How to apply for a National Insurance Number

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Just moved to the UK and want to start working, you will need to apply for a National Insurance Number  If you have the right to work in the UK, and there is no National Insurance Number printed in the back of your biometric residence permit, you will need to schedule an interview by calling Jobcentre Plus.
Do this as early as possible as it can take some time for your papers to be processed. You can start working without it, but you will be taxed at a highest rate. 

What is a National Insurance Number and why do you need one?

The National Insurance Number is your own unique code, made of alphanumeric characters. It ensures that the National Insurance Contributions and Taxes you pay, are recorded against your name.
Your National Insurance Number will remain the same throughout your lifetime or residency in the United Kingdom.
It is made up of two letters, six numbers and a final letter.
You will use this number in your correspondence with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the Department of Work and Pensions.

Who needs a National Insurance Number?

If you are above 16 and your income is above a certain threshold, you will need to pay National Insurance Contributions, and thus will need a National Insurance Number.

The threshold will be different if you are employed or self-employed:

  • Employed: For 2018/19 this threshold is £162 a week or £702 a month.
  • Self-employed: You pay Class 2 contributions of £2.95 a week on profits over £6,205. You pay Class 4 National Insurance contributions on annual profits exceeding £8,424. 

Can you start working without a National Insurance Number?

if you have the right to work in the UK, it is possible to start working without a National Insurance Number. You can let your employer know that you have applied for one and will provide it as soon as possible.
However, you will need to keep in mind that, in the meantime, you will be taxed at a higher rate.

How to apply for a National Insurance Number?

You can apply by calling the National Insurance number application line: 0800 141 2075 between 8am and 6pm, open Monday to Friday.

During the call, you will be asked some questions about your move and the reasons you are needing a National Insurance Number.
Then, depending on your country of citizenship, Jobcentre Plus might schedule an ‘Evidence of Identity’ interview for you, or send you a postal application.

European citizens or Non-European citizens with a visa issued in the UK

After your call, Jobcentre Plus will send you a letter to confirm the date and location of the interview and the list of documents you will need to bring.

This might include:

  • passport/identity card
  • residence permit
  • birth/adoption certificate
  • marriage/civil partnership certificate
  • driving licence
  • work contract
  • proof of address (rental agreement, letter or bill)

During the interview, you will be asked a few questions regarding your need of a National Insurance Number. If successful, you will have to fill in and sign in some additional forms and you will be told when to expect your NIN to come in by mail.

Non-European citizens with a visa issued outside of the UK

Usually and after the call, you will receive a postal application to complete and return within one month.

What happens once you applied?

If you have been asked to provide additional information, submit it by the agreed date.
Otherwise, it should take two to six weeks for your National Insurance Number to arrive. 

Once recieved, do not forget to give it to your employer.

What to do if you lose your number?

You have already used your number

If you have already used your number, you can find it in your payslips, P60 or tax returns.

You have never used your number

In this case, you can:

  • call the National Insurance helpline and answer a few questions. They won’t be able to give you your number by phone but will send it by mail, within 10 days of your call.
  • fill in the CA5403 and send it to the National Insurance Office.

Once you have your National Insurance Number, make sure you only share it with organisations and people that need to know it.

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