How to register as self-employed

Registering as self-employed is very straightforward, and it covers both the income tax and the National Insurance contributions (NIC).

If this is your first time

  1. Create a Government Gateway account.
  2. You'll receive a user ID at the email address you used above.
  3. Log back in to the Government Gateway and "add a tax". Select "Self Assessment" for the question “What type of tax do you want to add?”.
  4. Select "Sole Trader" from the options: individual, sole trader, partnership, or trust.
  5. Enter the date you started your self-employment.
  6. Submit more details, including National Insurance Number (here's how to get one).
  7. Submit basic details about the kind of self-employed work you do: “security guard”, “Uber driver”, “freelance designer”, etc.
  8. Review and click "submit". You’ll then be enrolled for the Self Assessment online service.
  9. You'll receive a letter with your 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) by post.
  10. You'll also receive another letter within 10 working days (21 days if you’re abroad) with an activation code. You’ll need this letter to activate your UTR.

If you’ve sent a return before

The process is quite similar, however instead you will have to use the CWF1 form. If you’ve signed up for the HMRC online service before, you will just use the same account.

You’ll also need to find your 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) from when you registered for Self Assessment previously.

If you work in the construction industry

HMRC treats subcontractors working in construction (builders, painters, carpenters, etc.) differently from most self-employed. Register with HMRC for the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) if you’re working in the construction industry as a subcontractor.

After you’ve registered as self-employed

  • Save your invoices and receipts - you'll need them if HMRC comes knocking.
  • File your Self Assessment tax return by January 31st every year.
  • Make payments to HMRC twice a year: on January 31st and July 31st.
  • Pay Class 2 (and maybe Class 4) National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
  • Register for VAT if you're making £85,000 (the threshold for the 2018-19 tax year) from self-employment.

For more details, check out our list of frequently asked questions and answers for self-employed registering for Self Assessment.

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