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File your PAYE in-year forms online: P45, P46, etc

If you have 50 or more employees, you must send a number of your in-year PAYE forms online to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). These are the employee starting and leaving forms, P45 and P46, P46(Pen) and P46(Expat).

If you have fewer than 50 employees then online filing of these forms isn't required until 2011. But it's a good idea to start earlier than that - online filing is easy, quick, convenient and secure.

This guide tells you what you need to know to start filing your in-year forms online. It explains the different online filing options you can use, and it keeps you up to date with any changes to the forms or procedures involved.

On this page:

Important updates and changes

Currently there are no updates or changes.

Latest information on technical issues affecting PAYE online filing

Please follow the links below to check for any current service issues.

Check service availability for PAYE Online

Check whether any service issues are currently affecting PAYE Online

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Deadlines for starting to file online

If you have 50 or more employees

You must file the in-year forms in the table below online. If you send them to HMRC on paper you may have to pay a penalty.

If you have fewer than 50 employees

Employers with fewer than 50 employees will have to file these in-year forms online from 6 April 2011. However you can start to file online as soon as you wish - see below for details of the benefits of starting early.

Form When to use
P45 Part1 When an employee leaves your business
P45 Part3 When a new employee starts
P46 When a new employee starts, but has no P45 from their previous employer
P46(Pen) For sending details of a new pension or annuity that you start to pay.
P46(Expat) For certain employees seconded to work in the UK - see the section 'New forms and those no longer in use' for details.

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If you file using the wrong method

If you are required to file your PAYE in-year forms online, but send paper forms instead, you may be charged a penalty.

Penalties for failing to file PAYE online

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Fewer than 50 employees - benefits of starting early

The 2011 deadline may seem some way off - but the sooner you start filing online, the sooner you'll see the benefits it brings.

It's quick, secure and convenient, and it cuts down on errors and the delays they can cause. So why not get ready and start early? If you start filing online before the 2011 deadline, you'll have plenty of time to learn how the process works and to get used to any new software or business processes.

A useful first step to take is to check that anyone involved in running your payroll will be ready for online filing. For example, if you have offices in different locations that issue their own forms P45 and P46, make sure that everyone:

  • understands how to file online
  • has the necessary equipment and software to file online
  • knows that they'll have to file the forms online from 2011

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What you need to get started

Registering for online filing

Before filing online, you'll need to register to use the 'PAYE Online for employers' service. You'll also need to activate the service before you start to file. This can take up to seven days, as you need to wait for an Activation Code to arrive in the post.

How to register for PAYE online filing

Online filing options

One you've registered with HMRC to file your PAYE forms online, you can file your in-year forms online using any of the following methods:

  • Commercial payroll software: You enter the relevant details into your software package, which then files the necessary forms to HMRC.
  • HMRC's free 'Online Return and Forms - PAYE' service: This service is available on the HMRC website, and is most suited for employers with small numbers of in-year forms to file.
  • An agent or payroll bureau: The agent or bureau files online on your behalf.
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): EDI is generally suited for large employers only. It has a separate registration process and requires more complicated software and telecommunications links.

You're not restricted to using just one of these options - you can mix and match. For example, one of your branches might file online using commercial software while another uses the free service on HMRC's website.

Is your software up to date?

If you use commercial software, you'll need to make sure it's capable of filing your forms online. You should also ensure that your software is kept up to date.

Please note that since April 2009 all payroll software must have the 'IR Mark' feature, which generates a confirmation receipt for the forms you file. If you're unsure about whether your software has this feature, check with your software provider.

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Get your in-year filing right

If you use commercial software to file an in-year form online, HMRC's validation service will send your software an acknowledgement for successful submissions or an error message for those that fail. When a submission fails, you must correct the form and file it again.

If you use HMRC's 'Online Return and Forms - PAYE' service to file an in-year form, any errors will be highlighted for you to correct before you file the form.

You can find a list of the most common errors that cause submissions to fail in another guide - use the link below.

Common errors to avoid when filing forms P45 and P46 online

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New forms and those no longer in use

The following forms are no longer in use:

  • P160 - replaced by P46(Pen)
  • P160 (PENNOT) - replaced by P46(Pen)
  • A5-sized form P45 - replaced by A4-sized P45

Form P46(Pen)

You should use form P46(Pen) for all new pension payments.

  • Don't use a standard form P46 instead.
  • Use P46(Pen) even if the person you'll be paying the pension has given you a form P45 Part 3.

Remember, if you have 50 or more employees you must file form P46(Pen) online.

You can find out more about how to use form P46(Pen) in the latest versions of HMRC's Employer Helpbook E13, 'Day-to-day payroll' and CWG2, 'Employer Further Guide to PAYE and NICs' Both of these are available for download - use the link below.

Forms and publications for employers

A4 version of form P45

The A5 version of form P45 was withdrawn on 6 April 2009. You must use the A4-sized version. The A4-sized form contains two new fields that must be completed - the employee's gender and date of birth.

Printing parts 1A, 2 and 3 of form P45 after filing part 1 online

If you use HMRC's free 'Online Return and Forms - PAYE' service, then you can print Parts 1A, 2 and 3 of form P45 after filing Part 1 of the form (containing details of the employee leaving) online. You must do this using black ink on white A4 paper. This facility is also available in some commercial payroll software packages.

You can also order printer-ready versions of form P45 from the HMRC Employer Orderline. There are separate versions for use with:

  • high-speed laser printers
  • other laser and non-impact printers
  • impact printers

Go to the HMRC Employer Orderline

Accepting old-format P45s from new employees

If you're not yet required to file your in-year forms online and, exceptionally, a new employee gives you an old A5-sized form P45 Part 3 from their previous employer, then you may still use it to let HMRC know that the employee has started work with you. However you must complete the date of birth field - this is no longer an optional field.

Form P46(Expat)

You must use this instead of a standard form P46 for the following categories of employee seconded to work in the UK:

  • individuals working wholly or partly in the UK for a UK-resident employer on assignment while remaining employed by an overseas employer
  • individuals assigned to work wholly or partly in the UK at a recognised branch of their overseas employer's business
  • individuals included in an employer's dedicated expatriate PAYE scheme
  • individuals included in an employer's expatriate modified PAYE scheme

Remember, if you have 50 or more employees you must file form P46(Expat) online.

You can find out more about how to use form P46(Expat) in the latest versions of HMRC's Employer Helpbook E13, 'Day-to-day payroll' and CWG2, 'Employer Further Guide to PAYE and NICs' Both of these are available for download - use the link below.

Forms and publications for employers

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More useful links

General guidance about employees starting and leaving

PAYE online filing - find out more

Use HMRC's PAYE Online demonstrator

Contact the HMRC Online Services Helpdesk

Check whether any service issues are currently affecting PAYE Online

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