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National Insurance

You pay National Insurance contributions to build up your entitlement to certain State Benefits, including the State Pension. The type and level of NI contributions you pay depends on how much you earn and whether you are employed or self employed. You stop paying NI contributions when you reach State Pension age.

Who pays National Insurance?
You pay NI contributions if you are an employee or self-employed and you are aged 16 and over, providing your earnings are more than a certain level. You stop paying NI contributions at State Retirement age.

Your National Insurance number
Your National Insurance number (NI number) is your own personal account number. The number ensures that the National Insurance contributions and the tax you pay are properly recorded on your account. It also acts as a reference number for the whole social security system.

Who uses your NI number?
The only people you should ever give your NI number to are:

  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
  • your employer
  • Jobcentre Plus, if you claim Jobseeker's Allowance
  • your local council, if you claim Housing Benefit
  • Electoral Registration Officers (to check your identity when you register to vote)
  • the Student Loan Company, if you apply for a student loan
  • your Individual Savings Account (ISA) provider, if you open an ISA
  • your pension provider, if you have a personal or stakeholder pension

Entitlement to many State benefits depends on your National Insurance contribution record so it is very important not to give your number to anyone else.

If you do not already have a NI number, you must apply for one:

  • as soon as you start work
  • as soon as you or your partner claims benefit

To be able to apply you must be:

  • over 16 years of age
  • resident in Great Britain (England, Wales or Scotland)

To apply for a NI number you will need to telephone the National Insurance number application line on 0345 600 0643.

Your entitlement to certain State Benefits and/or the amount you can get may depend on your (or in some cases your spouse or civil partner's) NI contributions.