Tax Identification Numbers, commonly referred to as TINs, are used for official purposes to help with the management of taxation. In this blog, we will explain how a TIN works and how UK companies and directors use these identification numbers.
What is a Tax Identification Number (TIN)?
TINs identify taxpayers and help facilitate the administration of their national or cross-border tax affairs. These unique identifiers may be used in respect of an individual or a business such as a limited company.
The term ‘TIN’ is actually fairly generic and it can refer to a variety of different types of identification numbers worldwide, including:
- Taxpayer identification numbers – in the UK this is known as the Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
- Social security numbers – such as the National Insurance Number in the UK
- Company reference numbers – these are used to identify a specific company for various matters, not just related to tax
- A resident registration number
- A citizen or personal identification code or number
The structure and syntax of TINs differ according to the specific national authority. They are sometimes just a string of numbers but often also include letters. Crucially, a Tax Identification Number is always unique and identifies a single individual or business entity.
Are TINs used by UK companies?
The term ‘TIN’ is not used much in the UK. However, when dealing with foreign businesses or national authorities – particularly in America and the EU – there may be reference to TINs. Sometimes UK companies may be asked to provide their TIN in order to be able to carry out business abroad.
The two main types of unique identifying numbers in respect of companies in the UK are:
- Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
- Company registration number (CRN)
A Unique Taxpayer Reference is completely separate from the company registration number, and they are used for entirely different purposes.
The UTR is generally more akin to a Tax Identification Number, as it is used primarily for taxation. But the CRN is also required to identify companies for official purposes and may therefore also fall within the scope of a TIN.
Both of these numbers are extremely important and will need to be provided in much of the regular company administration, such as annual filings. We will consider them both in turn, below.
Unique Taxpayer Reference
All companies registered in the UK are automatically issued a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) by HMRC, when they are incorporated. This type of TIN is a unique 10 digit number that is used for purposes of Corporation Tax.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will issue a Unique Taxpayer Reference once a limited company has been registered for Corporation Tax. This number will then need to be used in any correspondence with HMRC, or when submitting forms, company accounts, or paying Corporation Tax.
When will I need to use my company’s UTR?
Some of the different occasions when a UTR needs to be provided include:
- Registering a company for Corporation Tax
- Registering a company for Value Added Tax (VAT)
- Registering a company for Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
- Payment of Corporation Tax
- Payment of VAT
- When paying company employees
- Filing annual Corporation Tax returns
- Filing VAT returns
- When a company needs to inform HMRC of a change to the business
- In order to change the Corporation Tax accounting period
- Informing HMRC that a company has become dormant
- In all other correspondence with HMRC
How can I find my Unique Taxpayer Reference?
The Unique Taxpayer Reference can be found on any previous tax returns or other documents from HMRC. These include notices to file a return and payment reminders. This TIN number can also be found by logging in to the online Corporation Tax account.
If the Corporation Tax UTR number has been completely lost, it is possible to request a copy from HMRC. There are two pieces of information that are required to request a new UTR: the company registration number and the registered company name. Once it has been successfully requested, the TIN will be sent by post to the company’s registered address as shown on Companies House.
Companies will be unable to request a copy of their Corporation Tax UTR in any of the following scenarios:
- If the company has been officially closed or dissolved
- If the company has been struck off and no longer appears on the public register of companies at Companies House
- If the company has since changed to a different form of business structure, such as a partnership, and is therefore no longer a registered company
Company registration number
The company registration number (CRN) is issued by Companies House as soon as a company has been registered.
It is used to identify each limited company and verify its legal existence. It is a unique combination of 8 characters, consisting of either 8 numbers or 2 letters followed by 6 numbers.
The CRN is displayed on the Certificate of Incorporation and all official correspondence from Companies House. It is also displayed alongside various company details in the public register of companies. Although it is not primarily used for taxation, the CRN may also be considered a Tax Identification Number, as it needs to be quoted for official purposes, some of which can relate to tax.
Similar to how the UTR needs to be provided in all dealings with HMRC, the company registration number has to be provided in respect of correspondence and filing of information with Companies House. It may also be requested by a variety of third parties such as financial institutions or trading partners.
When will I need to use my company registration number?
Some of the scenarios in which this number may need to be provided include:
- Confirmation statement – this needs to be filed every year and must contain the CRN to identify the company
- Company accounts – these also need to be filed every year along with the CRN
- Corporation Tax – the CRN needs to be provided when registering with HMRC
- VAT – the CRN needs to be provided when registering with HMRC
- PAYE – the CRN needs to be provided when registering with HMRC
- Updating company details – when details are updated with Companies House, including the registered office address or company name
- Shares – the CRN must be used when filing a Return of Allotment of Shares or when issuing share certificates
- Company officers – the CRN must be provided when appointing and removing company directors or company secretaries
- Bank accounts – the CRN will be needed when opening a business bank account in the name of the company
- Credit – financial institutions will need the CRN if providing credit
- Business stationery – the CRN must be displayed on all company stationery, including letterheads, websites, invoices, emails, and marketing material
When dealing with HMRC for Corporation Tax matters, it will often be necessary to quote both Tax Identification Numbers: the UTR and the CRN.
How can I find my company registration number?
The company registration number can be found on the Certificate of Incorporation or any official correspondence from Companies House. It can also be obtained on the public register at Companies House search.
1st Formations provide a free Online Company Manager facility where a whole host of information about your company can be found – including the company registration number.
TINs and company directors
As well as being used by UK companies, separate TINs identify individual company directors. All directors will have a National Insurance Number. Meanwhile, those who are self-employed will have an individual Unique Tax Reference (UTR). We will consider these below.
National Insurance Number
A National Insurance Number is a unique personal reference number that links individuals in the UK with their tax records, including personal National Insurance Contributions, social security benefits, tax payments, and student loans. This TIN is made up of 2 letters, 6 numbers, and a final letter. It is usually provided to UK residents 3 months before their 16th birthday.
Any company directors who pay themselves via PAYE will need their National Insurance Number. They are also required to claim benefits, apply for student loans, or to pay National Insurance Contributions. A National Insurance Number is used by a variety of organisations for official tax purposes, including:
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- Employers – to use in their PAYE systems
- Department for Work and Pensions – if someone claims state benefits
- Local councils – in respect of any claims for Housing Benefit
- Electoral Registration Officers – to check the identity of an individual when they register to vote
- Student Loan Company – in respect of any student loans
- Pension provider – in respect of personal or stakeholder pensions
- Individual Savings Account (ISA) provider
- Financial service providers – those authorised to help buy and sell investments like shares, bonds, and derivatives
How can I find my National Insurance Number?
There are various places to find one’s National Insurance Number, such as:
- On a payslip
- On a P60
- On any official correspondence relating to tax, pensions, or benefit payments
- In the relevant online personal tax account
If it is completely lost, it is possible to retrieve this TIN by filling in form CA5403 and sending it to the address on the form. Alternatively, contact the National Insurance numbers helpline and answer some questions.
Anyone who does not have a National Insurance Number can apply for one if they live in England, Scotland, or Wales. They must have the right to work in the UK and one of the following:
- A British passport
- A settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement scheme
- A visa or a biometric residence permit that is still valid
Unique Tax Reference (UTR)
We have already considered the Corporate Unique Tax Reference (UTR), which is used in respect of any company dealings with HMRC.
Company directors who need to fill out a Self Assessment tax return will also have a separate UTR number. This TIN is used for individual tax matters, namely Self Assessment, as opposed to Corporation Tax matters.
The Unique Tax Reference for individuals is also a 10 digit number, often with a K at the end. It is a unique number, automatically assigned when someone registers for Self Assessment. It remains with an individual throughout their life.