National Insurance Number
What is a National Insurance number?
Basically an N.I number is similar to the Tax File number (TFN ) that you would have in Australia or the IRD in New Zealand.
Your National Insurance number is a unique personal number allocated to you that is used to identify you to HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions. It ensures the Government correctly records any contributions you are entitled to, or which are paid into your NI account. Your National Insurance contributions go towards the UK social security and state pension system. Everyone who works in any capacity in the UK will need to register for an NI number.
The number makes sure that the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded on your account. It also acts as a reference number when communicating with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
You must keep your number safe and not disclose it to anyone who does not need it; this will help to prevent identity fraud.
How do I get a NIN?
To apply for an NI number you will need to make an appointment at your local Jobcentre when you arrive in the UK. At the interview you will need to provide proof of your identity and account for all your past years, work and travel, and how and when you arrived in the UK. It can be a lengthy process so be prepared.
To book an appointment for an NI number interview you should phone JobCentre Plus 0845 600 0643 (8am – 6pm Monday to Friday) once you arrive in the UK. As part of i4’s service we are able to assist you with booking your N.I appointment when you attend your Orientation meeting in our London office.
When you call, you will be asked a series of identifying and qualifying questions about your visa status and place of residence in the UK.
Jobcentre Plus will then arrange an Evidence of Identity (EOI) interview for you or send you a postal application. They will confirm the date, time and location of your interview. They will also tell you what information and documentation is required 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 who you are, why you need a National Insurance number, your background and circumstances. During the interview an application for a National Insurance number form will be completed and you will be asked to sign this form.
If you don’t have any official documents you still have to go to the interview. The information you are able to provide might be enough to prove your identity.
Proving your identity
DWP will accept a range of documents (originals, not photocopies) when you are proving your identity.
The following list is not exhaustive and you should always bring as many identity documents as you can to your interview, for example:
• valid passport (UK or foreign)
• national identity card (UK or foreign)
• residence permit or residence card (including biometric immigration residency documents)
• full birth certificate
• adoption certificate
• full marriage certificate
• civil partnership certificate
• driving licence (UK or foreign)
If you do not have any of these (or any other) identity documents, then you can still apply for a National Insurance number and the information you supply will be checked and may be sufficient to prove your identity.
What happens after the interview?
If you were asked to provide additional information you will need to do this by the agreed date. Jobcentre Plus will then write to you letting you know whether your application has been successful or not and notifying you of your National Insurance number where appropriate.
You should tell your employer your National Insurance number as soon as you know it.
However you obtain your National Insurance number normally you’ll get a plastic National Insurance number card too. This may take up to 12 weeks from when you applied. The card is a useful reminder of your National Insurance number but it is not proof of your identity and you don’t need to have one to start work. It’s your National Insurance number that’s important not the card.
You can find more information about applying for a National Insurance Number on the DWP website.