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What is Government Gateway? A Complete Guide 

by | Jan 10, 2024

There’s a lot of jargon to get to grips with when you jump ship from the 9-5. All of a sudden you’re deciding your own hours, you’re responsible for your own tax return, and you’re accessing portals that you didn’t even know existed. 

If you’re a freelancer or sole trader, the chances are you’ve heard of Government Gateway. You’ll use your Government Gateway ID to login to HM Revenue and Customs to complete and submit your annual self-assessment tax return, so it’s really important that you understand how it works! 

We’ve put together this simple breakdown of the Gov Gateway platform so that you can go confidently about filing your records as a freelancer. 

What’s Government Gateway? 

This answer’s a little more complicated than you’d expect, because technically Government Gateway doesn’t exist anymore. 

Government Gateway was the system used to sign up for the UK Government’s online services. Most people used to sign in to Gov Gateway in order to submit their self-assessment tax return

The original Government Gateway platform was shut down back in March 2019, and replaced with HMRC Online Services

The reason that the name has stuck is because you still use your Government Gateway login ID to access HMRC, which is where you file your self-assessment tax return. So it’s still a phrase that you’ll see often! 

What’s my Government Gateway ID?

Your Government Gateway ID essentially a 12-digit user name that comes with a password that allows you to access HMRC’s Online Services. You might also hear people referring to their Government Gateway ID as a Government gateway login, self assessment login, HM Revenue and Customs self assessment login, or saying that they use it to log into Government Gateway. This is just because the platform has had quite a few different names, but don’t worry – they’re all talking about the same thing!

You receive your Government Gateway ID when you sign up to use HMRC’s Online Services in order to fulfill legal requirements such as submitting your self-assessment tax return or any applicable corporation tax. So it’s an important thing to sort out when you become a sole trader, as it’s your login for HMRC self assessment! Think of it as your gateway to government requirements and making sure they’re all ticked off. 

Where can I find my Government Gateway ID?

If you’re wondering where to find your Government Gateway ID, the quickest way is to locate the email you received when you first registered with HMRC’s Online Services. You may also have received it in the post to your registered address. So it’s worth checking back through your paperwork! 

I’ve lost my Government Gateway ID. What should I do?

In the case of a lost Government Gateway ID, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you try your ID and password five times and get it incorrect each time, HMRC will lock you out of your account to protect your security. So you might want to hold off on guessing! 

If you’ve lost your Government Gateway ID, you can use the official website to recover it. You can either perform a simple password reset, or retrieve your ID. If it’s your ID that you need to find, you’ll be asked for a few details including your email address, national insurance number and postcode. So make sure you have them to hand! 

What changes to Government Gateway can we expect in 2024?

Following on from the change from Government Gateway to HMRC Online Services, we can expect even more changes to the way that you access HMRC. Government Digital Service chief executive Tom Read has openly discussed plans to migrate the millions of Government Gateway users across to a new GOV.UK One Login platform, and then onboarding hundreds of other citizen-facing services from across government. This will mean that individuals will have a single username and password to access any government service, streamlining their experience of the UK Government’s digital services.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a Government Gateway ID the same as UTR? 

Now, your Government Gateway ID is not the same as your Unique Taxpayer Reference number. Your Gov Gateway login is a 12-digit number you use to access HMRC Online Services, so you use it as your login for self assessment tax return completion. A Unique Taxpayer Reference number (UTR) is a 10-digit number that uniquely identifies you or your business. 

You get a UTR when you register for self assessment or set up a limited company, and you can find it at the top of your tax return. To find out more about UTRs, check out this Government webpage

Do Government Gateway IDs expire?

You may find that you need to enter a 12-digit activation code the first time you use a HMRC service. If you do, you’ll be notified – and you’ll get your activation code by post within 10 days. This activation code has an expiration date that will be clearly stated, so make sure you use it in time! If it does expire, you’ll have to request a new one, which could delay you accessing the services you need using your login (Government Gateway). 

How do you get a Government Gateway ID?

How to get a government gateway ID is pretty straightforward. You’ll need your name, an email address, a password and a memorable word, which you might find that Government Gateway calls a ‘recovery word’. You can find more details on how to set up your Government Gateway ID here. Once you’re done, you’re ready to login for self assessment and other Government services! 

How can I contact HMRC? 

There isn’t just one HM Revenue and Customs contact number. If you’re looking for a number for HMRC, there are a few that you can use. It all depends on your enquiry. You can find a variety of numbers for HMRC on the Government’s contact page – though you might find that you get a faster response using the HMRC App or online contact services.