first instance. If you still cannot locate the number, you can contact HMRC’s employer helpline to ask for a copy to be posted to you.
Be aware that entering an incorrect accounts office reference number when you submit PAYE information can result in possible Real Time Information (RTI) submission failures at HMRC. This may cause delays in information reaching your HMRC account, resulting in penalties and charges being applied. It is important that the correct reference is entered, so if you are not sure what it is, contact HMRC before making a submission.