A ביטוח לאומי טלפון number is a unique number that distinguishes people working within the UK’s social security system. NI numbers follow the format of two prefix letters followed by six digits and one suffix letter.
NI numbers were first used in 1948 as part of the Attlee Government’s Welfare State project. From 1996, a computerised system brought NIC and Income Tax records together for the first time.
What to do if you don’t have your NI number
The easiest way to find your NI number is by looking at official documents that you have received from the government. These may include letters from HMRC (the Department for Work and Pensions responsible for collecting taxes in the UK) and payslips from previous jobs. Your NI number is a nine-digit code consisting of two letters followed by six numbers and then a final letter again (eg, AB123456C).
If you haven’t yet applied for your NI number or can’t find it, the DWP website has an online application form that you can fill in. You will need to register for a Personal Tax Account before starting the application process and you will be asked to provide proof of your identity. You can also apply for an NI number by calling the NI helpline.
You should apply for an NI number as soon as you start working in the UK so that all of your National Insurance and tax payments can be linked to you formally and recorded correctly. You can still work in the UK without an NI number, but you won’t be able to access certain benefits, such as the State Pension. You can check your NI number at any time by using the HMRC app or by logging into your Personal Tax Account. You can also request a letter confirming your NI number by calling the NI helpline or by sending HMRC a message via their website.
What to do if you think you’ve paid more National Insurance than your record shows
A simple check may save you thousands of pounds.
The UK’s National Insurance (NI) system was designed to work like the state equivalent of an insurance policy – you pay in and get benefits when you need them. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your NI payments.
If you are employed, your employer will automatically deduct NIC from your salary. You’ll receive an annual P60 tax statement to confirm how much was paid in and what your NI record shows. If you think you’ve been overpaid, write to HMRC explaining why you believe you are entitled to a refund. It’s best to do this by hand and include your NI number on the letter.
You pay NI contributions on your earnings, with different types of NIC payable depending on whether you are an employee or self-employed. In general, if you are an employee, your NIC is paid by both your employer and yourself (see the employment section for more details). If you’re self-employed you can choose to pay Class 2 NIC voluntary contributions, which will help you build contributory entitlement to state benefits.
You’ll stop paying NI when you reach state pension age, regardless of whether you continue to earn. If you’re considering making voluntary NI contributions, it’s worth checking your State Pension forecast. This will give you an estimate of what your State Pension might be based on your current NI record.
What to do if you’re a non-UK resident
If you’re a non-UK resident, it can be more complicated to open a bank account in the UK than for a UK resident. This is because banks will want proof of residency – such as a utility bill, rental contract or council tax bill. Alternatively, some online and digital app-based providers offer accounts specifically for expats that can be opened remotely from abroad.
There are also a number of ways you can become automatically UK resident for a tax year, including having your only home in the UK, working full time in the UK for six months or more, or meeting what is known as the sufficient ties test. People who are liable to pay National Insurance will need to declare this via their Self Assessment tax return.
Whether you’re a UK or non-UK resident, it’s important to understand how this affects your taxes. For example, if you’re a non-UK resident but your work takes you back to the UK temporarily, you may be liable to pay National Insurance for that period of time. However, this will depend on the type of income you’re receiving and the country you’re in. You may be able to get relief from this under one of the UK’s many double taxation agreements with other countries. For this reason, it’s important to seek specialist advice if you have any questions about your situation.
What to do if you can’t find your NI number
Your National Insurance number is an important piece of information that allows you to participate in the UK’s social security system. If you lose it, or even just forget it, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to retrieve it quickly and efficiently.
The easiest option is to log in to your Personal Tax Account on the Gov website. You’ll need to answer a series of security and identity questions first, but if you’re able to do this successfully, you’ll be able to view your NI number in no time at all.
If you’re unable to access your NI number through your Personal Tax Account for whatever reason, you can call HMRC’s helpline and request it over the phone. Be aware, however, that they won’t give out any personal or financial information over the phone for security reasons, so you will need to fill in a CA5403 form and wait for your NI number to be sent to you via post – which could take up to 15 days.
Lastly, it’s worth checking with any family members who are meticulous record-keepers for old documents that might contain your NI number. Similarly, your employer should have a copy of it on file for tax purposes. If all else fails, you can also contact a law firm that specializes in identity and document retrieval services. This should be your last resort, however, given the potential costs involved.