There are a lot of things on your mind shortly after your flight lands in the UK and you start your new life. You need to get settled, start work and sort out the inevitable admin of moving to a new country.
Newcomers to the UK should make applying for their National Insurance (NI) number, also called NINO, a top priority.
Find out why below, as well as how you go about lodging your application.
What is an NI number?
An NI number allows you to pay National Insurance contributions, which gives you access to the State Pension and various other monetary allowances and benefits.
You’ll pay NI contributions whether you’re self-employed or an employee.
The UK government uses the NI number to track taxes and your NI contributions – it’s vital to get one soon after you start living in the UK.
Why do you need an NI number?
An NI number is essential for calculating and tracking everything to do with your National Insurance. It’s also commonly used with some tax references in the UK.
Without your NI number, many employers will refuse to hire you, and you will have to pay UK emergency tax rates – higher rates than regular tax.
You should apply for your NI number as soon as you can after landing in the UK. You can’t apply before you arrive as you have to be physically present in the UK to attend an interview.
How to apply for your NI number
There are a few steps in your NINO application. To apply, ensure you’re in the UK and you have the right to work or study in the country.
Step 1: Call the application line
The first step is to call the NI number application line to apply. They’re available from Monday to Friday from 08:00 until 18:00. The number is 0800 141 2075 or for textphones, 0800 141 2438.
Step 2: Receive your interview letter
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will send you a letter requesting that you attend an NI number interview at a Jobcentre Plus.
You’ll also be requested to bring along documents which may include:
- Your passport or ID
- Your residence permit
- A birth or adoption certificate
- A marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Your driving licence
The interview is to inform DWP of why you need an NI number and your circumstances. You’ll also be told the estimated time it will take to receive your NI number, depending on factors such as the amount of applications and average processing times.
Step 3: Get your NI number
DWP will send your NI number by post. If you’ve started work without one, tell your employer as soon as you receive the number, so you’re no longer subject to emergency tax rates.
If you change your address
Both your interview letter and NI number are sent to your address, so if at any time you update your address, phone the application hotline to inform them of the change.
An easier option to get an NI number
You can take the hassle out of getting your NI number by using an easy service to apply for NINO online. This cuts out the admin of applying – they’ll take care of scheduling your appointment and guide you through which documents you’ll need to take to your interview. You’ll be fully prepared at every step of the process.
Who doesn’t need an NI number?
People born in the UK will usually get an NI number automatically before the age of 16 if you live in the UK and your parent has filed a Child Benefit claim form.
There are also some situations in which you would have received an NI number printed on the back of your biometric residence permit (BRP). Check your BRP before you lodge an application.
If you’re moving to work or study in the UK and you don’t have an NI number on your BRP, you’ll have to complete an application – sooner rather than later.