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Self Assessment – Registering for the First Time

Self-Assessed Tax Return – Registering for First Time

If this is your first time claiming Seafarers Earnings Deduction then you must register as a self assessed taxpayer in order to claim back your tax from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Whilst this may initially sound like a complex and daunting process in reality there is only 3 simple initial steps that you must undertake in order to completing the registration. These are; registering as a self assessed taxpayer; registering for an online HMRC account and finally activating the online self assessment portal. Once you have completed these you will be fully registered as a self assessed tax payer and you will able to submit your tax return online which will allow you to claim  seafarers earnings deduction. Each of these steps is explained in further detail below.


Step 1 – Register as a self assessed taxpayer

If you’re not currently a self-assessed tax payer then step 1 involves registering with HMRC and obtaining a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). This can be completed entirely online and the vast majority of seafarers should follow HMRC’s guide “Register if you’re not self-employed“. This is because almost all seafarers are employees of a shipping company or agency and it is exceptionally rare for a seafarer to be classed as ‘self employed’. Once you complete this step confirmation of your self assessed status and your Unique Taxpayer Reference will be posted in a letter directly to your home address. As soon as you receive this letter return to this guide and proceed to step 2.

Additionally if you are currently or have previously submitted a self assessment return using an account then you will already have been assigned a UTR and you can skip to step 2. Your UTR can normally be found on the top right hand side of any letters or correspondence from HMRC. Alternatively if you are having difficulty locating your UTR then contact your account and request this number. 


Step 2 – Register for an HMRC online personal tax account

You can only complete this step once you have received a letter from HMRC and are in possession of your UTR. There are two actions you must complete in this step. The first is to registering for a ‘personal tax account’ on HMRC’s online service. You can do this by Clicking Here and following the automated registration process. Don’t worry this is a simple process and just follow the prompts and instructions on the screen.

Once you have successfully registered log into your online personal tax account and click on the link to request a self assessment activation code from the main homepage. HMRC will then send you a further letter containing an activation code for the online self assessment portal. This code is only valid for 28 days from the date of the letter. After this time the code will expire and a new activation code must be requested. Once you receive the activation code return to this guide and proceed to step 3.


Step 3 – Activate the self assessment portal.

Having successfully requested an activation code for the self assessment service HMRC will post you the following letter to your registered home address. 



It will contain a code which must be used within 28 days of the date shown on the letter. If you don’t use the code within the 28 day time frame you will need to log into your account and request a new activation code. In order to activate your self assessment portal you must log into your personal tax account and clicking ‘Activate Your Self Assessment’ as below:


Once you have completed this final step you are fully registered you are ready to move onto the final process which is submitting your self assessed tax return. For guidance on this follow our step by step guide to submitting your self assessment.

HMRC Self Assessment Step by Step Guide