National Insurance

How to Apply For a National Insurance Number

You pay National Insurance Contributions (NIC) if you are an employee or self-employed and you are aged 16 and over as long as your earnings are more than a certain level (see Tax Rates and Allowances).

You pay NIC to build up your entitlement to certain state benefits, including State Pension. The contributions you pay depend on how much you earn and whether you are employed or self-employed. You stop paying NIC when you reach State Pension age.

If, for whatever reason, you do not have a National Insurance (NI) number, and you intend to work in the UK you need to apply for one.

What is a NI number?

Your NI number is your own personal account number. The number makes sure that the NIC and tax you pay are properly recorded. Your entitlement to many state benefits depends on your NIC record. It also acts as a reference number when dealing with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

NI numbers are made up of letters and numbers. For example: QQ 12 34 56 A. Every NI number is different and is unique to you. Your NI number never changes even if you go abroad, marry, register as a civil partner, change your name etc.

It is important to keep your NI number safe. Do not disclose it to anyone who does not need it and this will help to prevent identity fraud.

When to apply for a NI number

You must apply for a NI number if:

  • You need claim benefits and/or tax credits
  • You have the right to work in the UK
  • You are entitled to and have applied for a student loan

You also have to provide a NI number if you open an Individual Savings Account (ISA).

How to apply for a NI number

If you have the right to work in the UK and you are looking for or starting work or setting up as self-employed you need to contact the Jobcentre Plus on 0845 600 0643 to apply for a NI number. Lines are open 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday.

If you are an EU national, Jobcentre Plus will arrange an Evidence of Identity (EOI) interview for you or send you a postal application. If relevant they will confirm the date, time and location of your interview and what information and documentation you need to support your application.

If you are a non-EU national you can avoid the need for an EOI. You need to advise the Jobcentre Plus that you are a non-EU national when you call them tell them. They will then ask you some questions to confirm your details, and will then post you out a form for you to complete. On receipt complete the form and return it to the Jobcentre Plus team, together with a copy of your passport. Your new NI number will be issued in 2 – 3 weeks.

What to Expect at a ‘Evidence of Identity’ interview

The interview will usually be on a one-to-one basis. You are able to have an interpreter present if necessary. You will be will be asked questions about why you need an National Insurance number, your background and circumstances.

You will have to prove your identity and you should take as many original (not photocopies) documents to the interview as possible. The documentation will include:

  • valid passport (UK or foreign)
  • national identity card (UK or foreign)
  • residence permit or residence card (including biometric immigration residency documents)
  • full birth certificate
  • adoption certificate
  • full marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • driving licence (UK or foreign)

The above list is not exhaustive and you should take as many identity documents as you can.
If you do not have any of these (or any other) identity documents, then you can still apply for a NI number. The information you supply will be checked and may be sufficient to prove your identity.

During the interview a NI number application form will be completed which you will be asked to sign.

After the interview if any additional information is required you need to provide this by the agreed date. Jobcentre Plus will then write and let you know whether your application has been successful or not. Where successful they will tell you what your NI number is. Where appropriate you should tell your employer your NI number as soon as you know it.

If you have the right to work in the UK and you are looking for or starting work or setting up as self-employed you need to contact the Jobcentre Plus on 0845 600 0643 to apply for a NI number. Lines are open 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday.

For detailed information on National Insurance see HM Revenue and Customs.