What is UTR number and how to apply for it

4 minute read

A UTR number is the unique taxpayer reference number issued to anyone in the UK who needs to complete a tax self assessment. If you’re self-employed, a sole trader, or you own a limited company, you’ll probably need a UTR to submit your tax return to HMRC. A UTR may be automatically issued if you register a limited company or apply for tax self assessment. You’ll find your 10 digit number - for example 0123456789 - on correspondence from HMRC, often on the top right of letters issued regarding your UK tax.

Note that in the UK, the abbreviation UTR usually refers to your tax ID - but in India, UTR stands for unique transaction reference.

If you’re looking for your UTR number it might be because you need to finalise your tax self assessment and pay your taxes. UK tax payers based abroad can end up spending more than they need to, if they submit their tax using a cross border payment with their regular bank. Instead, try TransferWise to help you avoid high international banking charges on your UK taxes if you’re based abroad. More on that later.

For all you need to know about finding and using your UTR, and applying for one if you’ve not already registered, read on.

Who needs a UTR number?

Anyone who completes a tax self assessment will need a UTR to file their tax return. This applies if you’re self-employed or a sole trader, own your own company, or work with a business partner.¹ If you’re not sure whether or not you need to submit a self assessment, you can find a good range of information online on the dedicated self assessment pages of the HMRC website. More on this, and how to contact HMRC if you have questions, in just a moment.

If you work in construction, it’s helpful to know that you need to apply for a UTR in addition to your Construction Industry Scheme registration - also known as CIS registration.

How to get a UTR number?

You’ll be issued with a UTR - which is also referred to as just a tax reference number - when you register to complete a tax self assessment, or form a limited company. If you don’t have your UTR yet, you can also contact HMRC to register for a UTR online, or apply for your tax reference by phone.

The easiest way to apply for your UTR number is to complete the application form to submit a tax self assessment which is available through the HMRC website. Either submit this online, or complete, print and post it. Your UTR will then be sent to you, along with an activation code. It should arrive within 10 days for UK addresses, or 21 days if you’re based abroad.¹

You’ll need the activation code to set up your online self assessment account with HMRC.

Where to find a lost UTR?

If you have lost or forgotten your UTR number, there are a few easy ways to recover it. Most correspondence from HMRC will include your tax reference, so you can refer back to letters about your tax return, or documents such as a P60 or P45. It may also be printed on your payslip.

If you can’t get hold of previous tax documents, or want to check your UTR you can also call the self assessment helpline.

If you are a UK based business owner, it’s possible to check your corporation tax UTR online via the UK government website. In this case the number will be automatically sent to the address used when the business was registered.²

Contact HMRC

HMRC have a dedicated customer service team there to help with tax self assessment enquiries, including questions about UTR numbers. You can get in touch in any of the following ways:

  • Online help including ‘how to’ videos and webinars are available via the UK government website
  • Chat on Twitter using the tag @HMRCcustomers - this service is for general enquiries only
  • Phone on 0300 200 3310 from the UK or +44 161 931 9070 from abroad
  • Write to HMRC using this address: Self Assessment, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AS , United Kingdom

Get full details on how to contact HMRC about tax self assessment, including handy resources and links, on the UK government website.

Getting your UTR and filing your self assessment tax shouldn’t be too tricky - but that doesn’t mean it’ll be cheap. If you’re paying your UK tax from overseas, you might need to make an international payment to HMRC, which can push up costs because of high cross border banking fees.

It’s common for traditional banks to charge an administration fee to process your international payment. But many customers are surprised to find that high street banks and international payment services may also add a markup to the exchange rate that’s used.

Instead of using the mid-market exchange rate for your currency pairing - which is the rate you’ll find on Google or using an online currency converter - you might find that a margin is added to the rate. The bank then keep this margin as their profit. This hidden fee means that it’s hard to see the true price of your international payment - and it can also mean that your transfer can cost much more than you expect it to.

To get a better deal when paying your UK tax from overseas, check out TransferWise. You can make a one-off payment, or choose to open yourself a TransferWise multi-currency borderless account online to make and receive low cost international payments. TransferWise is FCA regulated, just like your normal bank, but unlike many traditional banks, all TransferWise cross border payments are made using the Google exchange rate for currency conversion. There’s no markup, and no hidden fees to worry about, so you know that every payment you make is safe, fast, and great value. See if you can save money on your UK tax payment, with TransferWise.

Sources used:


Sources checked on 26-March 2019

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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