Registering with HMRC online for new businesses

Registering with HMRC online, is quick, relatively easy and efficient (usually).  This note is aimed at anyone who’s new to the system and needs to register to file a tax return.  Known as registering for self-assessment.   It’s not intended for limited companies.  HMRC is an abbreviation of HM Revenue and Customs, the UK’s tax authority also known as the tax office.

If you’ve filed a tax return in the past, and have a 10 digit number called the UTR, or unique taxpayer reference, you don’t need to register each year.

Sole traders, self-employed people, freelancers and landlords

If you’re new to self-employment or self-assessment tax returns HMRC’s website can be confusing.  HMRC uses the government site, for its online services now.  It’s the same site you’ll use to pay your car tax,  renew your passport, look into benefits etc.  Easy to find, easy to read and full of information that may or may not apply to you.

It’s easy to sign up for online services, or your ‘Personal Tax Account’, but please don’t assume that registers you to file a tax return.  It doesn’t.   You may have a Government Gateway Account, Personal Tax account, or Verify account, but you’re not registered for self-assessment unless you have a UTR.

To register for self-assessment

If you have no unique taxpayer reference (UTR), you’re not registered to file a tax return.  Your first step in registering with HMRC gives you access to the online service too.  This link has options for everyone, whether or not you have a government/online services account.


The deadline for registering for self-assessment is 5th October following the end of the tax year.  So for the 2017/18 tax year, which ended 5th April 2018, you need to be registered before 5th October 2018.

The tax return filing and payment deadline is 31st January 2019.

Not sure where you’re up to?

Please get in touch, we can help with everything from registering you, to helping with your business records and preparing and filing your tax return.