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National Insurance Numbers

What is a National Insurance Number (NINO)?

A NINO is a personal account 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 for the whole social security system. Every National Insurance number is different. It's made up of letters and numbers like this:
QQ 12 34 56 A.

What are National Insurance contributions?

The Inland Revenue collects National Insurance contributions, which pay towards benefits such as a state pension, unemployment benefit and funding the National Health Service. A portion goes to a second state government fund.

Do I need a NINO to work in the UK?

Yes. If you intend to work while studying in the UK, any employer will require you to provide them with your NINO so that they can pay your wages and make any applicable tax/ national insurance deductions. UK residents are allocated a number automatically at the age of 16. If you are a national of another country you will need to apply for an NINO. Most employers will require that you have obtained your NINO or provide evidence that you are in the process of applying for it before you can start working.

How do I get a National Insurance Number (NINO)?

To obtain a NINO you must be over 16 and resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.  You will need to apply for your NINO through the government agency Job Centre Plus.  You should telephone Job Centre Plus on 0845 6000 643 to start the application process. This telephone line is open from 8am- 6pm Monday- Friday. You will need to  provide the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your full UK address and postcode
  • A contact telephone number
  • Your country of origin
  • Your current visa status
  • The date you entered the UK
  • Confirmation that you are either working, have been offered a job or are actively seeking work.

You will be told whether you will need to attend an interview or submit a postal application for a NINO. EU nationals and international students that have extended their visa within the UK will be required to attend an interview. International students holding an entry clearance visa (issued in their home country) will be required to make a postal application.

The following documents will be required to support your NINO application:

  • Proof of your identity such as your passport
  • Evidence that you are either:
    a. working e.g. pay slips
    b. have been offered a job e.g. a letter from your employer/ employment contract
    c. are actively seeking work e.g. evidence of job applications you have made or interviews you have attended.
  • One official document as proof of your UK address e.g. utility bill/ bank statement/ accommodation contract.

Please note that being issued with a NINO is not in itself permission to work. You should ensure that you know whether you are allowed to work and the restrictions that you are subject to before making an application for a NINO. See our information sheet ‘Working during your studies’ for further information.

What happens next?

f your application is successful you will receive a letter in the post within 28 days of making your application. This letter will confirm your NINO.  As soon as you get the letter you should tell your employer immediately.

What happens if I lose my NINO?

If you lose your NINO you should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by telephone (08459157006). They will send you a letter re-confirming your NINO.

What if I change my name or address?

If you change your name or address then you should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by telephone (08459157006).This is necessary to update your NINO account.  

Further information

HM Revenue & Customs