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HMRC internal manual

Construction Industry Scheme Reform Manual

Verify subcontractor: overview: introduction


CISR51600 Action guide contents

Before making a first payment to a subcontractor the contractor must confirm that the subcontractor is known to HMRC, and registered within CIS and obtain details of their payment status. This process is known as ‘verifying the subcontractor’. The following modules are provided to explain the verification process and how you deal with specific cases.

All subcontractors working within the UK and involved in construction operations that fall within CIS should be ‘registered’ if they don’t want deductions made from their payments at the higher rate. See CISR42000 onwards for more detail on the process of registration.


Before making a first payment to a subcontractor the contractor must go online to ‘verify the subcontractor’. This is necessary so the contractor may find out from HMRC whether or not a deduction should be made from the subcontractor’s payment and, if so, at what rate. Thereafter, the contractor only needs to re-verify the subcontractor if they have not paid the same subcontractor within the current, or two previous, tax years. Essentially this means that provided payments continue a contractor may pay the subcontractor using the same payment status, (Gross, at the standard rate of deduction, or at the higher rate of deduction) for an indefinite period unless otherwise advised by HMRC.

A contractor or their appropriate representative can go online to carry out verification using a number of different methods, namely by:

  • Internet - using the Government Gateway


  • The contractor’s appropriate representative can be any one of the following:
  • Customer level or scheme specific agent
  • A wages clerk, representative from a payroll bureau or even the contractor’s spouse


Before making a payment and in addition to verifying the subcontractor online with HMRC the contractor will also be required to confirm that one of the following exists

  • a tender is in place
  • a contract has been signed
  • a work order is in place

Verification - general

An employee, or spouse of the contractor may verify subcontractors online in their capacity as payroll clerk and provided they have all the information relating to the contractor to pass ‘Authentication’ you should not refuse to verify a subcontractor to someone acting in this capacity. Refer to CISR21000 for details of how to authenticate a contractor or their authorised agent.

Contractor schemes

Verifications can only be recorded against an ‘active’ contractor scheme record.

Where the scheme is shown as

  • Superseded
  • Merged into another scheme
  • Transferred out

During online verification the contractor or their appropriate representative will be required to provide information obtained from the subcontractor, including all of the following:

  • Unique Taxpayer reference (UTR)
  • National Insurance Number (NINO) or Company Registration Number (CRN)
  • Name or trading name of registered subcontractor

Note: The subcontractor information will differ slightly depending upon the subcontractor type. (Individual, Partnership, Company or Trust). Refer to the list of action guides in CISR51600 for specific cases. Also where a subcontractor has not yet been allocated with a NINO verification may proceed in this instance without this information.

Successful verification

Where the check is successful the contractor will be given a system generated verification reference (VR) number (example V1234567890) that is unique. That one reference will be related to all the subcontractors verified on that occasion in relation to a particular contractor scheme.

Multiple schemes

Contractors will sometimes divide their business up into several ‘divisions’ and each division will be allocated a separate contractor scheme and Accounts Office and PAYE references.

For the purposes of verifications, any division of the same contractor may use the verification details for a subcontractor obtained by another division, but the payments being made by each division will need to be kept entirely separate and recorded on the Monthly Return for each division that has paid the subcontractor.

Deceased subcontractors

Before 27th October 2008, where a contractor attempted to verify a deceased subcontractor, the system will have displayed a message to say that

  • the subcontractor was deceased,
  • the verification should be ‘Unmatched’, and
  • a deduction at the unmatched rate should be made from any payment the contractor proposed to make to the estate of the deceased subcontractor.

From 27th October 2008, the system will now display for you the payment details for the deceased subcontractor along with the date of death. A message will also be displayed to you that says ‘The reference entered relates to a deceased subcontractor. Check guidance before proceeding’.

Where the contractor needs to make a payment to the estate of a deceased subcontractor whom they have not yet verified, the latest tax treatment is applied and create a matched verification.  Any verification request made more than six months after the date of death may be bogus or suspicious (depending on the circumstances). In these circumstances, setting an unmatched verification and asking the contractor to apply the unmatched rate of deduction may be appropriate.

Special cases

Where a payment is being made by a contractor in respect of a contract negotiated by a subcontractor who has since died, the payment may be made on the same basis as the subcontractor’s payment status at the date of death (either net or gross).