אתר ביטוח לאומי is a key part of the UK’s welfare state. The NI system includes employee and employer contributions, which are credited to an individual’s NI account and determine their entitlement to certain state benefits.
NI contribution records are now recorded using the NIRS/2 computer system which replaced the older National Insurance Recording System in 1996. This new system provided direct access to an individual’s NI account for the first time.
Information about National Insurance
National Insurance (NIC) is a type of social security tax that pays for state benefits like the state pension, unemployment benefit and sickness pay. It is paid both by employees through the PAYE system and self-employed people who file a Self Assessment tax return. The amount of NIC payable depends on the individual’s earnings.
A person’s NI number is unique to them and acts as a reference for their NIC payments. It also ensures that they receive the correct state pension, maternity and paternity pay and other state benefits. The NI system in the UK is based on employer and employee contributions with the latter usually deducted from their wages by their employer. Self-employed people make their own NI payments and can also top them up via class 3 voluntary NIC contributions.
Individuals can check information about their NI record online using the Personal Tax Account. They will need a Government Gateway user ID and password to access the service which is available in English, Welsh and Cantonese. The system brings NI and income tax records together for the first time. It also lets individuals view how many years of National Insurance contributions they’ve made which may affect their future state pension entitlement. Generally, people need 35 years of contributions or credits to qualify for a full state pension when they retire.
How to get a National Insurance number
You get a National Insurance number, which looks something like AB123456C, just before you turn 16. It stays the same for life and is used to tie your National Insurance contributions (NICs) and tax payments to you specifically. It also helps build up your entitlement to benefits, including the state pension.
Employers will deduct NICs from your wages depending on how much you earn. You’ll pay Class 1 NICs if you work as an employee, and Class 2 NICs if you are self-employed. You may also be liable to pay Class 4 profits-related NICs, depending on what you are earning.
Your NI number is unique to you, and it’s a good idea to keep a record of it as you’ll need it to check your National Insurance record in future, and when you apply for things like a driving licence or ISA savings account. You’ll usually find it on payslips and HM Revenue and Customs documents such as P60s, or on letters about tax, pensions and benefits.
If you’re a UK resident and have the right to work, you can apply online for an NI number. If you haven’t already got one, you’ll need to prove your identity by providing documents such as a passport or biometric residence permit. It can take up to four weeks to receive your NI number by post.
What to do if you think you’ve paid more National Insurance than your record shows
The National Insurance system is a crucial part of the welfare state in the UK. Payment of NI contributions establishes entitlement to a number of state benefits including the State Pension. The system operates by collecting a series of payments called ‘contributions’ – these are paid by employees and employers on earnings and by self-employed people on their profits and certain benefits-in-kind. The system also allows individuals to pay voluntary ‘top up’ contributions in order to fill gaps in their contribution records and protect their future pension entitlement.
In April 2010 a change was made to the way in which time at home with children counted towards the new State Pension. The new system means that each year at home with children counts in full towards a qualifying State Pension period just as it does for years in paid work. DWP are concerned that there may be problems with the way this change has been recorded in their National Insurance database.
If you think there are gaps in your record of NI payments, contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to discuss the situation. They can give you information about how to make voluntary ‘top up’ contributions. These will not automatically improve your future State Pension but it is worth finding out if you could benefit. They can be contacted using the phone number shown on their website.
How to check your National Insurance record
Your National Insurance record shows all your NI contributions, and any National Insurance credits you’ve been paid. You can see this information on the Government website – but you’ll need a Government Gateway user ID to sign in. If you haven’t already got one, you can apply to set up one on the same website – you’ll need your National Insurance number and other personal details to do this.
This will let you check if you have any gaps in your NI record, and how many qualifying years you’ve paid or been credited with to get the new State Pension (which replaced the old basic State Pension from April 2016). It will also show whether you can pay voluntary contributions to fill gaps. But it’s important to check whether these are the right option for you, as they don’t always boost your State Pension.
You can also get a printed National Insurance statement by calling HMRC or writing to them. But it won’t include any information about the current or previous tax year. This is because your NI contributions are only counted in ‘qualifying years’, and not in the year you receive them. You can ask for a statement for up to 10 qualifying years. It won’t include the first six of those years though, as you can’t pay National Insurance for them yet.