When you start a new job, your employer will ask you for a vital PAYE document your previous employer should have issued. But how do you get a P45 if it’s not been provided to you? Can you get a P45 online?
Your employer is legally obligated to provide you with a P45 within a reasonable time of you leaving your job. Ideally, this should be issued when your final pay is processed.
Our guide will help you understand how to get a P45 from a previous employer, and what you need to know if you can’t.
What is a P45?
A P45 is an official HMRC form that helps to determine your tax code.
Employers fill out this form and then give it to employees when they leave that place of employment. There is nothing the employee has to do to start this process, it should be automatically done by their employer.
A p45 contains important information about yourself and your income details for the previous tax year.
It also states which tax code you are on which is information your next boss needs to know. Being on the incorrect tax code when you start a new job can mean you end up paying emergency tax.
When Do You Get a P45?
It is a legal requirement for employers to hand over P45s when employees leave their employment. The law says this must be done “without unreasonable delay”.
The P45 should ideally be attached to your final payslip. However, sometimes employers will send this to you after you have left.
P45s are issued when you leave a job for any reason. This includes; retirement, quitting, being sacked and being made redundant. Should you not receive yours within a reasonable timeframe, you should take further action.
See our guide on what happens if an employer won’t give a P45 for advice on what to do next.
How to Get a P45 if Yours is Lost
You all of a sudden need that P45 but you’ve lost it. You definitely put it in a safe place, but now you need to get a new copy of the information. Does this sound familiar?
It can be stressful when you are unable to locate this important PAYE document. You may be starting a new job shortly which is nerve inducing enough on its own, without added problems. The last thing you want is to be paying too much or too little tax.
It’s relatively straightforward to get the information from a P45, but getting a copy of a lost P45 can be a bit more tricky. There’s a few things you can try, and some you can’t.
Can You Get a P45 Online from HMRC?
You cannot log in to HMRC online and download a P45. The document is something only your employer can produce.
If they can’t help with this, then it is not possible to get a replacement from anyone except your former employer.
The information an employer used to generate a P45 and your final payslip will be recorded in your Government Gateway account. However, it is not possible to download a copy of the document.
Ask Your Previous Employer
Your first port of call should be to ask your previous employer. If they never issued you with a P45 in the first place then they have not met their legal obligations with HMRC.
You should approach them and request your form. Adding that you are legally entitled to receive this form may be enough to get your old job to issue your P45.
If your employer produced a hard copy of the P45 and you lost yours, then employers are not obligated to issue a new one.
However, if you received an electronic copy by email then it might be worth searching your email history. Failing this you could ask your employer to resend the original document.
If Your Employer Refuses to Give You a P45
It’s incredibly frustrating if you are about to begin a new job and you still have no P45 from an employer to give to your new job.
This can be stressful but does happen quite a lot. You may have left on bad terms and the employer holds a grudge or they have it at the bottom of their to do list. Either way, being stuck in limbo like this is very frustrating.
If you are struggling to get the document issued from your ex-employer you can approach them and ask for it to be sent out to you. You could also approach the HR department as an alternative. This is a good idea if you aren’t on the best terms with your manager.
You may also wish to remind them of their legal obligation to provide you with a P45. The PAYE Regulations (2003) requires an employer to “Complete form P45… on the day on which the employment ceases or, if that is not practicable, without unreasonable delay.” 
The issue with the wording of this regulation is that how long an “unreasonable delay” is has not been specified.
However, you may find that mentioning their reporting obligations, and politely indicating you may need will report non compliance to HMRC will motivate them to issue your P45.
HMRC Starter Checklist – P46
If you can’t get a copy of your P45, you can fill in an HMRC starter checklist instead.
This was previously called a P46 and can be accessed on the HMRC website. This allows you to give the correct information to your next place of employment. You will then, hopefully, be put on the correct tax code.
You should use a P46 if:–
- You are beginning your first paid job.
- You are switching from self employed to employed.
- You have been sent to work in the UK from overseas.
- You have a student or postgraduate loan.
- The details on your P45 are incorrect.
- You have never received your P45.
- You have lost your P45.
- You have been unemployed.
- There has been a gap between jobs.
How to Stop Getting Emergency Taxed Without a P45
The best chance you have of not getting put on an emergency tax code is to fill out the starter checklist.
This can be filled out by you and then given to your new employer to process. This doesn’t guarantee you will be placed on the correct tax code, but it is your best bet without a P45.
Be sure you fill the form out completely and with the correct information. Also, ensure you get it to your employer and that it gets processed.
You will need the following information to hand before filling it in:-
- Your name, address, and postcode.
- Payment type for a student loan (if applicable).
- Passport number in some cases.
- National Insurance number, if known.
- Details of any income received from 6th April for that tax year.
- Details of any benefits you receive.
If you’ve already left employment, and your final wage has been paid, your Government Gateway account should have the information you need to accurately report your income. This will allow your new employer to put you on the correct tax code, and avoid emergency tax.
Employers must report employees details, gross pay, and tax deduction to HMRC on or before the day you are paid. Failure to do so results in an automatic fine, so its unlikely most employers will not have done this.
Ideally, you need your P45 to begin a new job as this ensures you are placed on the correct tax code. Otherwise, you may end up overpaying or underpaying taxes. There are things you can do without a P45 though, such as the starter checklist.
You cannot access your P45 online as it is a sensitive document that can only be issued once. Your employer should give you this when you leave their place of employment.