A national insurance number serves as your own personal account number. This ensures that the UK tax and national insurance contributions you pay are properly recorded. It also serves as a reference number for your social security system.
A national insurance number is unique to you and will be the same all your life, even when you go abroad, change your name, or get married. It is made up of letters and numbers.
Many agencies use it which is an indication of how vital it is to get one.
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What is a national insurance number for?
It is your ticket to working in the UK and in paying tax in the UK. This is why you should get one when you’re aged 16 and over and when you want to start working. This will also make you illegible for PAYE Tax Refunds.
Can you work without a national insurance number?
Yes, but you have to prove that you can and are approved to work in the UK. You also need to prove that you already applied for one and inform your employer about it. Once you have a national insurance number give it to your employer.
How to Apply for a National Insurance Number
Applying for one is done by phone, using the national insurance number application line. Take note of the specified schedule and learn about call charges to avoid surprises.
National Insurance number application line
Telephone: 0800 141 2075
Textphone: 0800 141 2438
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Welsh language: 0800 141 2349
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm
If you’re moving to the UK, you may not need to apply for a national insurance number if and when it is printed on your biometric residence permit. Otherwise, apply by phone so working in the UK will not be a problem.
Is there an interview involved?
When you apply for national insurance number, Jobcentre Plus may arrange an ‘Evidence of Identity Interview’ or send a postal application. The goal is to know more as to why you need a national insurance number.
During the interview, you will need to prove your identity, so you must bring as many identity documents as you can. These include residence permit, passport or identity card, birth or adoption certificate, driving licence, and marriage or civil partnership certificate.
It will also indicate the length of time it will take for you to receive your national insurance number.
In the event that you changed address before the postal application is sent to you, you must contact the national insurance number application line and inform the Department for Work and Pensions for the change of address.
Who uses your national insurance number?
The national insurance number not only gives you the rights to work in the UK but also ensure you have access to important agencies, including the taxman when paying tax in the UK.
You need to give your national insurance number to your employer, HM Revenue & Customs, and the Department for Work and Pensions, which includes Jobcentre Plus.
If you want to claim state benefits or Housing Benefit, you need to give your national insurance number to the Pension, Disability and Carers Service and your local council, respectively.
If you apply for a student loan, you also need to give it to the Student Loans Company.
National Insurance and Income Tax
If you have a taxable income, then you need your national insurance number to pay income tax. Tax on your taxable income is payable at different rates depending on your income.