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NATIONAL INSURANCE NUMBER: what it is and how to get it

Are you planning to work in the UK? Whether you’re an employee or self-employed, you’ll need a National Insurance Number (NIN) to perform a number of administrative procedures, such as paying your National Insurance contributions, declaring your taxes to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), claiming social or state benefits, or even applying for a student’s loan. Learn everything you need to know about the NIN and how to obtain it in a very simple way here.

National insurance number

what is the NIN?

The National Insurance Number is a unique combination of numbers and letters that identifies you as a worker. You only need to get your NIN once, as it is valid for life.


If you’ve lived in the UK all your life, you have probably received your NIN in the 3 months before your 16th birthday. You may also have already been assigned one if you’ve entered the UK on a visa. You’ll be able to check whether you have a NIN on the back of your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If it’s not there, it means you’ll need to apply for it.


Any UK resident over the age of 16 can apply for a NIN, if the following are true:

  • • You live in the UK
  • • You are UK citizen or have entered on a valid visa
  • • You have the right to work in the UK and are looking for work or have a job offer

If you’re employed and earning above £184 a week, or working as self-employed and making above £6515 a year, you must pay national insurance contributions. The amount you’ll pay depends on how much you earn. You’ll pay national insurance through your wages if you’re employed, or through your self-assessment if you’re self-employed.


There are two ways to request the NIN:

  • Online
  • By phone. If you live in England, Scotland, or Wales, you must contact the National Insurance helpline on 0800 141 2075 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm). If you live in Northern Ireland, call 0800 587 0024 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm).

Documentation needed

No matter what way you choose to apply, you’ll be requested to send some documentation by post to prove your identity and complete the process. Once you have applied, you’ll receive a confirmation email with the address you should send the requested information to. You’ll need to send:

  • The completed and signed NIN form you’ve received by email.
  • A copy of an acceptable form of ID: a passport from any country, a national identity card from an EU country or from Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, or a biometric residence permit (BRP).

After you have applied, you can expect to receive your NIN within 16 weeks by post.

If you are unable to provide the required documentation, you may be asked to attend an appointment to prove your identity.


Unfortunately, if you lost your card, you won't be able to request a replacement as HMRC no longer sends them out. However, there are ways to retrieve your NIN if you lost your card or the confirmation letter you received by post. You may be able to find your NIN written on numerous administrative documents, such as:

  • • Your payslips
  • • P60 (a document given by your employer showing the tax you've paid on your salary in the tax year)
  • • Letters you may have received regarding tax, pensions and benefits
  • • Personal tax account

You can also use the documents listed above as evidence or proof of your National Insurance Number (NIN).

Did you know?

You don’t need to wait until you receive your NIN to commence work. Also, the NIN is free of charge. You’ll only need to pay for the stamp to send the required documentation by post and complete the process. We hope this article has been useful in helping you understand what the NIN is and how you can apply for one.