Setting up as a sole trader can be a bit confusing (see our step-by-step guide here if you haven't done so already), and there are a number of things that you need to look out for.
In short, yes:
Note: you’re likely not a sole trader if you sell some unwanted items occasionally or you don’t plan to make a profit. For example, selling your old laptop on eBay is not considered trading, but buying and selling regularly on the same website might be.
If you own a limited company, you’re actually both an owner ("shareholder") and employee of your own company ("director").
While you don’t need to register as a self-employed in this situation, you will have to submit a tax return (all directors do) and also a separate corporate tax return for your business.
For example: Nadia works for Starbucks in the morning ("employee") and is an Uber driver in the evenings ("self-employed"). She will have to register for Self Assessment and file a tax return for her Uber income.
According to HMRC, you should register as soon as you start your self-employment. The “hard deadline” is 5th October of your second tax year - if you don’t register by then, you will be fined.
You will likely be fined - depending on how late you are and how large your tax bill would be. See this list of fines and penalties for more information.
If you are not starting out in self-employment within 28 days you cannot register yet.
However, if you have to send a tax return but did not send one last year, you still need to re-register for Self Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance.
You can find your National Insurance number (NINO) on previous payslips or any official correspondence from HMRC. It's made of two prefix letters, six digits, and one suffix letter. For example: AB 12 34 56 C.
Contrary to what you might have heard, your sole trader business's name does not need to be your own name. You can trade under your own name if you want, or you can choose another name.
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