Your National Insurance number is one of the few things in life that will stay with you forever. It is the number by which HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will keep track of your employment, tax, and state benefit-related information.
Your National Insurance number is nine digits long, and just like with most phone numbers in your contacts, it’s not something people tend to remember by heart. When filling out a Self Assessment tax return, starting a new job, or contacting the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), you will always need your National Insurance number on hand.
Knowing where to look for it can be a bit of a struggle, especially if you’re in a hurry. HMRC used to give out National Insurance cards but they’ve since stopped this practice. However, generally speaking, finding your National Insurance number is a straightforward process as long as you use the correct avenue.
That’s why in this article, we will briefly explain what your National Insurance number is, the fastest ways to find it, and what to do if you never received one.
How do I find my National Insurance number?
There are various ways to find a forgotten or lost National Insurance number. You can utilise more traditional methods such as requesting it to be sent to you via post, calling the National Insurance numbers helpline, or sifting through your old documents. Arranging your National Insurance number to be sent via post can take up to 15 days to arrive, which is far from ideal. The helpline won’t give you your National Insurance number over the phone; they will simply post a letter to you. These methods aren’t the most efficient and can take considerably longer than finding it online.
As part of the government’s Making Tax Digital scheme, much of the information you’d typically have to contact HMRC about can now be found online. Therefore, to get your National Insurance number instantly, the best option is to access it online through your Personal Tax Account or the HMRC app. There you’ll be able to find all things tax and National Insurance related, and it will save you a bunch of time in the process. Scroll down below for more detailed information on all these methods.
What is your National Insurance number?
Your National Insurance number is a unique reference number that is used to identify and keep a record of all your National Insurance contributions and tax-related affairs throughout your working life. It is nine digits long and follows the format of two letters, a subsequent six numbers, and then a final letter again – it will look something like AB123456C.
Your National Insurance number is used to document how much tax and National Insurance you’ve paid. Therefore, it is the determining factor when calculating what benefits you will be entitled to – such as State Pension – and how much of it.
Since your National Insurance contributions play a huge part in your working life and your retirement, your National Insurance number will never change – it will stay the same for the rest of your life. That’s why it’s crucial that you know your National Insurance number, and you keep it safe, just as you would with any other personal information. Luckily, if you’ve somehow lost or forgotten your National Insurance number, there are numerous avenues to find it again.
Who pays National Insurance?
Whilst many people think it’s just employees that make National Insurance contributions, they aren’t the only ones. Self-employed workers have to pay it too, as well as employers. People who are currently not paying National Insurance can also make voluntary contributions if they choose to. So for those who may be unemployed, at State Pension age, or receiving credits, they are still able to top up their National Insurance contributions.
How much you pay will depend entirely on your income and if you exceed the threshold, and also what tax bracket you are in. Those in higher tax brackets will tend to pay more in National Insurance contributions than those who are lower-income earners, but there are numerous calculators out there that will help you find the exact amount of National Insurance you need to pay based on the factors above.
How do I find my National Insurance number?
As mentioned earlier, you have four main ways to find your National Insurance number. The first three are more traditional methods to find it and will take much longer. They include requesting your National Insurance number by post, contacting the National Insurance number helpline by phone, or going through old documents. However, there is a better approach – finding it online. The government website will give you access to this information and will ensure you’re not waiting any longer than you should be. Let’s explore each option in more detail.
Finding your National Insurance number online
This will be the easiest and quickest way to find your National Insurance number; all you have to do is log in to your Personal Tax Account. Here, you’ll also be able to get your National Insurance number printed in the form of a letter from HMRC, which can be used as proof if you ever need it.
If you don’t have a Personal tax Account yet, you can create one using your Government Gateway user ID, and it should take no longer than five minutes. Once your account has been created, you will be able to quickly access all your tax-related information in one place.
You can also use the HMRC app, which is similar to the Personal Tax Account. You will be able to access all your tax-related information here as well as your National Insurance number. You can download the app on your mobile phone using the App (iOS) or Google Play (Android) store.
Finding your National Insurance number by post
If you cannot create a Personal Tax Account or access the HMRC app for whatever reason, you can fill in a CA5043 form online and have your National Insurance number sent to you via post. It should be noted that receiving your number can take up to 15 days with this method, therefore making it a less desirable option.
Finding your National Insurance number by phone
You can also call the National Insurance number helpline to speak to someone. Unfortunately, they will not give personal or financial information over the phone, which includes your National Insurance Number, due to security reasons. Instead, they will arrange for a letter to be posted to your address. This, too, can take up to 15 days to arrive.
If you’re in the UK, you can contact the National Insurance numbers helpline on 0300 200 3500. If you’re calling from outside the UK, you can contact them at +44 191 203 7010.
It should be noted that HMRC will never ask for your bank account or credit card details, so ensure you never give these out over the phone.
Finding your National Insurance number on a document
You may have a document lying around with your National Insurance number on there, which would be a better option than relying on it to be sent to you via post. Your National Insurance number will be included on documents such as a payslip, a P60, or a letter you’ve received from HMRC regarding your pension or tax-related queries.
When do you usually receive your National Insurance number?
If you are a UK resident, typically, HMRC will send you your National Insurance number a few months before your 16th birthday. This is because children below the age of 16 are unable to work full-time hours; once you are able to work full-time hours, you will begin to make NI contributions if your income exceeds the threshold.
What if I never received my National Insurance number?
If you didn’t receive a National Insurance number, or you become a UK resident between the ages of 16 and 19 years old, your exact course of action will depend on whether your parent or guardian has filed a Child Benefit Claim for you. If you are sure your parent or guardian has not filed a claim for you, then you can apply for a National Insurance number online. However, if you’re uncertain, the best course of action may be to call the National Insurance numbers helpline on 0300 200 3500 as they will be able to help you with the process. If you are older than 20 years old and have not received your National Insurance number, then you will have to apply for one.