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 of 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.
You'll be sent a National Insurance number automatically just before your 16th birthday if both of the following apply:
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.
You must apply for a National Insurance number if:
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.
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.
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.
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.
You will need to prove your identity to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if:
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:
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.
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.
If you think you already have a number but can't remember it, you might be able to find it on official paperwork like:
If you still can't find your number, you can ask HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to confirm it by:
If you’ve received your National Insurance number but:
You do not have to have a card as long as you know your National Insurance number. You’re only allowed 1 replacement card.
To request a card:
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