HMRC has introduced a workaround for those who need to register for self-employment and obtain a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) but have not been able to get a National Insurance (NI) number.
Why do I need to register as self-employed?
Unlike permanent employment, once you begin working as a self-employed individual, you will be responsible for paying your Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to HMRC. Once you start working as self-employed, you must register with HMRC. You can do this at any time up to the 5th October of your business’ second tax year.
How to apply for a National Insurance number (NINO)
If you are coming to work in the UK from overseas or do not already have a National Insurance Number (NINO), you will need to apply for an NI number. To obtain an NI number, you will need to call the NI application line and ask for an application form. You’ll need to return the application form, along with your proof of identity and your right to work in the UK.
Unfortunately, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is not carrying out face-to-face interviews in connection with applications for NINOs for individuals who come to the UK. Therefore, currently, the only applications available are for a NINO where an individual entered the UK on a work visa.
What is a NINO?
A NINO is a prerequisite for registering for self-employment with HMRC and makes sure the tax and NICs are correctly recorded against your name. It also acts as a reference number when communicating with HMRC.
As the DWP is not currently conducting face-to-face interviews, many individuals have not been able to register for self-employment and obtain a UTR as they have not been able to get a NINO.
How to register for self-employment without a NINO
HMRC advises that, as a temporary measure, anyone who needs to register for self-employment but has not obtained a NINO, should complete an SA1 form instead of the CWF1 form you would typically need to complete. The SA1 is usually used by anyone who needs to register for self-assessment but is not self-employed.
Guidance for completing the SA1 form
When completing the form, please use the following answers:
“Reason for no National Insurance number”
To answer this question, please use the following sentence; “Unable to get a NINO as the DWP are currently not holding face-to-face interviews due to COVID-19.”
“Why do you need to complete a tax return” or the box “any other reason”
To answer this section, please use insert “self-employed” as your answer and state the nature of employment.
What to do once you’ve received NINO
As soon as you’ve received a NINO, you will need to call the self-employed helpline on 0300 200 3500 and register for Class 2 National Insurance. HMRC will not charge Class 2 National Insurance until you have completed this step.
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