Do UK companies have a TIN number?

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When you set up a company of your own, it is your responsibility to pay the taxes for your business. You are obligated to organise your national tax affairs, both within the United Kingdom and internationally, if applicable. A Tax Identification Number (TIN) is used by tax authorities in most countries to identify taxpayers. 

If you live and do business in the UK, you may not be familiar with the term TIN. It is important, however, for all entrepreneurs to understand what this means. The following guide will explain what a TIN number is, and outline other important terms and identifiers for managing your tax affairs.  

What is a TIN number?

The Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is an exclusive identifier appointed to a taxpayer as a means of identity for various tax and administration purposes. Each country, issuing authority or state has their own methodology for structuring a TIN. 

The TIN can be a combination of numbers, letters and symbols, varying in character length for each country or issuing authority. The most important aspect of a TIN number is that each one is unique and corresponds to a single business entity or individual. A TIN will never be duplicated or shared by anyone and should be kept safely in your records.

Does the UK issue TIN numbers?

The United Kingdom does not use the term “TIN” exactly, but it does issue numbers that are very similar in function. You may need a TIN number for use in a particular country if:

  • You are conducting business with an overseas company
  • Are running a company in another country
  • Are taking part in financial transactions outside of the UK

The countries in question will also ask you to provide them with your UK TIN number (or equivalent) before proceeding with any transactions and business.

We will now illustrate UK alternatives to a TIN number that you might need to be aware of as a business owner.

UK alternatives to TIN numbers

If you are a resident in the UK and are setting up your business in the country then you must be familiar with many other terms that are related to a TIN number and could assist in identifying you and your company. These include the ones listed below.

Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)

This is the number that is most closely related to a TIN number in the UK. You will obtain your UTR number as soon as you register your business as a limited company or enrol in a Self-Assessment with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) department. It is used to identify you (or your business) as an individual taxpayer and the system issues this automatically to individuals, companies or any type of organisation in the UK.

You will receive a UTR as soon as you register, and it may take up to 10 days to reach you by post. Your UTR is a 10-digit number and can be located on any correspondence or document from HMRC, including:

  • Your account statement
  • Tax return notice
  • Self-assessment
  • Payment reminders 

Alternatively, you can log in to your online profile on HMRC and easily locate it. If you are still unable to locate your UTR number, you can contact HMRC directly for assistance. Our helpful team of experts at Uniwide can also aid you with this request, should you need it. Once issued, a UTR will never change, so it is important to store the number in a safe and secure place to avoid theft or fraud.

To register for a UTR you are required to provide your full name, date of birth, address, national insurance number, the type of business activity your company will engage in and other basic details. 

Company Registration Number (CRN)

Companies House issues this number as soon as your business is registered with them. This unique eight-digit number is assigned only to incorporated businesses. You will receive a Company Registration Number (CRN) if you register as a limited liability partnership (LLP) or a limited company. Your CRN is public information and can be viewed on the online public register of companies at Companies House.

Although this code is not necessarily required for taxation purposes, your CRN is still an important number for you to secure safely in your records. You may require your CRN:

  • To identify your company
  • To open bank accounts
  • When issuing share certificates for your company

The CRN verifies the legal existence of your company and you are legally obligated to disclose your CRN across every piece of official company stationery. This includes your website, leaflets, brochures, letterheads, invoices and emails.

National Insurance Number (NI or NIN or NINO)

Every resident of the UK is assigned a NI number when they reach the age of 16. If you come to the UK to live and work and you are older than 16 then you will need to apply for a NI number yourself; it is a requirement for anyone who intends to work in the country. NI numbers are unique for every individual and will be active for the whole of a person’s life. Even if they leave the UK and come back several years later, they will use the same NI number that was first assigned to them. The NI number consists of two letters followed by six numerical digits and lastly another letter.

Your NI number is not used for identity purposes but is applicable for tax contributions and any tax reductions or refunds you apply for. Other government entities may ask you for your NI number as well, such as:

  • The National Health Service (NHS)
  • Your bank and loan providers
  • The local council, borough or district in which you reside
  • Pension providers

A percentage of your gross salary will be deducted as your National Insurance Contribution (NIC), and this will vary according to how much you earn. These contributions go towards your pension, disability or sickness allowance and unemployment benefits. You can locate your NI number on payslips, tax letters and on your P60 form. Outside the UK, especially in the United States, the NI number is related to the Social Security (SS) number.

Employer Reference Number (ERN)

In many countries across the world, the ERN is known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). In the UK, however, businesses that register as an employer with HMRC are assigned an Employer Reference Number (ERN). The country’s tax office uses this number to identify you as an employer who has employees above the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) threshold. If none of your employees are paid £120 or more per week, then you do not need to register for PAYE and you will not need to apply for an ERN.

You can locate your ERN number in any correspondence from HMRC, payslips and tax credits. You can identify it by looking for a number that is split into two by a slash. The first part of the number will consist of three digits that correspond to your HMRC office. The second part of the ERN number will refer to your business. 

VAT registration number

HMRC issues businesses with a VAT registration number when they enrol for Value Added Tax. This nine-digit number ensures smooth and efficient trade between national and overseas business entities. UK-registered business suppliers will have the prefix ‘GB’ attached to their VAT registration number. 

If a supplier provides you with an invoice that does not contain a VAT registration number, you must contact them immediately before going ahead with any transaction. You will not be able to reclaim VAT without a valid VAT registration number, so it is important that you check your and your supplier’s number at all times. To confirm whether a VAT registration number is valid, you may contact HMRC directly to find out or you can enlist our help to assist you with this task. 

Navigating the complex world of bookkeeping and accounting can be an overwhelming task. It is made all the more daunting if you are attempting to manage a business by yourself. Uniwide Formations steps in to aid with many of your business needs and help you manoeuvre even the most complex auditing situations. Contact us to find out more about how you can enlist in our services today.

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