Employer Reference Number

Employer Reference Number (ERN)

What is it?

An Employer Reference Number (also referred to as an Employer PAYE Reference) is given to every business that registers with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as an employer. Businesses that pay any employee above the PAYE threshold are required to have an ERN, which is the reference number for their employees’ income tax and national insurance contributions. Some businesses are not assigned an ERN because all Employees (including labour only subcontractors, trainees, and apprentices) are paid below the PAYE threshold, your employees are paid as self-employed or via an agency, your employees are unpaid volunteers, or your business is base din the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

How to get an ERN number

You should get a Employer Reference Number when you register with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as an employer.

Where can I find it?

You can find your ERN on your HMRC employer’s welcome pack when you register, on HMRC letters or emails about PAYE, as well as on the P45, P60, P11/D, and sometimes on payslips. This reference is made up of two parts: a three-digit HMRC office number, and a reference number unique to your business. It will usually look something like 123/A45678 or 123/AB45678, though there can be exceptions.

Where do I find my ERN number?

See our previous answer under ‘Where can I find it?’.

Why does my broker need it?

You will need it if you buy employer’s liability insurance. The Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) has set up a database to help employees identify their past employers’ insurers, making it easier to claim – this helps identify firms an employee has worked at if there is a claim a long time after the event. Therefore insurers need the Employee Reference Number provided by employer.

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