To work in the UK you must apply for a National Insurance Number (also known as a NI Number). The process of obtaining a new or finding your UK National Insurance Number is pretty straightforward and will take between 3-6 weeks to get from the date you first applied.
Use the below links to jump to the specific application you need.
- Apply for a New NI Number if your new to the UK
- Lost or forgotten National Insurance Number
- National Insurance Key Information
Apply for a New National Insurance Number
Part the application process involves attending an appointment at your local Job Centre Plus. This appointment is also known as an “identity interview”. The Appointment is mandatory and there is no way to get a National Insurance Number without attending one. The appointment is to check your documents such as ID and proof of UK address. This is to ensure all the information the HMRC have stored on you is correct. There is no way to fast track your application and it is completely free to apply. You must be currently living in the UK in order to apply, as you will need to provide proof of UK residency.
If you’re a UK citizen you won’t need to apply for a new national insurance, as you would have automatically been issued one.
How to apply for a New National Insurance Number
The first step is to call the National Insurance Number helpline on 0800 141 2075 and register your details. The phone call will last between 10-15 minutes once connected with an agent. The best time to call is in the early morning when the phone line is less busy. Be prepared to be waiting on the phone line for 15-30 minutes before being connected.
At the end of the phone call you will be given a reference number and be asked to book in your appointment. Its important to keep your reference number safe as you will need it throughout the application process. Your appointment will be automatically allocated to your closest Job Centre Plus. They will ask you for a suitable time and date. Appointments are generally only available 2-3 weeks in advance, so you may need to call back if there isn’t a suitable appointment available. In the event there aren’t any appointments available (Happens very rarely) you can request to be booked into a different Job Centre Plus. You can also request this if you would like one closer to your place of work.
The process is different if you solely need a National Insurance Number in order to Vote or register with the doctors. If this is the case you will need to contact your local council office, they will be able to assist you.
What will happen at your National Insurance Appointment?
You will be requested to arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment time. The appointment itself will only take between 10 and 20 minutes. The appointment isn’t designed to catch you out, it won’t be a test. Your appointment is used to check your documents and to find out why you need a National Insurance Number. They will check there are no spelling mistakes on the information they hold on you and ensure you have the right to work in the UK.
If you miss your appointment or need to rearrange it you will need to call back the helpline and give them your reference number. Do not delay in getting your National Insurance Number as your employer may charge you emergency tax while you wait for your number. Emergency tax is a higher rate of tax.
After your appointment your National Insurance Number will arrive in the post within 4-6 weeks. You will be given a telephone number at your appointment to call if number does not arrive within 6 weeks.
What documents will I need to take to my National insurance number appointment?
The documents you will need to provide will depend on your situation. You will be told all the documents you will need to bring during your phone call with the HMRC. It’s important to take note as you will be declined a National Insurance Number if you do not bring all the requested documents. If you are in the UK on a VISA or BRP card then you will need to bring all the documents you have relating to your VISA and BRP card. If your VISA has been extended then you will need to bring all the documents you have obtained from the home office.
At a minimum you will need to provide a valid photo ID such as Passport or ID card and Proof of a UK address. Example of a proof of address will be a bank statement, utility bill or rental contact.
There is an alternative if you can’t provide proof of address because you are living with a friend or have just arrived. If this is the case you will need to get a letter from the person you are living with which explains your living arrangements. Try and include as much information as you can such as how long you plan to stay there and if you pay towards bills. The letter will need to be signed and dated by the homeowner. You will need to bring this letter along with the writer’s proof of address, to your appointment.
Why was I declined a National Insurance Number?
The main reason to apply for a National Insurance Number is for work. This is either to be self-employed or employed during your time in the UK. Your application will be declined if they decide your intentions on getting a National Insurance Number aren’t for work purposes. They also will decline your application if you do not have the correct documentation. Its important to make sure your VISA or BRP is work permitted before applying.
Frequently asked questions when applying for a National Insurance Number
Q: Do I need a National Insurance Number before I start my job?
A: No, you won’t need a National Insurance Number before you start your job or before you begin to look for work. The downside of not having a National Insurance Number already in place is the higher rate of tax you will need to pay. This higher rate of tax is called “Emergency Tax” in which your employed will put you on while waiting for you number. You may need to supply proof you are able to work in the UK to your employer.
Q: Can I fast track my National Insurance Number application?
A: No, there is absolutely no way to speed up the process of getting a National Insurance Number.
Q: Do I have to attend a National Insurance Number Identity appointment?
A: Yes, there is no way to bypass this part of the application process.
Q: I arrived in the UK before the UK left the EU, can I still apply for a National Insurance Number?
A: Yes, if you arrived in the UK before the cut off date you will benefit from all the rights before the UK left. One such benefit was EU citizens being able to freely work in the UK. You will need to make sure you also apply for settled status within 5 years of arriving in the UK.
