How to apply for a National Insurance Number (NIN)

Not sure if you need to apply for a National Security Number (NIN)?

If you’ve just moved to London and you have the right to work or study in the UK, then yes, absolutely. When you land in London, call JobCentre Plus and apply as soon as possible to arrange everything you’ll need. You’ll have to go in for an ‘interview’ or fill in some paperwork to prove your eligibility to work in the UK.

The NIN is similar to the Australian TFN, or the American Social Security number. You need one to legally work in the UK. If you’ve applied but don’t get this number before your first pay day (it can take around 2 weeks to process after your interview/paperwork is received), then any money you earn will be taxed at a higher rate.

What is a National Insurance number?

Your National Insurance number is your own personal account number. It is unique to you and you keep the same one all your life. It makes sure that the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded against your name. It also acts as a reference number when communicating with the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Can I apply for a National Insurance Number before I move to the UK?

You may have a National Insurance (NI) number printed on the back of your biometric residence permit (BRP). You don’t need to apply for a National Insurance number if you already have one, or one is printed on your BRP.

If you don’t have a National Insurance number, you must apply but you can only do so once you’re in the UK. You must have the right to work or study in the UK to be eligible.

Can I work in the UK without a NIN?

You can start work before your National Insurance number arrives if you can prove you can work in the UK. You should tell your employer that you’ve applied for one and give it to them as soon as you have it.

Apply for a National Insurance number

You need to apply by phone on the National Insurance number application lines below:
Telephone: 0345 600 0643
Textphone: 0345 600 0644
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

What happens when you apply for a National Insurance number?

Jobcentre Plus will arrange an ‘Evidence of Identity’ interview for you or send you a postal application. If relevant, they’ll confirm the date, time and location of your interview and what information/documentation you need to support your application. As I’m living in the UK on an EU passport, I had to go in for an interview but my friends living here on an Australian working visa only had to do a postal application, so it all depends on your documentation.


National Insurance number interview

Jobcentre Plus may write to you and ask you to come to an interview where you’ll be asked about your circumstances and why you need a National Insurance number.

The letter will also tell you which documents to bring to prove your identity, eg:

  • passport or identity card
  • residence permit
  • birth or adoption certificate
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • driving licence

During the interview a National Insurance number application form will be completed for you to sign, then they’ll let you know how long it’ll take to receive your National Insurance number in the mail.

What happens next?

  • If you were asked to provide additional information you will need to do this by the agreed date. Jobcentre Plus will write and let you know whether your application was successful and what your National Insurance number is.
  • Tell your employer your National Insurance number as soon as you know it. Do not share your National Insurance number with anyone who does not need it as this might help someone to steal your identity.
  • Remember to keep the letter telling you what your National Insurance number is safe as it is a useful reminder of your number. However, the letter on its own cannot be used to prove your identity and you do not need it to apply for a job or before starting to work. It’s the National Insurance number itself that’s important.

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