How to apply for a National Insurance number

Learn what to do if you need one or you've lost yours.

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A National Insurance number (sometimes called “NI No” or “NINO”) is an important government-issued number that you’ll need when you do the following:

  • Start a job
  • Apply for student loans
  • Apply to claim benefits

How to apply for a National Insurance number

If you are an international student or have just moved to the UK, you’ll likely need to apply to get a National Insurance number. In many cases, your NINO is included on your biometric residence permit. But if not, you will have to apply for it through the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). To qualify for one, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be present in the UK
  • Have the right to work or study in the UK

To apply for a NINO, you must call the National Insurance number application line and set up an “evidence of identity” appointment.

You can contact them anytime between 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday on the following numbers:

  • Telephone: 0800 141 2075
  • Textphone: 0800 141 2438

You will then receive a letter from the DWP detailing your interview appointment and Jobcentre Plus interview location. The letter will also detail what documentation you would need to bring with you on the day of the appointment.

How to prepare for the interview

The interview process for getting a NINO is fairly straightforward. During the one-on-one interview, you will be asked why you are applying for a National Insurance number, your background and your status in the UK. You will also need to bring proof of your identity (make sure to bring original documents, not copies!).

Acceptable documents for proof of identity include the following:

  • Passport or identity card
  • Residence permit
  • Birth or adoption certificate
  • Driving licence
  • Marriage certificate

At the interview, you will fill out and sign a National Insurance number application form and be told how long your application will take to process.

What happens after?

If you were asked to provide further details or documentation during your interview, you must submit the information following your interview by the agreed-upon date. After your application and interview process are complete, the DWS will contact you and let you know whether your application was successful and provide you with your National Insurance number.

Finding a lost National Insurance number

Your NINO should be listed on your National Insurance card. However, don’t worry if you’ve lost your card. It’s not necessary to have a national insurance card, it’s the number that’s important. So long as you remember that, you’ll be fine. But if you’ve lost or forgotten your NINO, you can generally find it listed on your payslips, P60 and different tax or pension letters.

But if you still can’t find it, you can do the following:

Note that you will not be told your NINO over the phone. You will receive the number in the mail within 15 working days after requesting it.

What is a National Insurance number?

It is a number used by the government to record your National Insurance contributions, which qualify you for various benefits including State Pension. Think of it like your personal account number, which ensures that contributions and tax payments are accurately recorded against your name.

You pay National Insurance if you are over 16 and are one of the following:

  • Employed and earn over £166 a week
  • Self-employed and make a profit of £6,365 or more yearly

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