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Applying for a National Insurance number

If, for whatever reason, you don't have a National Insurance (NI) number, it is possible to apply for one. There are circumstances when you do need one, such as claiming benefit, for example.

What is a National Insurance number?

Every NI number is different. It's made up of letters and numbers like this:

AB 12 34 56 C.

(Please note that this National Insurance number is just an example and should not be used as your own number.)

Your NI number is your own personal number and you keep the same one all your life. Only you can use it.

Your NI number is used as a reference number for the whole benefits and tax credits system. It's also used for:

  • making tax and National Insurance deductions through Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  • recording your entitlement to the State Pension
  • claiming Jobseeker's Allowance
  • claiming Housing Benefit

Receiving a National Insurance number automatically

You'll be registered automatically and sent an NI number just before your 16th birthday if:

  • you live in Great Britain
  • your parents or guardians are getting Child Benefit for you

When to apply for a National Insurance number

If you need to claim benefit (or if your partner needs to claim benefit for you) you'll have to apply for an NI number if you don't already have one. You can apply if you're aged 16 or over and you live in Great Britain.

You can also apply for an NI number if:

  • you're starting work
  • you're setting up as self-employed
  • you're looking for work
  • you want to make voluntary NI contributions and would benefit from paying them

How to apply

To apply for a NI number you will need to telephone the Jobcentre Plus NI number allocation service helpline on 0845 600 0643.

They will make sure you need a number and arrange for you to undertake an evidence of identity interview.

'Evidence of identity' interview

The interview will usually be one-to-one (unless, for example, you need an interpreter). The interviewer will ask you questions about your background and circumstances.

The interviewer may also ask you to fill in an application form.

If you don't have any official documents

If you haven't got any official documents you still have to go to the interview. You might be able to prove your identity with the information you give at the interview.

If you've lost or can't remember your NI number

If you think you already have a number but can't remember it, you might be able to find it on official paperwork you've got at home, like:

  • your end of year statement of tax (P60)
  • a payslip
  • a copy of your annual tax return
  • other official correspondence

Your NI number never changes even if you go abroad, marry, register as a civil partner, change your name, etc.

If you still can't find your number, contact your local Jobcentre Plus, social security office or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) NI Contributions Office and they'll tell you what to do.

If you've lost your NI number card

If you've lost your NI number card you should tell your local Jobcentre Plus or social security office. If you want a replacement card you'll need to fill in an application form. Remember you're only allowed one replacement card.

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