Get started with HMRC Online Services for agents

Using HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Online Services can save you - and your clients - time and money. You can carry out many tasks online including registering your client's business for tax purposes, submitting tax returns, forms and declarations, making payments, requesting refunds, and viewing your clients' accounts.

Some forms and returns can now only be submitted online and others will soon follow, so it makes sense to make use of HMRC's online services as soon as possible.

This guide will give an overview of what services are available for agents and tell you where to find out more about signing up.

On this page:

Computer requirements for HMRC Online Services

HMRC recommends minimum browser specifications to use their online services successfully. There are also some additional computer requirements for HMRC's Corporation Tax online filing software.

Find technical help on computer browser specifications

How to use HMRC's Corporation Tax for Agents online service

Software options

You can use HMRC Online Services, their software or commercially produced software to deal with HMRC online. You can also develop your own software but you need to make sure it's compatible with HMRC systems.

More about HMRC and commercial software options

Find detailed guidance for developing software for HMRC services

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Signing up for HMRC Online Services for agents

Before you can use HMRC Online Services for Agents, you'll need to register for HMRC Online Services - and then enrol for each service you want to use. For example, if you are handling Self Assessment and PAYE for employers issues for your clients, you need to enrol for both the Self Assessment and PAYE for Agents online services.

Find out more about what you can use HMRC Online Services for and how to sign up by following the links below.

How to use the Self Assessment for Agents online service

How to use the Corporation Tax for Agents online service

How to use the PAYE/CIS for Agents online service

How to use VAT online services for Agents

How to use Stamp Taxes Online

How to sign up for Machine Games Duty for Agents

How agents can use the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals online service

How to use the Charities for Agents online

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Activation Codes for HMRC Online Services

As part of the setting-up process, you'll be given a User ID. This will appear on-screen and you must make a note of it and keep it secure. HMRC will send you an Activation Code (also known as an Activation PIN) by post within seven days of registering and you'll need this to complete the process.

Please note: you must activate the online service within 28 days of the date on the letter or you'll have to enrol again for the relevant online service(s).

What to do if you don't receive or you lose your Activation Code

If you have your User ID and password but haven't received your Activation Code within seven days of registration, you should check with the Online Services Helpdesk to ensure that HMRC has your correct address and postcode.

Contact the Online Services Helpdesk

Contact the VAT Online Services Helpdesk

If you have lost your Activation Code within 28 days of registering, you can request a new code online by following the steps below:

  • Go to the Government Gateway website.
  • Log in to your online account using your User ID and password.
  • On the 'Your Services List' follow the 'Activate' link under 'Action' for the relevant service.
  • Follow the 'Request a new Activation Code' link.

You'll receive your new Activation Code from the Government Gateway, usually within seven days. When received, use your User ID and password to log in to HMRC Online Services and activate the service. You must do this within 28 days of the date shown on the Activation Code letter.

What to do if your Activation Code has expired

If the 28-day period has lapsed and you haven't activated the online service, you must request a new Activation Code. Simply:

  • log in to your HMRC Online Services account with your User ID and password
  • select the online service you want to set up - for example VAT for Agents - and follow the on-screen instructions to enrol for the service again

You'll receive your new Activation Code from the Government Gateway, usually within seven days. When received, use your User ID and password to log in to HMRC Online Services and activate the service. You must do this within 28 days of the date shown on the Activation Code letter.

Please note - you won't be able to set up client authorisations until you have activated the online service. This activation can take up to four working days.

Log in to HMRC Online Services

Go to the Government Gateway website (Opens new window)

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Get client authorisation using online services

Once you've signed up for one or more of HMRC's online services for agents, you need to go through the client authorisation process for each of your new or unauthorised clients. Generally, this allows HMRC to deal with you online, by phone or in writing about each of your client's tax matters.

Please note: the process for getting authorisation is different if you're making a repayment claim on behalf of a charity or Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC).

How to get authorisation to act on a client's behalf

Get client authorisation using HMRC Online Services

Get authorisation to make a repayment claim on behalf of a charity or CASC

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Online administrators and assistants

The first person to set up your HMRC online agent account is called an 'administrator' for online service purposes. The administrator can appoint other administrators and/or assistants to help you manage your clients' tax matters online. This is a useful facility if you want to allocate specific clients to different people in your organisation.

What administrators can do

Administrators can perform tasks online on behalf of your organisation. These include:

  • accessing an online service that your organisation is enrolled for
  • enrolling for and de-enrolling from online services
  • assigning services to other administrators and assistants
  • creating and deleting other administrators
  • creating and deleting online assistants

Administrators can also change their registration details - their password, user name or email address.

What assistants can do

Assistants are created by administrators and can only access services they've been assigned. Assistants can:

  • access any online service that your organisation is enrolled for providing that an administrator has assigned the service to them
  • change their registration details - their password, user name or email address

Setting up administrators and assistants

You set up administrators and assistants on the Government Gateway website.

Simply log in to your online Government Gateway account and select either 'Add an Administrator' or 'Add an Assistant' and follow the on-screen instructions.

Administrators and assistants can access their services as soon as you set them up. If an administrator sets up an assistant, the assistant will also have immediate access to their allocated services.

Managing client lists

You can use administrators and assistants to manage client lists for you. For example, if your business has offices in different locations, you can set up online client lists for each office.

First someone in your 'main' office needs to register and enrol your firm for the relevant HMRC Online Service - for example VAT for Agents - and activate your online account, if not already done. This person is the main administrator for your online agent account.

Once the main administrator has activated the service, they can log in to your Government Gateway account and set up other administrators and/or assistants for each office. Each administrator and/or assistant will have their own User ID and password for your agent's online account. The Administrators can log in to your account to set up specific client lists for other administrators and assistants to manage. They allocate new clients to a particular client list by choosing the 'Manage Clients' option.

Log in to your Government Gateway account (Opens new window)

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How to register a business using online services

You can register your client's business online for tax purposes using HMRC's Online Tax Registration Service.

Read more about how to register your client's business with HMRC

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Get help with online services

The online services pages on the HMRC website show how you can get further help. You can download helpsheets, view demonstrations of the services and read answers to frequently asked questions.

You can also call or email the HMRC Online Services Helpdesk or the HMRC VAT Online Services Helpdesk.

Find out about HMRC Online Services

How to contact the HMRC Online Services Helpdesk

How to contact the HMRC VAT Online Services Helpdesk

Find help and guidance on preventing IT-related tax fraud (PDF 50K)

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