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What You Need to Do When You Arrive: Your NI Number

What is a National Insurance (NI) number - UK?

Your UK National Insurance number is a unique personal number allocated to you that is used to identify you to HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions.

It ensures the Government correctly records any contributions you are entitled to. Your National Insurance contributions go towards the UK social security and the state pension system.

Everyone who works in any capacity in the UK will need to register for an national insurance number.

When do I need to use my NI Number?

If you intend to work in the UK, you need to apply as possible. You will need to quote your NI number to your employer's accounts department for taxation purposes and contributions will be taken each time you are paid.

If you don't have a NI number, you will be required to contribute more than normal in NI payments so it's wise to get yours as soon after arriving in the UK as possible. Further to this you will not be able to claim any of your overpaid taxes back or opt to get a NI rebate. It is therefore vital to obtain this number when you start working.

The Revenue and Customs Department (the HMRC) no longer accept 'temporary' National Insurance numbers. After applying you will receive your National Insurance Number and card in the post a while later and you should ensure your employer is aware of this number.

If you have employment:

It is easier to apply for a NI Number once you have secured employment. In order to apply for the number you will need documentation to do with employment (such as a contract or letter from your employer).

If you are not yet employed:

If you have not yet secured employment you can still apply however certain documents will be required (such as job rejection letters, letters from your recruitment agent etc).

Go to the DWP website for more specific information on National Insurance »

How do I get my National Insurance (NI) Number?

There are two ways to apply:

DIY

When you arrive in the UK, to apply yourself you will need to make an NI number appointment or (called Evidence of Identity (EOI) Interview) at your local Job Centre Plus.

Contact: Job Centre Plus
0845 600 0643
Monday to Friday 8am–6pm
Bring to appointment:
  • Proof of your identity
  • An account of all your past years of work and travel
  • How and when you arrived in the UK

Often this phone line is very busy so you should call when you have time to sit on hold for a while! It can be a lengthy process so be prepared.

They will book you an appointment at your nearest Jobcentre office (so it might be a good idea to have a London A to Z handy when you call so you can get your geographical bearings). After you get an appointment the process often takes a few months, so it is highly advisable to do it as sson as possible or use a service to assist you.

NI Number Services Online

Many people who are working and don't yet have a National Insurance number will be taxed at a much higher emergency rate. To avoid this, it makes sense to get your number as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the process sometimes takes months and can be time-consuming and frustrating to do yourself.

We have also found that people who do it themselves often run into problems:

Example 1: Change of address

Once you have gone through the application process and interview (if required) there are at least several weeks of waiting for your NI number to arrive in the post. In this time, many people who have just arrived in the UK change their address often because of a new job or change in living arrangements. Unfortunately this often leads to lost numbers, more calls, wating and then the retrival process. All this can be easily avoided. 

Example 2:  Proving your identy

One of the most important parts of getting an NI number is proving your identity. For some people this presents a big challenge because they do not have sufficient enough proof like bills in your name with a UK address or a UK bank account. Having someone to guide you through the application and interview process removes all these concerns. 

There is a service we recommend:

In the UK or Overseas

1st Contact offers an Easy National Insurance service for £30 (or £17.50 if bought in conjunction with a bank account as part of the Kickstart pack). To help guide you through the process a consultant at 1st Contact does all the hard work for you such as registering your details with the DWP, arrange for the signature application form to be posted out to you or alternatively book your (EOI) evidence of identity interview (if required) for you. Apart from avoiding any issues in the first place they may be able even help you avoid the EOI meeting completely.

We found you can avwhere they are really helpful is when they check the application form is accurate before submitting and will also provide you with a letter of employment if you haven't started working yet.

Simply:

  1. Complete the online questionnaire
  2. Sign the postal application form OR attend the Evidence of Identity Interview that 1st Contact will arrange for you
  3. Receive your NI Number in 2-4 weeks (often sooner!)
  4. Ensure everything runs smoothly and if you change address they will follow up for you.

Click here if you would like more information on getting a national insurance number

Can I get a rebate on my National Insurance contributions when I leave the UK?

Yes. Most working travellers are in the UK for a good time and not necessarily a long time so many won't be around to claim their National Insurance contributions in the UK when they reach retirement age. The UK government will not refund your contributions when you go home.

However there is way to get something back from your contributions. By opting to 'contract out' your contributions you put them in an approved private pension that you can transfer back home. You will not be able to get the full amount back, but it can translate into a significant rebate.