If you are an artist or creative industry professional working for yourself and earn more than £1000 per year, you will need to register as self-employed. You still need to do this, whether or not you bring in an annual income below your taxable personal allowance.

You are probably a self-employed/sole trader if you:

  • can decide how, where and when you do your work
  • charge an agreed fixed price for your work
  • sell goods or services to make a profit

More indication on whether or not you are one can be found here.

How do I register?

One way to do this is by telling Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and registering for a Unique Tax Reference (UTR).

A UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference) number is a 10 digit number that is unique to either you or your company. Your UTR number identifies you personally with HMRC for things related to your tax obligations.

For many this may appear a bit scary but the process is simple and all you need to do at the end of each year (usually end of January) is fill in a self-assessment form. This form simply asks what you have earnt and what you have spent, and even if you only earnt £100 but spent £150 in one month it’s no problem. As long as you inform HMRC each year.

5 Simple Steps:

  1. Register online at https://www.gov.uk/log-in-file-self-assessment-tax-return/register-if-youre-self-employed
  2. You’ll then get a letter with your 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and:
  3. Be enrolled for the Self Assessment online service at the same time
  4. You’ll also get a letter within 10 working days (21 days if you’re abroad) with an activation code. You’ll need this when you first log in to your online account.
  5. Or you can fill paper forms, print off and post to HMRC at https://public-online.hmrc.gov.uk/lc/content/xfaforms/profiles/forms.html?contentRoot=repository:///Applications/NICs_iForms/1.0/CWF1_20167&template=CWF1.xdp

Here is a simple video showing you how to:


Why should I register?

3 Reasons Why You Should Apply for a UTR Number

  1. You keep all things above board and are confident that you won’t be liable for any tax on unclaimed earnings.
  2. If you seek funding, grant or a loan you can clearly evidence that you have been registered as self-employed.
  3. You can access government funded business support programs such as Culture+.