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HMRC internal manual

PAYE Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

PAYE service trace and match employer / individual: trace and match: search

In your day to day work or when dealing with a work item, you can use ‘quick’ search if you know the

  • NINO (National Insurance number)
  • TRN (Temporary reference number)


  • Employer reference


If the system cannot trace a record, you will receive an error message advising you of this. If the result produces two records with the same NINO but different surnames this is because the system holds both the old and the new name. To check this is the same individual

  • View Name History details with Maintain Individual for each record

If you do not receive the results required for a NINO or TRN you can use Trace and Match (Individual), the Trace Individual screen will be displayed by selecting home, see PAYE120015.

Note: Not all the COP records at the time they were migrated to the PAYE Service held a forename and initial. For these cases ‘X’ will appear in both the forename and initial fields. If you come across any of these cases you should ensure you obtain the correct details and update the record.


The ‘quick’ search result will display

  • The office numeral and employer reference
  • The full name and address of the employer
  • The date ceased if applicable

If the ‘quick’ search does not find a live or ceased employer record

  • A warning message will be displayed

To make a further search you can

  • Overwrite the details with any changes to the employer reference and request a further search


  • Use Trace and Match (Employer). The Trace Employer screen will be displayed see PAYE120020 

This will display results for both live and ceased employers.

Note: Occasionally some employer references will contain more characters than the search field can display, you can enter the full details but you can scroll back using your keyboard arrow keys to view all the details entered.