What is a National Insurance number?
Your National Insurance number (NINo) is a unique personal number which is used to record your National Insurance (NI) contributions. Employees and employers both pay NI contributions, which help to fund contributory benefits, for example, the state pension and jobseeker's allowance. You do not need to have a NINo before starting work, but you must obtain one when you get a job. If you live in the UK you'll normally receive one automatically at age 16.
How do I get one?
If you have the right to work in the UK, you will need to telephone Jobcentre Plus on Tel 0345 600 0643 to arrange to get one. Lines are open 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday and are normally less busy before 9.00 am. They may require you to attend an 'Evidence of identity' interview.
What happens when you apply for a National Insurance number?
Jobcentre Plus will arrange an 'Evidence of Identity' interview for you or send you a postal application. If relevant, they will confirm the date, time and location of your interview and what information/documentation you need to support your application.
What to expect at the 'Evidence of identity' interview?
The interview will usually be one-to-one (unless, for example, you need an interpreter). You will be asked questions about why you need a National Insurance number, your background and circumstances.
You will also have to prove your identity. Bring as many 'identity documents' (originals, not photocopies) as you can to your interview. Examples of documents which count are:
- valid passport (UK or foreign)
- national identity card (UK or foreign)
- residence permit or residence card including biometric immigration residency documents
- full birth or adoption certificate
- full marriage or civil partnership certificate
- driving licence (UK or foreign)
If you don't have any of these - or other - identity documents you still must go to the interview. The information you are able to provide might be enough to prove your identity.
During the interview a National Insurance number application form will be completed and you will be asked to sign it.
What happens next?
If you were asked to provide additional information you will need to do this by the agreed date. Jobcentre Plus will write and let you know whether your application was successful and what your National Insurance number is.
Tell your employer your National Insurance number as soon as you know it. Do not share your National Insurance number with anyone who does not need it as this might help someone to steal your identity.
Keep the letter telling you what your National Insurance number is safe as it is a useful reminder of your number. However, the letter on its own cannot be used to prove your identity and you do not need it to apply for a job or before starting to work. It's the National Insurance number itself that's important.
Find out more on GOV.UK.