This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

PAYE Manual

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

If you need to trace an employer record and you hold the district number and the employer reference you should use the ‘search’ facility as described at PAYE120010 otherwise you should follow the instructions below.

As a minimum at least one of the following combinations must be entered but you can complete as many additional fields as you require

  • Employer name
  • Postcode
  • Street name, street type, and employer name
  • Town and employer name
  • Town, street name and street type
  • Address lines 1 and 2

The additional fields include

  • Postcode
  • Employer name
  • Office numeral
  • Employer reference
  • Accounts office reference
  • Address (excluding postcode)

Note: An example of a street name would be High, Rose, Front and an example of a street type would be Street or St, Road or Rd, Lane or Ln.

If you only have partial information for the district number, employer reference, accounts office reference, employer name and postcode

  • An asterisk (*) can be substituted for one or more of the unknown characters

Note: The asterisk must follow immediately after the last character supplied - an asterisk cannot be the first character in a field - an asterisk cannot be used if you only have the postcode. When searching for a limited company it is advisable to use an asterisk immediately after the employer name as this will return results for both Ltd and Limited.

  • Always enter at least four letters if possible before the asterisk, although three may also produce a match. The system will search the index for all records where the name entered starts with those letters

If exceptionally you only hold the accounts office reference and you hold no other employer details, you can trace the employer using ETMP.

Where no records are found a warning message will be displayed.

Where more than 50 records are found a warning message will be displayed advising you to refine your search.

If fewer than 50 records are found these will be displayed in groups of 10 on the Trace Employer - Results screen. They will be displayed

  • In groups of 10

You can use the [Forward] and [Back] buttons to display the next 10 records

Should you wish to refine your search at any time you can

  • Select the [Refine Search] button

This will display

  • The Trace Employer screen
  • The fields will be populated from your previous trace

If you select the [Cancel] button this will take you back to

  • Trace Employer screen and all fields will be blank

The results will display the most up to date information held on the NPS system and may not always appear to relate to the employer you are trying to trace. To confirm you have traced the correct employer record

  • Select the View Record icon at the right hand side
  • You will be presented with the Employer Summary screen
  • View the name and or address to confirm you have traced the correct record


  • You can use the [Forward] and [Back] buttons to display the details from the Results Summary Screen

If the employer reference has been traced, before you issue automatic or manual correspondence to the employer, check

  • The Employer Business Service (EBS) to ensure that the address matches

    • If not, use the address on EBS
  • That the RLS signal is not set on EBS because this

    • Is not visible on NPS
    • Will inhibit all automatic output

Note: Contact telephone details can only be viewed through Employer Business Service (EBS).