What is a tax reference number and where do I find it?

In the UK, a tax reference number is a unique number assigned to a person or a business by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to identify them for tax purposes. There are different tax reference numbers in the UK, including VAT registration number, Unique taxpayer reference and National Insurance number. It's important to note that each individual or business will have different tax reference numbers for different taxes.

Tax authorities across different countries use the tax identification number to track and monitor your tax accounts. When registered with an employer or working under someone, you must keep track of their tax reference number. Every employer and pension provider has a unique tax reference number. It acts as a record for HMRC to identify and manage tax records. If you connect with HMRC regarding tax, they will ask you for the tax reference number.


What does a tax reference number look like?

If you want your tax reference number in the UK, you will need to get the 10-digit number. Since it is the same as the UTR, you will get the tax reference number only ten days after completing the registration procedure. The tax reference number will either reflect in your HMRC app or personal tax account. The first three digits of the tax reference number reflect the tax office that deals with the employer. The remainder reflects the employer.

what is a tax reference number and where do i find it

Is the tax reference number the same as a unique taxpayer reference (UTR)?

In the UK, a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) is a 10-digit number assigned to individuals and businesses by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for tax purposes. A UTR is unique to an individual or business and is used to identify them for tax-related matters. It differs from the National Insurance number, which is also assigned by HMRC but used for social security and pension purposes.

A Tax Reference Number is a general term that can refer to a UTR or other type of number used to identify a taxpayer for tax purposes.


UK alternatives to a tax identification number

In the UK, alternatives to a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) as a tax identification number include:

  • National Insurance number: A National Insurance number is a unique number assigned by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to individuals for social security and pension purposes. It is also used as a form of identification for tax-related matters.
  • Company Registration Number (CRN): Companies must register with Companies House and be assigned a CRN. It is also used as a form of identification for tax-related matters.
  • VAT registration number: VAT-registered businesses are assigned a VAT registration number by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). This number is used for identifying the business for VAT-related matters.
  • Self-Assessment registration number: Self-employed individuals and some partners in partnerships are required to register for Self Assessment with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and will be assigned a self-assessment registration number.

Using the correct HMRC number

Using the correct HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) number when communicating with them or filing taxes is important. Each number serves a specific purpose and is used to identify the individual or business for a specific tax-related matter.

For example, if you're a self-employed individual, you would use your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) when filing a self-assessment tax return and your National Insurance number when reporting your income to HMRC. On the other hand, a company would use its Company Registration Number (CRN) when filing Corporation Tax returns and its VAT registration number when submitting VAT returns.

Using the incorrect number could result in delays in processing your tax-related matters or even penalties for non-compliance. It is essential to ensure that you have the correct HMRC number and use it correctly to avoid confusion and ensure that your tax-related matters are handled efficiently.


What information do I need for the UTR registration number?

To register for a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number in the UK, you must provide certain information to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The specific information required may vary depending on your individual circumstances, but typically, you will need to provide the following:

  • Personal information: This includes your name, address, date of birth, and contact details.
  • Business information: If you are registering for a UTR as a business, you will need to provide information about the company, such as its name, trading address, and type of business.
  • Tax information: You will need to provide information about your tax status, such as whether you are self-employed or in a partnership.
  • Identification documents: You may be required to provide proof of identity, such as a passport or driving license, and proof of address, such as a utility bill or bank statement.
  • Bank account information: You must provide your bank account details to receive any payments from HMRC.

When will a UTR not be issued?

In some cases, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) may not issue a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number. Some of the reasons for this include the following:

  • Incomplete or incorrect information: If the information you provide to HMRC needs to be completed or corrected, they may be unable to process your application and issue a UTR.
  • Tax fraud concerns: If HMRC suspects that you are attempting to commit tax fraud, they may not issue a UTR as part of their efforts to prevent fraud.
  • Non-compliance with tax laws :If you have a history of non-compliance with tax laws, such as failure to file tax returns or pay taxes, HMRC may not issue a UTR as a form of enforcement action.
  • Non-residency: You must be a resident of the UK to be eligible for a UTR.
  • Not a taxable person: If you are not a taxable person, such as an employee earning below the tax-free allowance, you may not need a UTR.

Where to find the tax reference number?

The tax reference number is available on the P60 form. The employers will give you the form at the end of every tax year. It will reflect how much tax you have paid and the amount of National Insurance and income tax. If you are no longer associated with the employer, it will reflect in the P45 form.


Using the correct HMRC number, such as UTR, is important when communicating with HMRC or filing taxes. Incomplete or incorrect information, tax fraud concerns, non-compliance with tax laws, non-residency and not being a taxable person are some of the reasons why a UTR may not be issued. The UTR can be found on tax returns, correspondence from HMRC, online services, VAT registration number and self-assessment registration number. It is important to keep the UTR number safe and use it correctly to ensure that your tax-related matters are handled efficiently.

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