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Thursday, 3 September 2009

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:

QQ 12 34 56 A.

(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.

Keep this number safe as it can be used by criminals to steal your identity

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

If you need an NI number to claim benefits this will be done as part of the claim process when you or your partner claim benefit.

If you want to apply for an NI number to start work or make voluntary contributions - Telephone 0845 600 0643 (8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday). Jobcentre Plus will check to make sure:

  • that you need a NI number
  • you don’t already have a NI number

Where you don’t have a number but do need one Jobcentre Plus will arrange an Evidence of Identity (EOI) interview for you. Jobcentre Plus will confirm the date, time and location of the interview and will tell you what information/documentation to bring with you.

'Evidence of identity' interview

Jobcentre Plus will use this interview to check that you are who you say you are, where applicable, your eligibility to work in the United Kingdom and to protect your national insurance and security accounts.

What to expect

The interview will usually be one-to-one (unless, for example, you need an interpreter). The interviewer will ask you questions about who you are, why you want an NI number, your background and circumstances. The interviewer will also ask to see the information/documentation you were asked to bring with you to the interview. During the interview an application for an NI number form will be completed and you will be asked to sign this 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. The information you are able to provide might be sufficient to prove your identity.

What happens after the interview

If the application process was completed during the interview Jobcentre Plus will write to you to let you know if your application has been successful or not.

If Jobcentre Plus made arrangements, at the interview, for you to provide them with additional information you will need to do this by the agreed date. This will allow Jobcentre Plus to complete the application process, they will then write to you.

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 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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