How do I get a National Insurance number?
If you want to work or claim benefits in the UK, you must have a National Insurance number (‘NINO’). To obtain a NINO you must be 16 or over and resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.
You can start work without one but you must then apply immediately. The law requires you to apply for a number if you do not already have one and you are working or are intending to work.
Your National Insurance number (‘NINO’) ensures that the Government properly records your National Insurance contributions and taxes your pay. It also acts as your reference number for the whole social security system, for example when you contact the Department for Work and Pensions or HMRC.
Your NINO is unique to you throughout your life but it is not a form of identity. You must never use someone else’s NINO. Every person has their own number and each member of your family aged 16 or over should have their own number.
A NINO is made up of two letters, six numbers and a final letter, for example QQ 12 34 56 A.
You usually get sent a National Insurance number (‘NINO’) just before your 16th birthday. If you do not receive one and you are under 20 years old then call the National Insurance numbers helpline.
In England, Scotland and Wales the Department for Work and Pensions (‘DWP’) issues NINOs. For individuals who live in Northern Ireland, the Department for Social Development (‘DSD’) issues them.
If you come to the UK from abroad to work, you will need to apply for one.
To apply for a NINO in England, Scotland or Wales, you should telephone the National Insurance number application line.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can contact your nearest NINO processing centre.
The following people may need to know your NINO:
- HM Revenue & Customs (‘HMRC’)
- employers and pension providers
- Department for Work and Pensions
- local council
- the Student Loans Company
- banks and building societies if you want to open an ISA.
Do not give your NINO to anyone who does not need to know it.
If you suspect that someone has stolen your NINO and is committing identity fraud or theft, you should contact HMRC and tell them what you think has happened.
The website getsafeonline.org also provides guidance on how to protect yourself from identity fraud.
If you need a letter confirming your NINO, you can print a letter from your Personal Tax Account.
If you lose or forget your NINO, you may be able to find it on official documents, for example, payslips from a job, your tax return or a PAYE coding notice.
It is also possible to ask HMRC to confirm it by:
- completing form CA5403 ‘Your National Insurance Number’ and sending it to HMRC; or
- contacting the National Insurance Helpline if you are in England, Scotland or Wales, or the National Insurance Registration helpline if you are in Northern Ireland.
Whichever method you use, HMRC will write to you and confirm the NINO. They will not provide the NINO over the telephone.