Everyone who works in any capacity in the UK will need a National Insurance Number. UK citizens are allocated a National Insurance number at the age of 16. International and EEA students need to register for a NI number.
Information for all students
What is National Insurance (NI)?
National Insurance contributions build up entitlement to certain benefits and go towards the UK social security and state pension system.
What is a National Insurance (NI) Number?
It is a unique personal number that is used to identify you to HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions. It ensures your contributions are correctly recorded. Employers need to have your NI numbers so that contributions are paid from your wages. When you finish a job you will receive a P45 which states all you have earned for that company.
Do I have to pay National Insurance (NI) contributions?
If you do not work you do NOT have to pay NI contributions, they will not be deducted from your loan or scholarship. However you can pay voluntary contributions to ensure you qualify for the minimum retirement pension and widows benefits.
How much will I pay?
The type and level of contributions you pay depends on how much you earn and whether you are employed or self employed. The more you earn the more you pay and there is no reduced tariff for students. The contribution period/financial year for National Insurance runs between 6th April and 5th April each year. You only pay contributions if you work while you are studying; generally the amount you pay is 12% of wages if you earn more than £139 per week. You can apply for jobs without a NI number but the law states that you need to provide it to your employer when you have started work.
Can I claim NI back?
No - these contributions entitle you to welfare benefits. If you are a student from another European country you may be able to transfer contributions to your home country. Contact the International Services Department of the Contributions Agency before you leave the UK (Tel: 0845 915 4811).
What if I am paid cash in hand or I am self employed?
If you are paid cash in hand or are self employed you are advised to keep a record of your earnings - you may later need to prove whether you earned enough. Contact Jobcentre Plus and the Tax office (tel: 0845 302 1456) for advice. Alternatively contact a member of the Welfare and International team in Student Support and Wellbeing.
Please note, if you are paid cash in hand your employer may not be recording your wages correctly, and may not be paying you the correct wage you are legally entitled to. If you are not issued with a pay slip the employer is breaking the law and you will not be insured against workplace accidents or damage caused by or to you.
What if I have lost my National Insurance card?
Telephone 0845 915 7006 to order a replacement. Take care of your card as you are only allowed one replacement.
Students from outside the UK
Students from outside the UK who intend to work need to apply for a National Insurance number. Anyone who has proof of their legal right to work can apply.
How do non-UK students get a National Insurance number?
Contact the Jobcentre Plus National Insurance Number Allocation Service, telephone 0845 6000 643. Staff will tell you whether you can apply for your NI number via a 'fast pass' application or if you have to attend an 'evidence of identity' interview.
- Fast Pass Applications - If eligible, Jobcentre Plus will ask you to send information such as your passport or identity card (and visa if outside EEA).
- Evidence of Identity (EOI) Interviews - Jobcentre Plus will confirm the date, time and location of the interview and tell you what documentation you need to bring. The appointment will be confirmed within 14 days of your telephone call and the interview should take place within 2-3 weeks.
For both types of application the permanent NI number should be issued within 10-14 days, and the card posted out to you within 6-8 weeks.
The application process may be speeded up if:
- You have been offered a job and have evidence e.g. letter from the employer with a start date, or you are already working for an employer and have evidence.
Can I start work without a NI number?
Yes, you do not need a NI number before you apply or start a job. You can give your employer your NI number when you are told what it is.
Help and Support
Contact Jobcentre plus for general advice, telephone 0191 215 047