Tips on How to Apply for a National Insurance Number
By Kelly Henderson (follow Kelly on Twitter @kellythekiwi)
If you have arrived in London (or anywhere in the UK) with the intention of working then you will need to apply for a National Insurance number. Below you will find important information and tips on how to apply for a NI number.
What is a National Insurance number?
An NI number is a number allocated to almost every adult living in the UK. It is used by HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions to track your taxes and national insurance contributions.
People who are born in the UK are automatically allocated an NI number about the time of their 16th birthday. Everybody else must apply for one when they arrive.
How do I apply for a National Insurance number?
#1 JobCentre Plus | Apply Free of Charge
Contact JobCentre Plus (0345 600 0643) to set up an interview for you. Be aware that the phone line can be really busy – make yourself a cup of tea and be prepared to hold.
JobCentre Plus will give you the date, time and location of your appointment (or Evidence of Identity interview) and inform you of what you need to bring. Your appointment will generally be at your closest JobCentre office and you will be asked to provide some form of identification such as:
- Passport/identity card
- Proof of address
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
It could be about 6 – 8 weeks until you receive your NI number in the post so this isn’t really the quickest way of doing things.
If you would rather have somebody help you with setting up the appointment and filling in the application forms, there are a couple of companies that can help you (at a cost).
#2 National Insurance Application Service | Application costing £52.50
The National Insurance Application Service (or NI Apply) offer two different services – Standard and Fast Track. The only difference is the time that it takes them to process your application – 3-5 days for the Standard service and 24 hours for the Fast Track.
Once you have completed your application an agent will be assigned to your case. They will make sure that there are no problems with your application form, book your appointment and check through the evidence that you are taking in with you.
This service isn’t the cheapest though with the Standard Application costing £52.50 and the Fast Track costing £54.50.
#3 1st Contact | Application costing £30
1st Contact work in a similar way except they are quite a bit cheaper. Also, there may be a possibility that you don’t even have to attend an interview.
If you are from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa or a Non-EEA country then you won’t need to go to an interview. Once you fill out the 1st Contact form and pay £30 you will be sent an application form. Complete this, send it back and your National Insurance number will be with you in 2-4 weeks.
For those countries who this does not apply for then you will still need to attend the interview but you will be guided through the whole process by somebody from 1st Contact.
You can start applying for your National Insurance number whilst you are looking for work but make sure you do it as soon as you enter the UK otherwise you could end up paying a higher tax rate.
If you need more advice then have a look at our guide for those of you who have just moved to London.
You may also want to check out the smartest way to transfer money abroad.