If you employ someone - even if it's only yourself - you'll usually need to register as an employer with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Most new employers can register online, but some will need to register by email, by telephone, or with an HMRC office.
This guide explains who needs to register as an employer, what information you'll need with you when you register, when you need to register and how to do it. It also explains who will need to register by email, telephone or at an office.
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As soon as you first employ someone, you will need to register as an employer with HMRC if any of the following is true:
You might need to register as an employer even if you're the only person working in your business (perhaps because you're the only director of your limited company). If any of the conditions above apply to you as an employee, you'll need to register - you'll be both the employer and employee.
If you need to register as an employer you can do so in advance of the first payday. You should start the process in plenty of time because:
Please note if you register and don't file anything with HMRC for 120 days your PAYE scheme will be cancelled and you will have to re-register.
If you want to avoid your PAYE scheme being cancelled because there's no activity you should register by email or by telephone - don't use the online tax registration service. Find out why HMRC may cancel your scheme in 'Automatic cancellation of a PAYE scheme' - there's a link below.
To register as an employer you'll need the following information to hand. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are necessary and you will not be able to register without providing that information.
Your business is a partnership
Your business is a limited company
Your business is not a partnership or a limited company
Please also provide:
Please also provide:
Please also provide:
You don't need the National Insurance numbers if they are a director of a non-UK based company or have been advised by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that they do not qualify for a number (which may be due to residency status abroad).
Most employers can register online using HMRC's online tax registration service as explained below. But there are exceptions for some employers who must register in another way - so check you don't fall into one of the more unusual situations listed later in this section. And if you want to avoid your PAYE scheme being cancelled because there's no activity you should register by email or by telephone.
To register as an employer follow the step-by-step process within the online tax registration service. You register as an employer and enrol for the PAYE Online service in a single visit, so you'll want all the information listed above to hand before you start. Help text is available should you need it as you work through the registration process.
Note that if you have previously registered for Self Assessment Online as an individual, and you want to keep the same User ID and password to register as an employer, you will need to 'de-enrol' from Self Assessment and then 're-enrol' by choosing Self Assessment from the group of services under the heading 'Organisations'.
Please note that you must have a separate organisation Government Gateway account (User ID and Password) for each PAYE scheme that you want to register with HMRC. This will allow HMRC to automatically enrol the PAYE scheme for PAYE Online once your registration application has been processed.
And that's it. Now you must wait for a letter in the post. This will contain the Activation Code you need to activate the PAYE Online service the first time you access it, as explained later in this guide.
If you are one of the employers listed below, you can still register online, but you'll need to use a form on the HMRC website that sends your information securely by email to HMRC:
Once registered, you'll need to enrol for PAYE Online separately, as described later in this guide.
If you are one of these employers, you'll need to register by telephone by calling the HMRC New Employer Helpline:
If you are an individual employing someone to provide care and support in your home (for example, a carer) you may need to register by telephone - there's more about this in the guide 'Employing a carer or other domestic help in your home'.
Once registered, you'll probably need to enrol for PAYE Online separately, as described later in this guide.
Certain employers cannot register using the standard telephone or website methods. This is because their payroll affairs are unusual and require special attention from HMRC. If you are in one of the following categories:
You will need to register by writing to:
Customer Operations Employer Office
BP4009 Chillingham House
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
Alternatively, you can contact the Employer Helpline and they will take your name and telephone number and arrange for Employer Office to get in touch with you.
If you are a provider of incentive awards and use a Taxed Award Scheme to pay the basic rate tax due on non-cash awards, you should contact HMRC's Incentive Award Unit on Tel 0161 261 3269.
Once you've registered as a new employer with HMRC, you'll receive a letter by post headed 'New employer registration and reference numbers' containing your PAYE reference and Accounts Office reference. You should expect to receive this within five working days or so.
The letter also includes a link to the 'New Employer - getting started' guide. Everything you need to get started can be accessed from that guide.
If you registered using the online tax registration service, you'll also be automatically enrolled for PAYE Online - although you'll still have to activate it. You'll receive a second letter by post which contains your Government Gateway Activation Code, which can take up to ten days to arrive.
If you registered by a method other than the online tax registration service, such as the online email form, you will need to wait for your PAYE reference number to arrive and then enrol for PAYE Online for employers as described in the next section.
You must report certain payroll information online to HMRC before you can pay anyone, and you have to be enrolled with PAYE Online before you can do that - so you should enrol as soon as you can. If you weren't able to register as an employer using the online tax registration service, you have to enrol for PAYE Online yourself.
If you used the email or telephone service you need to take action now and can enrol for the PAYE Online service as soon as you've received both of these:
These reference numbers can be found on the letter headed 'New employer registration and reference numbers' sent to you by HMRC when you registered as an employer.
Enrolling for the PAYE Online service only takes a matter of minutes over the internet. But before you can actually start using the service, you'll need to wait for an Activation Code that will be sent to you by post from the Government Gateway, and then activate the PAYE Online service. The Activation Code will usually arrive within ten days of your enrolment.
The following are the main stages in the enrolment process:
And that's it. Now you must wait for a letter in the post. This will contain the Activation Code you need to access the service for the first time.
If you've already used another HMRC online service as an organisation (rather than as an individual):
You'll receive an Activation Code in the post within seven working days.
Regardless of which method you used to register as an employer, everyone has to activate the PAYE Online service.
To log on to the PAYE Online service, you start by entering your User ID and password.
The first time you log in you will also be asked to type in the Activation Code that was posted to you - then, the service will be activated.
This must be done within 28 days of the letter containing the Activation Code, or you'll have to request a new code from HMRC by logging in using your User ID and password, and providing the information requested. HMRC will send you a new PIN.
If you lose your Activation Code within its 28 day validity: