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HMRC internal manual

PAYE Manual

Employer records: maintain employer record: maintain employer name

You may learn of a change to the employer name in various ways. These may include

  • Correspondence from the employer, contractor or agent
  • Notification from another section or office
  • A memo from Banking Operations office or the Debt Management Office

On receipt of a notification of a change of name it is important that you determine whether the name requires updating or if there has been a change of ownership. Note: The employer name must not be updated if there has been a change to the legal entity of the employer. Each legal entity must have its own PAYE scheme.

No change in ownership

Where there is no change in ownership the scheme will continue to operate using the current employer reference.

Examples of situations involving no change of ownership are

  • A correction to an error in the name already held on screen
  • The owner has changed their name or title, for example Miss to Mrs
  • Where the shareholders of a limited company change

Note: Because the Employer Name is used on other correspondence, it must not include the name of any contact person (or department), or trading name this information must be entered in the Payroll Contact Name field.

Change in ownership

Where there is a change of ownership the scheme cannot continue to operate using the current employer reference. In these circumstances a new employer reference is required. Examples of situations involving a change of ownership are

  • A new owner due to the sale of a business
  • A charity changes status to a limited company
  • A change from a sole trader to a limited company or a partnership
  • A change from a partnership to a limited company, a sole trader or a new partnership
  • A change from a limited company to a sole trader, a partnership or a new limited company


1. A PAYE scheme for a partnership can continue when at least one of the partners is continuing in the partnership, together with at least 1 other new partner. There must be at least 2 partners to continue as a partnership scheme.
2. When a new company is registered at Companies House, a Company Registration number (CRN) is allocated to that company. Each limited company with a CRN is a different legal entity and must have its own PAYE scheme.
3. A change in a limited company name requires a ‘Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name’ (available from Companies House) as verification the amendment has taken place.

All of the above require you to set up a new employer record. For further information see section ‘Set up employer record’ PAYE20000 onwards.


Where a change of ownership of a business has taken place and the new owner takes over the old employer’s pay records a succession may be appropriate. In particular a succession should be considered where the change of ownership is from a

  • Sole trader to a limited company
  • Partnership to a limited company
  • Limited company to a sole trader
  • Limited company to a partnership
  • Limited company to a new limited company

The subject ‘Successions’ PAYE30045 gives further information.