Why You Need a National Insurance Number
Your National Insurance number is a unique number which HMRC will assign to you for your entire life. It will have 2 letters, then 6 numbers, then 1 letter. This number is not proof of your identity, but the government uses it to track your income and collect taxes. You will find that you need a National Insurance number to apply for employment or higher education. If you need to claim benefits from the UK government, this will also require a National Insurance number to confirm your entitlement. When you are in employment, HMRC uses your number to calculate tax and National Insurance deductions from your wages via the PAYE system. HMRC keeps a record of your contributions because these affect your entitlement to benefits throughout your life, including tax credits and the State Pension.
When to Apply for a National Insurance Number
You should automatically receive a National Insurance number if you are a British citizen living in the UK and your parent submitted a Child Benefit form for you. Even if your parent did not actually claim Child Benefit, filling out the form ensures that HMRC will assign you a National Insurance number. They will send this in a letter a few months before your 16th birthday. Until 2011, they would issue plastic National Insurance number cards, but now they only send a letter. You only need to apply for a National Insurance number if you don’t receive one when you turn 16. It is necessary to provide your National Insurance number when you start work or apply for a Student Finance loan. This includes starting self-employment or claiming income-related state benefits. You must apply if you move to the UK.
How to Apply for National Insurance Number
You have to call the National Insurance helpline if you want to apply for a number. They will ask questions to find out if you need a National Insurance number. They can check if you already have one, even if you don’t know it. If you are a new applicant, then you will have to attend an “evidence of identity” interview. This could take several weeks after you call, depending on availability in your area. Following a successful interview, you will then have to wait for your National Insurance letter to arrive in the post. You must be living in the UK and have the legal right to work or study here. They will expect you to be able to prove this with legal documents. You can work while you are waiting to receive your National Insurance number. Your employer will put you on an emergency tax code until then.
National Insurance Number Interview
After calling to apply, you should soon receive a letter from the DWP inviting you to an interview at a Jobcentre. The “evidence of identity” interview will be one-to-one unless you need an interpreter. The interviewer will ask questions about your life and your family, including your background and current circumstances. They will also expect you to present legal documents proving your identity. You could bring a passport, residence permit, driving licence, birth certificate, or marriage certificate. The letter will tell you the full list of identity documents they can accept. You will have to confirm details such as your address and you may have to fill out a written application. They will tell you at the end of your interview if your application is valid. They will also tell you when you can expect to get your number.
Apply for National Insurance Number Online
You can apply for most things online these days to save time, even legal documents. However, this is usually for renewals only. First-time applications normally require thorough checks, including an in-person interview. For this reason, you cannot apply for a National Insurance number online. You can apply online for a personal tax account with Government Gateway, though. You can log in to find your National Insurance number if you have forgotten it, and print out a copy of the letter. Otherwise, you must contact the National Insurance helpline or submit a form by post. You can fill in the form online and then download it to print out. Once they receive your request, they will send a letter with your National Insurance number in 15 working days. Contact them if you need to update your address.