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Your National Insurance Number

What is my National Insurance Number and what is it for?

Only one number is allocated to you and you keep that same number all your life. It is unique to you and ensures we correctly credit and record National Insurance contributions (NICs) you are entitled to or have paid to your National Insurance account. You will need these NICs and credits when you come to claim benefit, whether it is for a short while, like Incapacity Benefit or long term, such as basic State Pension.

  • Your National Insurance Number is personal to you.
  • It is your account number allocated to you for you to use in all your dealings with Inland Revenue (IR), the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

It is not proof of your identity.

It looks something like this: AB123456C

This National Insurance number is only an example and should not be used as your own number.

Who else uses my National Insurance Number?

Your National Insurance number will also be used by:

  • Employers, for the deduction of tax and NICs
  • Jobcentre Plus, (Jobs and Benefits in Northern Ireland) to administer Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Local Authorities, (The Housing Benefit Executive or the Rates Collection Agency in Northern Ireland), to administer Housing Benefit.
  • HM Customs and Excise to administer VAT Registration applications
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

You must not let anyone else use your National Insurance number.

What do I do with my National Insurance Number?

You should quote it on letters or forms you send to IR, DWP or the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland.

Keep your number safe and do not disclose it to anyone who does not need it. Remember, its purpose is only to record NICs and credits you have paid or are entitled to, which will help decide how much benefit you will receive.

If you are employed

You should tell your employer your number as soon as you know it
Your employer will use it to make sure the NICs you pay are recorded on your NIC account. These earn you entitlement to benefit. If your employer does not have the correct National Insurance number then there could be a delay in establishing how much benefit you should get when you claim.

If you are self-employed

You will need your National Insurance number when you apply to pay self-employed NICs.

When do I apply for a National Insurance Number?

No one has a right to a National Insurance number but there are circumstances when you are legally obliged to apply for one and to register for National Insurance purposes.

Conditions for applying for a National Insurance number

  • If you do not already have a National Insurance number you must apply for one as soon as you start work or you (or in some cases, your partner) claims benefit.
  • You must be 16 or over and resident in the UK.

If you satisfy all the above conditions except for being resident in the UK, and you still want to apply for a National Insurance number, you must be liable to pay NICs or want to pay voluntary NICs and would benefit from doing so. You will need to contact the Centre for Non-Residents.

Providing you satisfy these conditions, you should contact your nearest DWP office or Social Security office in Northern Ireland and ask for an appointment to be interviewed for a National Insurance number.

At the interview you will need to be able to prove your identity.

You can find out information about the types of documents you should provide to help establish your identity in leaflet GL25 available from any DWP office or Social Security office in Northern Ireland.

What if I have already been given a National Insurance number but I cannot remember what it is?

If you think you already have a National Insurance number but cannot remember it, see if you can find it on any official papers you may have at home. Look on any of the following:

An end of year statement of tax and NICs paid (P60)

Payslip, recent or old

Official correspondence

Annual tax return

Sub contractor’s tax certificate (CIS6)

Employer’s wage records.

Your National Insurance number will not change. Even if for example, you go abroad, marry or change your name, your National Insurance number will stay the same.

If you still cannot find your National Insurance number, ask at your nearest DWP office, Social Security office in Northern Ireland or Inland Revenue office and they will tell you what to do.

Will I get a National Insurance number automatically?

The only people who are automatically registered are those under 16 years old, who live in the UK and for whom Child Benefit is in payment. They are automatically registered and a National Insurance number card sent to them just before their 16th birthday.

If these young people do not receive a card they will have to apply for a National Insurance number in the same way as everyone else. See earlier question “When do I apply for a National Insurance number”. This means they must be working or claiming benefit and satisfy the conditions shown above.

What is the National Insurance number card?

The National Insurance number card is a plastic card which is issued automatically when you first apply for a National Insurance number.

It is meant to be a reminder of your number and nothing else. It does not provide proof of your identity and should not be used as such.

If you live abroad a card will not be sent to you. If you live in the UK but have no permanent address you will be able to collect your card from your nearest DWP office, or Social Security office in Northern Ireland about 8 weeks after your application is made.

If you live in Wales, you may ask for your card to be printed in both English and Welsh. Tell the office where you apply for your National Insurance number that you would like a bilingual card.

Take good care of your card. You will only be sent one replacement if you lose it.

What do I do if I have lost my National Insurance number card?

Report it to your nearest DWP office, Social Security office in Northern Ireland or Inland Revenue office. If you want a replacement card you will need to complete an application form. Remember, you are only allowed one replacement.

Do you need to know if my circumstances change?

Yes. Please write to your nearest DWP office, Social Security office in Northern Ireland or Inland Revenue office quoting your National Insurance number. Tell us what change has occurred and when it happened. For example:

If you are a woman you should tell us if you get married or become divorced or widowed.

If you move house, you need to tell us when you move and where you moved to. If you do not tell us when you move, we will not be able to keep your records up to date. This means that we will be unable to contact you if we need to; for example, if the NICs you paid in a tax year are not enough for that year to count for benefit purposes. We would normally write to let you know and to tell you how much you could pay in voluntary NICs to make that year count.

Also, when you are nearing State Pension age, we invite you to claim any basic State Pension you are entitled to. We cannot do this if we do not have your current address.