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How to Register for Self Assessment (2021 Guide)

If you’re a freelancer, you’re technically self-employed. That means you’re in charge of your own taxes. You pay these taxes in the UK through Self Assessment. Below, we go through all the steps to teach you how to register for Self Assessment.

The 5 steps to register for Self Assessment are:

  1. Set up a Government Gateway account
  2. Keep your ID safe
  3. Answer the questions
  4. Choose Self Assessment
  5. Send it off

Below, I go into these steps in more detail, discussing when you need to register for Self Assessment, and a few extra things you need to be aware of when doing so.


When to Register for Self Assessment

You will need to register for Self Assessment after you make more than £1,000 from self-employment. This could be from selling products or services, and you will have until the 5th of October in your business’ second tax year to register for Self Assessment.

If you want to start your own business in the UK or become a sole trader, you will need to pay taxes and National Insurance contributions. To do this, you need to register for Self Assessment. This is the scheme that HMRC uses to allow self-employed people to fill out their tax returns each year.

For example, if you made more than £1,000 in the tax year running from the 6th of April 2020 to the 5th of April 2021, you have until the 5th of October 2021 to register as self-employed.
You might also want to register for Self Assessment without running your own business. If you want to make voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions or are required to be registered as self-employed for various benefits, you may need to think about registering for Self Assessment too. However, the main reason for doing so is usually because you are starting your own business.

A Quick Note

Before I go through the steps of registering for Self Assessment, it’s worth pointing a few things out. There are various schemes that go along with Self Assessment, such as the Construction Industry Scheme, which I will not be going into detail about in this article. There is also the issue of VAT, which you need to register for if your annual turnover is above £85,000. VAT is quite a complex system, and for that reason it deserves its own article in the future. If you want to learn more about it on your own, I recommend checking out the VAT area of the Gov.UK website.


5 Steps to Register for Self Assessment

1. Set Up a Government Gateway Account

Head here, follow the instructions and fill out the relevant information. Enter your email address, create a password and set a recovery word. This is used as an additional security measure for your account.registering for self assessment

2. Keep Your ID Safe

Get your Government Gateway ID and make sure you keep a copy of it in a safe place. This is what you will use to sign in to your account from now on.

3. Answer the Questions

Follow the steps and answer the questions on each page.

4. Choose Self Assessment

Make sure to read all of the information carefully as you go along. When you are asked which type of tax you would like to register for, make sure to choose Self Assessment.registering for self assessment

5. Send It off

Finish answering all of the questions and then hit View or Print, and then send it away.

Once you have sent your application for Self Assessment, you will be notified that HMRC have received it. They will tell you that they are processing it, and once this is complete you will receive your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number, probably by post. You will want to keep this safe.


How Long Does It Take to Register for Self Assessment Online?

It only takes a few minutes to register for Self Assessment online. It’s just a case of creating a Government Gateway account and following the instructions provided. It can then take around 20 working days for HMRC to finalise your application and complete the registration process.


Do I Have to Register for Self Assessment Every Year?

You do not have to register for Self Assessment every year. You do, however, need to submit your Self Assessment each year. This is how you pay your taxes as a sole trader, freelancer or other self-employed person.


Registering as a Sole Trader

If you are registering as a sole trader, you will still need to register for Self Assessment in the same way described above. When you register as a sole trader, you need to give your business a name. This can be your own name, or it could be a unique business name.

You don’t need to worry about registering your business with Companies House, but you will need to follow a few simple rules. Just make sure you don’t choose a name of another business, especially if that business is in the same industry as you! This seems obvious, but we need to cover all bases!

You also can’t put things like LTD or PLC in the name, as these are reserved for limited companies and public limited companies respectively. You can also find out more about picking a name for your business by checking the Gov.UK page about registering as a sole trader.


That’s How to Register for Self Assessment

Registering for Self Assessment is pretty easy! Once you know that you are ready to start your own business, you just need to head to the Gov.UK website and follow the steps above. Then, it’s a case of keeping the right records for your business and filling out your Self Assessment form each year.

If you want to learn more about all things business, from invoicing to keeping track of expenses, be sure to check out the rest of the articles on the blog.

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