What is a company’s unique taxpayer reference?

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A company’s unique taxpayer reference is a 10 digit number issued to all new limited companies. This unique taxpayer reference, often abbreviated to UTR and otherwise known as a corporation tax reference or just tax reference, is used by HMRC to identify a company for tax-related purposes and verifies the company’s tax status.

When you successfully form a limited company, Companies House will notify HMRC – so there’s usually no need to contact HMRC yourself.

At latest within a few weeks, HMRC will write to the company’s registered office address confirming the company’s unique tax reference and letting you know what the company needs to do next. If you don’t receive anything, you’ll need to get in contact with the tax office and ask them to resend the information.

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A number of “official” references will be issued to a company. While they are all important, they serve completely different purposes to the company’s unique tax reference.

  1. Company registration number – issued by Companies House, it consists of 8 characters, usually 8 digits or a mix of 2 letters followed by 6 digits (e.g. 07650432), used to identify a company by Companies House
  2. VAT number– issued by HMRC for companies registered for VAT. It consists of 9 digits, often prefixed by “GB” (e.g. GB123456789)
  3. Employer reference number – issued if an employer registers for Pay As You Earn by HMRC. The first part consists of 3 digits, identifying the tax office that deals with the company’s PAYE. The second part of the reference is the tax office’s employer reference. An example PAYE reference could be 123/EF779

It’s also important to remember that the company UTR is different to the personal UTR issued to individuals, including directors and shareholders of the company. Directors and shareholders will have their own unique tax reference if they’ve registered for Self-Assessment and will use that reference when filing their personal tax returns. You cannot use your own personal unique taxpayer reference for your company: as the company is a legal entity in its own right it has its own UTR which must be used when corresponding with HMRC about the company’s tax affairs.

Where can I find the company’s unique taxpayer reference?

The original letter from HMRC confirms the company’s 10 digit UTR. You’ll also find it:

  • On other correspondence received from HMRC, including the Notice to Deliver a Company Tax Return
  • By logging in to your corporation tax online account
  • From your accountant
  • If all else fails, by contacting HMRC directly

When do I need to use the company unique taxpayer reference?

The company’s unique tax reference is really important. For example, you’ll need to quote it:

  • To register the company for corporation tax, VAT and PAYE
  • To file company tax returns
  • To pay corporation tax and VAT
  • When changing the company’s corporation tax accounting period
  • When informing HMRC if the company becomes dormant
  • When updating HMRC if other company details change
  • Whenever you contact HMRC with enquiries

All companies are required to maintain up to date company records. Inform Direct is the perfect free tool to help you easily keep everything up to date.


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