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What is your PAYE reference number and where do you find it?

When you employ your first team member and run your first payroll, you’ll be sent a PAYE reference number by HMRC. It is critical to keep it safe because you’ll need it frequently. If you lose your PAYE reference number, don’t worry – we’ll show you where to find it!

Firstly, what is a PAYE reference number?

A PAYE reference number is a code that is assigned by HMRC to businesses that are registered as employers. This unique identifier is an alphanumeric combination of letters and numbers. It is made up of a three-digit HMRC office number, a forward slash followed by one or two upper case letters and a number unique to your business. It typically has this format 123 / YZ9876, but there are some exceptions.

The PAYE reference number is also sometimes called an Employer reference number (ERN), they are the same reference.

What is the reference number used for?

As an employer, you’ll need the PAYE reference number to set up your payroll scheme and to report weekly or monthly payroll information to HMRC. When you set up your payroll software this is a key piece of data required to get started. You are obliged to populate it on P45s, P60s, or P11Ds issued to former or current employees. Companies also need a reference number to buy employers’ liability insurance. It’s an essential number to ensure the efficient running of your company.

Your employees may need the PAYE reference so they can fill in their Self Assessment tax return. They may also use it to apply for tax credits and student loans. Hence, we recommend it is included on all payslips.

Where can I find my employer’s reference number?


PAYE reference numbers can be found in PAYE correspondence from HMRC. When you first registered for payroll, HMRC sent you an employer’s welcome pack. Also, any paper late payment notices will list it. Also, they are included in P45s and P60s you may have issued to leavers and employees respectively at the end of each tax year. We recommend including your PAYE reference number on your payslips so your staff can locate it easily.

If Square Mile Accounting looks after your payroll, we can also provide information.

We’re here to help

If you have any questions about PAYE or would like help with payroll, please get in touch with us – Call us today on 0203 282 7109 or email us.

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