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National Insurance number
frequently asked questions

What is a National Insurance (NI) number?

It’s the number that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) allocates to you, in order for them to track your tax and National Insurance contributions and ensure that you are paying the correct amount. This number is unique to you; you keep the same number throughout your life. If you need to call the DWP or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), they will ask you for your NI number before they are able to assist you.

Do I really need one? Friends have told me that they worked for years without an NI number.

In short, yes. While you can work for some time with a temporary NI number, the practice of using these numbers to claim back tax is no longer allowed. You will need a permanent NI number in order to claim back overpaid tax at the end of the year.

Can I apply for one before I arrive in the UK?

No, the laws and policy around NI numbers require you to be in the UK with a reasonable need and right to apply for one.

What happens if I forget or lose my NI number?

If you lose or can’t remember your NI number, there are a few places you can usually check to find it. It is usually displayed on your pay slips as well as tax documents issued to you by your employer, for example, a P45 or P60 or a tax return from HMRC.

What is the National Insurance contribution?
Is it like tax?

National Insurance contributions are compulsory deductions taken by your employer from your earnings and given to the UK pension scheme. These contributions are separate to regular income tax and are very similar to the compulsory superannuation payments in Australia. The UK pension scheme will use these funds to pay out to retired UK citizens eligible to draw a pension.


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