The best time for HMRC self assessment webchat in Jan 2021?

Aaron Asaro
25 Jan 2021

11 minute read

Are you struggling to get connected to an self assessment advisor on HMRC webchat?

If so, you're not alone. Picking the right time of day to use HMRC webchat could reduce your wait time by 80%, or more!

The best time of day to reach self assessment advisors on HMRC webchat is 8 - 9 am. If you've missed that gap, keep reading to find the next best time.

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Table of contents #

  1. Why use HMRC self assessment webchat?
  2. How we found the best time of day for self assessment webchat
  3. What is the best time of day for self assessment webchat?
  4. Why is HMRC webchat so busy?
  5. Do you want easier access to HMRC webchat advisors for self assessment?

Why use HMRC self assessment webchat? #

HMRC webchat advisors are knowledgeable, give well researched answers, and the conversation is downloadable afterwards. The problem is that reaching those advisors isn't always easy, because:

1. Always watching
To get on webchat you need to watch the webpage for a link to appear. It's never obvious if something is going on in the background, or if the page has broken. You also can't multitask while waiting, because you might miss the link. Boring!

2. Trying again, and again, and again...
If you're lucky enough to spot a "speak to an advisor" link, you aren't guaranteed an advisor when you click it. Instead you fill out a form, and then can be told to try again. Frustrating!

The Webchat Autopilot plugin solves these issues by watching for the link, and retrying for you 🙌. One thing the plugin can't do is tell you how long it'll be before the link appears. So, we worked to figure it out so you don't have to.

How we found the best time of day for self assessment webchat #

If you're reading this you've probably already spent time waiting for an HMRC webchat advisor. Moved by that frustration we decided to find the best time to speak to an advisor. This is how we did it:

  1. We loaded the HMRC webchat page.
  2. When the "speak to an advisor" link appeared we noted the time, and refreshed the page.
  3. We repeated this measurement until HMRC webchat closed.

What is the best time of day for self assessment webchat? #

Below we plotted the longest[1] time you'll wait to speak to an advisor against the time of day. The results show that there's up to a massive 80% difference in wait times depending on when you try to connect!

How long will I wait to speak to someone on HMRC webchat for self assessment?

In the plot below we've ranked the times of day by how long you might expect to wait to chat to an advisor. It's a bit easier to read if you're trying to plan your day around when to contact them.

What is the best time to use HMRC webchat for self assessment?

The data show that the best time for you to contact HMRC is early morning (8am - 9am). If you swing by at lunch time (12pm - 1pm) you'll see something like an 11 minute wait. Whatever you do you'll want to avoid the 11am - 12pm rush though.

Notes on the data #

  • We ran this test on Friday, 22 January 2021
  • The wait times shown in the graph are the longest measured for the period. Sometimes, after a page refresh, a link appeared pretty quickly. We suspect this was because people were still filling in the forms required to connect to a self assessment advisor.

Why is HMRC webchat so busy? #

Self assessment deadlines #

This is the first dataset we've put together, so it's not clear if the wait times are normal. The webchat response times are probably slower because the self assessment deadline is a week away. Hopefully wait times in February will be better. We expect to see the trend to remain consistent though as people are creatures of habit.

Covid-19 #

It's quite likely that the Covid-effect has made wait times longer in two ways:

  1. We're in the midst of a second wave of the virus in the UK. That could affect how many HMRC webchat advisors are at work.
  2. The self employed are facing a tough time right now due to Covid-19. So the self assessment "lines" are probably busier than a usual January.

Do you want easier access to HMRC webchat advisors for self assessment? #

If you've done the work of combing through this post you're someone that wants to optimise their workday. One way to do that is to use HMRC webchat between 8am and 9am. A better way is to install our free browser plugin for HMRC self assessment webchat. It can do all sorts of fancy things, like:

  • Automatically click the link when it appears.
  • Automatically fill in the form for you instantly.
  • Automatically notify you when you're in the queue.

We believe that access to tailored HMRC information should be fast and simple, for everyone. With Webchat Autopilot for HMRC webchat, it is.


  1. We were interested in the worst case scenario. ↩︎