How to apply for a National Insurance Number (NI) if you
don't have one, have lost or can't remember it
If you don't have a National Insurance number (NI), it is possible to apply for one. You need one, such as for claiming benefit, for example.
Your National Insurance number is your own personal account number, it is unique to you and you will keep the same one all your life (e.g FH123456A).
The number makes sure that the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded on your account. It also acts as a reference number when communicating with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
You must keep your number safe and not disclose it to anyone who does not need it, this will help to prevent identity fraud.
Receiving a National Insurance number automatically
You'll be sent a National Insurance number automatically just before your 16th birthday if both of the following apply:
- you live in United Kingdom
- your parents or guardians are getting Child Benefit for you
If you’re between 16 and 20 years old and haven’t received a National Insurance number contact the National Insurance Registrations Helpline on 0845 915 7006 for advice. Lines are open 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
When to apply for a National Insurance number
You must apply for a National Insurance number if:
- you need to claim benefits and/or tax credits
- you have the right to work in the UK
- you are entitled to and have applied for a student loan and require a National Insurance number
Claim benefits and/or tax credits
If you need to claim benefit and/or tax credit (or if your partner needs to claim benefit / tax credit for you) your application for an NI number will be done as part of the benefit claim process.
Right to work in the UK
If you have the right to work in the UK and you are looking for, starting work or are setting up as self-employed telephone Jobcentre Plus on 0845 600 0643. Lines are open 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
Student loans and National Insurance numbers
If you are entitled to and have applied for a student loan and require a National Insurance number the Student Loans Company will arrange for Jobcentre Plus to contact you.
How to apply for a National Insurance number
Jobcentre Plus will arrange an Evidence of Identity (EOI) interview for you or send you a postal application. They will confirm the date, time and location of your interview. They will also tell you what information and documentation is required to support your application.
What to expect at the 'Evidence of Identity' interview
The interview will usually be one-to-one (unless, for example, you need an interpreter). You will be asked questions about who you are, why you need an National Insurance number, your background and circumstances. During the interview an application for an National Insurance number form will be completed and you will be asked to sign this form.
If you don’t have any official documents you still have to go to the interview. The information you are able to provide might be enough to prove your identity.
Proving your identity
You will need to prove your identity to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if:
- you are starting work or looking for work and need an National Insurance number
- you need an National Insurance number in order to claim benefit, pension or allowance
DWP will accept a range of documents (originals, not photocopies) when you are proving your identity. The following list is not exhaustive and you should always bring as many identity documents as you can to your interview, for example:
- valid passport (UK or foreign)
- national identity card (UK or foreign)
- residence permit or residence card (including biometric immigration residency documents)
- full birth certificate
- adoption certificate
- full marriage certificate
- civil partnership certificate
- driving licence (UK or foreign)
If you do not have any of these (or any other) identity documents, then you can still apply for a National Insurance number and the information you supply will be checked and may be sufficient to prove your identity.
What happens after the interview
If you were asked to provide additional information you will need to do this by the agreed date. Jobcentre Plus will then write to you letting you know whether your application has been successful or not and notifying you of your National Insurance number where appropriate.
You should tell your employer your National Insurance number as soon as you know it.
However you obtain your National Insurance number normally you’ll get a plastic National Insurance number card too. This may take up to 12 weeks from when you applied.
The card is a useful reminder of your National Insurance number but it is not proof of your identity and you don’t need to have one to start work. It’s your National Insurance number that’s important not the card.
Once you receive your card, if you would like it printed in both English and Welsh telephone the HMRC Welsh Language Helpline on 0845 302 1489. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
Lost or can't remember your National Insurance number
If you think you already have a number but can't remember it, you might be able to find it on official paperwork like:
- your P60 (end of year tax statement, given to you by your employer)
- a payslip
- a copy of your annual tax return
- other official correspondence
If you still can't find your number, you can ask HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to confirm it by:
- contacting the National Insurance Registrations Helpline on 0845 915 7006 (lines open 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday)
If you’ve received your National Insurance number but:
- not received your National Insurance number card
- you've lost your National Insurance number card
You do not have to have a card as long as you know your National Insurance number. You’re only allowed 1 replacement card.