NI numbers are used by HMRC to record National Insurance contributions, but they also appear on payslips, P60s, tax returns and official letters about tax, pensions or benefits. They are in the format of two prefix letters, six digits and one suffix letter.
Until 1975, NI cards had suffixes A, B, C or D at the end to indicate their period of validity. They were exchanged every twelve months.
What to do if you don’t have your NI number
Having a National Insurance number is important – it ensures that the tax and National Insurance contributions you pay are linked to your identity. However, it can take time to receive an NI number if you haven’t already got one.
There are a few ways that you can find out your NI number, including checking online via your Personal Tax Account or the HMRC App. You can also look on payslips, P60s or any letters from HM Revenue and Customs about tax, pensions and benefits.
If you can’t find out your NI number, contact the DWP or your local Jobcentre Plus to ask for it. You’ll need to provide some information about yourself, such as your address. This is because the address you use for your NI application will be the default mailing address for all future correspondence from HM Revenue and Customs, including tax returns.
If you want to avoid waiting for a NI number, it’s worth applying using an NI number service that does the whole process for you. It’ll register you with the DWP, send you an application form and help you fill it in correctly. But be aware that companies offering to do a fast-track NI appointment are most likely scams.
What to do if you think you’ve paid more National Insurance than your record shows
The State Pension you get depends on your National Insurance record which consists of the contributions paid or credits credited to you for each tax year. You can choose to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions to fill gaps in your record but this may not increase your State Pension.
If you’re employed you pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions through a PAYE system and they’re automatically deducted from your wages. You also pay Class 2 contributions if you’re self-employed and Class 4 contributions based on your level of taxable profits.
HMRC uses a system called the National Insurance Contributions Office to record and process NICs payments and credits. You can find your NI number on your payslip, P60, tax returns and official letters about taxes or benefits.
The National Insurance Contributions Office has a helpline that you can call to ask for information about your NI record. You can also write to them if you have any queries about your NI record. If they need to contact you about anything confidential they’ll reply by phone or post. You can use this helpline to ask for a copy of your NI history statement. This contains details of all the NI contributions you’ve paid or credits received since 5 April 1948. It’s important to keep a copy of this record so that you can check if any payments have been made or received incorrectly.
What to do if you’re a non-UK resident
Many people live abroad for work, study or to be with family. Whether or not you’re classed as a non-resident will affect how much tax you pay.
Residents normally pay tax on all their income, whether it’s earned in the UK or abroad. However, there are special rules for those whose permanent home (domicile) is abroad.
Most people are treated as resident in the UK if they spend more than 183 days in the UK in any given tax year. But there are three exceptions to that rule: those in extraordinary circumstances beyond their control which prevented them from leaving, those in transit and (for 2019/20 and 2020/21 only) those who were working on coronavirus-related activities.
There are also different rules for those who work abroad and earn taxable UK income. You may get split-year treatment if you meet certain conditions, and you must declare any taxable UK income in your Self Assessment return.
If you’re a non-resident, it might be worth opening a UK bank account before your move to the country. It can make it easier to manage your money. When you open an account, banks will ask for proof of identity documents – such as a passport or driving licence – and your address details. This helps to prevent money laundering and terrorist funding.
What to do if you can’t find your NI number
Every UK citizen is sent their NI number on their 16th birthday – and it stays with you throughout your working life. It’s a unique combination of letters and numbers, and it helps HMRC and DWP keep track of your National Insurance contributions correctly. It’s a key piece of personal information and without it, you may not be able to work or claim benefits.
You’ll find your NI number on any official documents about tax, pensions or benefits you’ve received. It’s also usually printed on payslips, although you might need to scour through old ones to find it. If you’re not sure where to look, check with family members who might have old paperwork from when you were a child. They’re more likely to be meticulous record-keepers and could save you a lot of time.
If you’re still struggling to find your NI number, the quickest option is to contact HMRC’s helpline. However, it’s worth noting that they won’t give your NI number over the phone, due to security reasons. Instead, they’ll send a letter to your home address – so it might take up to 15 days for this method to work. Another option is to use a form to request your NI number, which you can do through the HMRC website. It’s called Form CA5403 and is quite straightforward to complete. ביטוח לאומי טלפון