Q: My National Insurance Number never arrived after my appointment, what do I do?
A: At the end of your identity appointment you will be given a number to call if this happens. Make sure you get this number before you leave your appointment.
Q: Can I apply for a National Insurance Number without being in the UK?
A: No, you will need to provide a UK proof of address at your appointment. You will not be able to get a National Insurance Number without providing UK proof of address.
Q: How can I get a National Insurance Number if I don’t live in the UK but I am employed by a UK company?
A: You will need to get a letter from the company you work for explaining your situation and why you need a National Insurance Number. Explain your situation when phoning the NI number application line; they will be able to help.
Q: Do I have to provide original documents at my NI appointment?
A: You will need to bring all original documents to your National Insurance Number appointment.
Q: Do all job centers in the UK hold National Insurance Appointments?
A: No, not all job centers are available for National Insurance appointments. There is only a couple in each district.
Q: Can I get back the extra tax I paid while waiting for my National Insurance Number?
A: You will get back any extra tax you paid while waiting for your number. It will be returned to you in the form of a tax rebate. You will either need to contact the HMRC or it will be automatically retuned to you via PAYE.
Q: Do I need to apply for a National Insurance Number again if I leave the UK?
A: Your National Insurance Number is yours for life. It will not become invalid if you leave the UK for any length of time. If you lose or forget your number you will need to contact the HMRC to recover it.
Q: Can my employer refuse to pay me while I wait for my National Insurance Number?
A: No, you are legally entitled to your wages. You will need to explain to your employed you are in the process of getting a National Insurance Number. You might to provide them with your reference number the HMRC gave you. The only downside is the extra emergency tax you will have to pay while you wait. Your employer will have to charge you emergency tax.
Q: Does a having a National Insurance Number entitle me to work in the UK?
A: No, you will need to have the right to work in the UK. This is in the form of a work permitted VISA or you are from the EU.
Q: Will I be issued a National Insurance Card?
A: No, National Insurance Numbers cards are no longer issued. They where removed in 2011 to save the government money. They where replaced with an official HMRC letter.
Q: I have changed address during the application process of applying for a National Insurance Number, what do I do?
A: You will need to contact the National Insurance Number helpline and inform them about a change of your address. Its important to let them know as your Number will be sent to the address you originally applied with.
Q: Do I need a National Insurance Number in order to work in the UK?
A: Yes, National Insurance is a mandatory tax. You will have to pay National Insurance on your income above the threshold. It is to pay for benefits such as health care and state pension.
Lost or forgotten National Insurance Numbers
If your a UK citizen since birth you would have automatically been issued a National Insurance Number. This being the case you are unable to apply for a brand new one. Your number will stay the same for life, even if you leave the UK for a lengthy period of time. Your number should be sent to your home address around your 16th birthday.
Where you can find your National Insurance Number
Your NI Number will be displayed on all of your pay slips, P45 and P60 forms. If you claim any sort of benefit then your number will be displayed on any correspondence from the HMRC. If your self employed you can sign into your government gateway account to view and print out your number on an official letter.
How to apply for a lost National Insurance Number
If you have forgot your national insurance number you will need to contact the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3500 and explain you have lost your number. The chances are they will be able to send it straight out to you within a week. If they can’t then they will explain you will need to fill in form CA5403. The form can be located here.
Why you might not have received a National Insurance Number
Your number might not have arrived if you changed address during your childhood and your parents didn’t let the HMRC know. Your number could have been sent to an old address. Another reason would be if you left the UK during your childhood, the HMRC might still think your living outside the UK and didn’t automatically send it out.
If any of the above apply you will need to contact the HMRC helpline on – 0300 200 3500
In the case the HMRC has missed you out for whatever reason, you will need to go through the process of applying for a new national insurance number. You must make sure you 100% have not been automatically issued one before going down the new application process. You will waste a lot of your time of time if you don’t.
National Insurance Key Information
Your NI number is used to record all your tax information. It is also used as a reference number when dealing the HMRC. They will be able to bring up all your information they hold on you by using your number.
Why you need a NI Number
You need a National Insurance Number in order to pay the correct amount of UK tax. It is UK law to have one and you will need to pay NI contributions on your income. There is no way to work in the UK without one. The benefits of having one will ensure you pay don’t over pay the tax on your income. You will also benefit from state pension and health benefits.
National Insurance Number format
A National Insurance Number format looks like AB123456X. It will always start with 2 letters, followed by 6 numbers and finished off with 1 letter. The end letter will be between A and D.
National insurance tax rates
Please see below the 2018 – 2019 tax rates and how much NI you will be expected to pay. If your employed then Class 1 NI is what you will have to pay.
If your self employed you will pay slightly different rates at Class 2 and Class 4. Please see the below table.