Apply for a National Insurance number

If you live in the UK you’ll normally receive a National Insurance number automatically at age 16. You’ll need it when claiming state benefits, applying for a student loan or when working. You can start work without one but you'll need to apply for one straight away.

Your National Insurance number

Your National Insurance number is your own personal account number. It is unique to you and you keep the same one all your life. It makes sure the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded against your name.

It also acts as a reference number when communicating with the Department for Communities and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Receiving a National Insurance number

You'll be sent a National Insurance number automatically just before your 16th birthday if both of the following apply:

  • you live in the UK
  • your parents or guardians are getting Child Benefit for you

If you're between 16 and 20 years old and haven't received a National Insurance number, contact the National Insurance registration helpline for advice.

Applying for a National Insurance number

If you don't already have a National Insurance number you must apply for one in the following circumstances. 

If you need to claim benefits or tax credits

If you need to claim benefits or tax credits (or if your partner needs to claim benefits or tax credits for you) you will need a National Insurance number. Your application will be made as part of the benefit claim process.

When starting work or setting up as self-employed

If you start work or set up as self-employed you must apply for a National Insurance number if you do not have one. You do not need to have a plastic National Insurance number card.

If you have the right to work in the UK, you will need to phone your nearest National Insurance processing centre to make an appointment.

Find out more information about your right to work in the UK.

If you have applied for a student loan

If you applied for and have been awarded a student loan and you don't have a National Insurance number, the Student Loans Company will make sure one of the processing centres arrange for you to get one. They may need you to go to an 'evidence of identity' interview.

What happens when you apply for a National Insurance number

The processing centre will arrange an 'evidence of identity' interview for you. They will confirm the date, time and location of your interview and what information or documents 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 include:

  • a valid passport (UK or foreign)
  • a current identity card issued by an EEA or EU member state, or Gibraltar
  • a residence permit or residence card, including biometric immigration residency documents
  • a full birth or adoption certificate
  • a full marriage or civil partnership certificate

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. The processing centre 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 with your National Insurance number 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 work. 

You've lost your National Insurance card or forgotten your number

You don't need to have a card - it's the number that's important. If you’ve lost or can't remember your number, you might be able to find it on official paperwork such as:

  • your P60 (end of year tax statement, given to you by your employer)
  • a payslip
  • a copy of your annual Self Assessment tax return
  • other official correspondence

If you still can't find your number, you can ask HMRC to confirm it by completing and returning CA5403 - Your National Insurance number - GOV.UK or by calling the National Insurance registration helpline.

HMRC cannot confirm your National Insurance number by telephone. They will write to you instead.

More useful links

National Insurance number and Non-UK Nationals

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.