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1 December 2020: HMRC has temporarily suspended the requirement for an activation code to be sent in the post before taxpayers can access the self assessment online filing service.

The normal process for taxpayers who want to sign up to file a self assessment (SA) tax return online involves HMRC sending an activation code through the post. This can take up to 10 days to arrive and the code expires after 28 days.
Overseas taxpayers often receive the code after it has expired. Taxpayers waiting for their code frequently phone HMRC for an update, especially in the days leading up to the 31 January filing deadline.

To simplify the process and reduce contact to HMRC helplines, HMRC has temporarily suspended the requirement for an activation code. Individual SA taxpayers who already have a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number will be automatically enrolled into the SA online service if they enrol from a business tax account (ie, select an organisation account). These taxpayers will get immediate access to the SA online services if they can pass identity verification checks, instead of having to wait for a code in the post.

Taxpayers who cannot complete the identity verification checks will revert to the usual process and an activation code will be sent in the post. The authentication code requirement has been suspended only for individual SA taxpayers; enrolling for all other HMRC services will still require a code in the post. Once the taxpayer has enrolled for SA online, they will also have access to other SA online services, such as appointing an agent or viewing their SA account.