A ביטוח לאומי טלפון number is a unique number that can be found on payslips, P60 tax forms and official letters from HMRC about tax, benefits or pensions. It’s in the format of two prefix letters, six digits and one suffix letter.
NI numbers are recorded on the NIRS/2 computer system which replaced an earlier archaic one without direct user access. NIRS/2 also brought NIC and Income Tax records together on a single system.
What to do if you don’t have your NI number
It’s essential that you always know where your NI number is, and keep it somewhere safe. It’s a crucial piece of information that is used to connect your tax and National Insurance contributions to your official identity, and it’s also the key for accessing important financial and social benefits like healthcare, pensions and unemployment support.
Typically, you’ll get your NI number at the age of 16 if you were born in the UK, or if you moved to the country with your parents or guardians as a child. You’ll receive a letter from HM Revenue and Customs confirming your NI number, and you can find it on documents such as payslips or P60s, or any letters that HMRC send you about taxes, pensions or benefits. You can also view your NI number in your Personal Tax Account or the HMRC app, if you’ve registered for one and can log in.
If you’re unable to access any of the methods above to retrieve your NI number, you can still contact HMRC directly using their contact details on their website. They will be able to help you to complete an application form for a new NI number, or to check your existing NI number. They will ask you to provide some basic information about yourself, and they may need to contact your previous employers if necessary.
What to do if you think you’ve paid more National Insurance than your record shows
National Insurance (NIC) is a tax on earnings and profits paid by employees, employers, and the self-employed. It helps pay for state benefits at times of need, such as unemployment and illness. It also contributes to the State Pension when you get older. You usually pay NIC through the PAYE system, although some people pay through Self-Assessment.
It’s worth checking your NI record regularly to make sure that it is correct, and that there are no gaps in your contributions. These gaps could affect your future entitlement to the State Pension and other benefits.
You can check your NI record online by logging in to your Government Gateway account, using your user ID and password. Once logged in, you can view your complete year-by-year NI record plus a forecast of your state pension.
If you spot any gaps, it’s usually easy to fill them. You can contact HMRC to arrange a voluntary payment, either through the PAYE system or through Self-Assessment. You can also use this method to make up any missed years of NI to protect your State Pension entitlement. You need 35 years of NI contributions or credits to get the full State Pension, but these do not have to be consecutive. You can also buy additional years of State Pension by making voluntary payments.
What to do if you’re a non-UK resident
About five million British people live permanently abroad. A third call Australia or New Zealand home and 28% reside in the USA or Canada. If you move overseas and haven’t worked in the UK for more than 20 years, you can use your NI number to claim a State Pension from your former country of residence, although you’ll need to fill in a self-assessment tax return each year.
The rules for working out your non-resident status can be complicated. You’re generally considered to have spent 183 days or more in the UK in any one tax year – you count the number of days from midnight on 6 April each year. HMRC has brought in a statutory residence test to help you work out your status, but it’s still up to you to work out whether you meet the criteria.
If you do qualify as a non-resident for UK tax purposes, you’ll pay tax only on your income from the UK. This includes any UK government pensions you may have, rental income from UK property and dividends from UK shares. You can find more information in our guide to UK taxes for non residents.
It is usually possible for non-UK residents to open UK business bank accounts, although some providers will ask for extra documentation and might set different terms for non-residents. The rise of digital app-based banks, sometimes called challengers, is increasing the options.
What to do if you’re a self-employed person
There are over 4.2 million people who work for themselves as self-employed workers in the UK, representing around 13% of the labour force. Being self-employed can be a rewarding career choice, but it’s also often very demanding. It can mean working long hours, and you may find it hard to switch off from your business when you’re at home. You’ll need to be able to manage your finances and complete tax returns, and you will probably need to provide some of your own equipment (such as a pick-up truck or scaffolding).
There’s no straightforward legal definition of employment or self-employment, and it’s important to understand the distinction before starting work, because you have different tax and National Insurance obligations depending on whether you are employed or self-employed. For example, some businesses exploit their staff by treating them as self-employed rather than employed, so that the business avoids paying National Insurance contributions on their wages – this is known as false self-employment. HMRC can demand that the business pays tax and National Insurance contributions on your behalf if they believe you have been misclassified as self-employed.
Generally speaking, you will be considered to be self-employed if you: