National Insurance: How are your contributions used?
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National Insurance (NI) numbers have three parts – a prefix of two letters, six numbers and a suffix of a single letter. For example, AB123456C. Your NI number holds no personal information about you and it’s randomly allocated by reference number. The number works as a personal account number as it’s unique to you and you’ll have to keep the same one for the rest of your life. The purpose of NI numbers are to ensure NI contributions and tax payments are properly recorded against your name. It also acts as a reference number when communicating with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HMRC.
How to request a National Insurance number
If you start work, or are looking to begin working in the UK, then you’ll need an NI number.
In the case where you don’t already have one, it’s imperative you apply.
As is sometimes confused, you don’t actually need to have a plastic NI card, rather just the number written down somewhere.
If you have the right to work in the UK, then you’ll need to contact JobCentre Plus to apply for an NI number.
The JobCentre plus can be contacted on 0845 600 0643, and lines are open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.
After your application, JobCentre plus will arrange an ‘evidence of identity’ interview for you.
But as things stand with COVID-19, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be asked to come in for an interview. More likely, you’ll be sent an application via post.
If relevant, they will confirm the date, time and location of your interview or the documentation needed to support your application.
If you’ve been asked to provide additional information, you’ll need to submit this by the date agreed between you and JobCentre plus.
The authority will write to you and let you know whether your application for an NI number was successful, alongside the actual number.
A good idea is to always save the NI letter you’ve been sent as this can come in handy in the future.
However, the letter on its own cannot be used to prove your identity and you don’t need it to apply for a job or before starting work – it’s the number itself that counts.
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If you’ve lost or can’t remember your number, you might be able to find it on official paperwork.
NI numbers normally appear on:
- Your P60 (end of year tax statement, given to you by your employer)
- A payslip
- A copy of your annual Self-Assessment Tax Return
- Other official correspondence
If you still can’t find your number, you can contact HMRC and ask them to confirm it.
You can opt to either complete and return form CA5403, which will confirm your NI number, or contact the National Insurance Registrations Helpline on: 0845 915 7006.
If you’re choosing to call, lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm.
It’s worth noting HMRC cannot confirm your NI number over the phone, and will instead write to you.
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