If you are a migrant worker, you must obtain a National Insurance Number (NINO) before applying for benefits such as housing benefit, income support or jobseeker’s allowance. If you claim benefits, you must provide proof of your NINO. This includes submitting it with your application form.
What happens if you lose or misplace your NINO?
You can still claim benefits, but you cannot work while waiting for your NINO to be reissued.
What happens if someone else uses my NINO?
The person using your NINO could face fines or prosecution. They could also become ineligible for certain benefits.
Why does the government require a NINO?
A NINO helps keep track of people living in the UK. Without one, the government cannot know how many people live here and whether they are eligible for benefits.
What’s a National Insurance number?
A National Insurance Number (NINO) is a unique reference number used to identify individuals within the UK tax system. They are assigned to every person living in the United Kingdom. These numbers are allocated by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The NINO is usually written as “NI#”. However, it can sometimes be abbreviated to just “N”, such as in the case of a temporary NINO.
Temporary NINOs are not permitted anymore. In fact, anyone who has been granted one must return it to HMRC once their immigration status expires.
Expatriate numbers are different from normal NI Numbers. Expatriates have their own record of their earnings and tax payments. This is done because many expats live outside the UK for extended periods of time.
Where do I get a number for my National Insurance?
In England, Scotland and Wales the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) issues National Insurance numbers. These are known as NI numbers. They are used to pay benefits such as Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance, Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. A NI number is needed to claim benefits and it must be applied for directly from the DWP. If you live outside of the UK, you will still need to apply for a NI number.
The process of applying for a NI number can take up to 16 weeks. You can apply online via the Government Gateway website. Alternatively, you can call the helpline on 0300 123 9000.
If you don’t receive a response within one week, please contact us again. We’ll let you know what we find out.
Who should know my Social Security number?
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like giving out personal information online, you might be surprised to learn that many organisations do actually need to see your NINO – including HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). They use your NINO to check whether you are eligible for certain benefits or tax credits.
You may think that sharing your NINO with a bank or landlord wouldn’t matter, because they won’t ever ask you about it again. But there are some situations where you’ll need to give your NINO to another person. For example, if you apply for a job or rent somewhere, you’ll need to show ID. Or maybe you’ve been asked to fill out a form asking for your address or date of birth. In either case, you’ll need to give the organisation your NINO.
But how do you protect yourself against being tricked into handing over your NINO? And what happens if you accidentally give away your NINO?
What should I do if I lose my National Insurance number or forget it?
If you have lost your National Insurance Number you can check how you can recover it here.
You can check if you have been affected by the recent changes to the National Insurance Scheme here.
If you don’t know where your National Insurance Number came from you should contact your GP practice or call NHS Direct on 0800 111 999.
If you live in the UK and are under 19
If you didn’t receive a National Insurance number (NI), it doesn’t mean you won’t be entitled to benefits. You still could be eligible for child benefit, tax credits, housing benefit, council tax support, jobseeker’s allowance and income support.
You might even qualify for free school meals.
The government says there are about 2 million people without a NI number.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) estimates about half of those people are eligible for benefits.
They say anyone who hasn’t had a NI number since January 2005 isn’t automatically excluded from claiming benefits.
But if you think you’re one of them, you’ll need to prove it.
To apply for benefits, you’ll have to fill out an online form called My Claim.
If you did not get a National Insurance number
If you haven’t got one, it could cost you thousands. You’ll need to apply for a National Insurance Number (NI Number) – and there are rules about what happens next.
You must have been living in the UK for at least three months before you apply for an NI Number. But if you’re still living abroad, you won’t be able to get one. And even if you’ve lived here for longer than three months, you won’t be eligible unless you’ve had a job since April 2016.
To qualify for an NI Number, you must either live in England, Wales or Scotland, or work in one of those countries.
And if you don’t have an NI Number, you’ll face fines.
The government says anyone without an NI Number will be fined £1,200 per month.
But if you do have an NI Number, it doesn’t mean you’re exempt from paying tax.
HM Revenue & Customs say you’ll still need to pay income tax and national insurance contributions.
If you have a biometric resident permit (BRP)
If you have a biometrics residence permit (BRP), you should apply for an National Insurance number (NI Number). This is because you must provide it when applying for the BRP. Your BRP will contain information regarding your nationality and address. Make sure you keep hold of it, otherwise you won’t be able to prove where you live.
You will need to apply for an NI Number if you are planning to work in the UK. In addition, you will need to provide proof of identity when registering for a job. For example, you could use your passport, driving licence, bank statement, utility bill, council tax bill or NI Number card.
If you’ve already asked for a National Insurance number,
Call the helpline if your application hasn’t been processed yet. You’ll need to provide some proof of address and identity.
If you’re still waiting for it, call the helplines and ask about the status of your application.
Your NI number will arrive within five working days.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I don’t have a National Insurance number, can I still get benefits?
If you are looking to claim benefits, it is important that you know what happens next. You must apply for a National Insurance Number (NI). This could happen in one of three ways:
1. You do not have a NI number. In this case, we understand that you will receive an email telling you to complete a form and send it to us. We will then allocate a NI number for you.
2. Your NI number is incorrect. If this is the case, you will need to provide proof of your correct NI number. Once you have done this, we will check whether we can find evidence that you have been allocated a NI number. If we can’t, we will ask for further information about why you haven’t received your NI number.
3. You already have a NI number. However, if you want to change your NI number, you will need to contact us.
We hope that this helps answer some questions around how to claim benefits. If you have any queries, please call us on 0800 917 5661.
Who uses your National Insurance number
You might think it’s just HMRC that needs to know your NI number – but actually there are many organisations that use it too. They include:
• HM Revenue & Customs – to pay you tax
• Your employer – to make sure you’ve paid enough national insurance contributions
• The Department for Work and Pension (DWP) – to make sure you get the benefit payments you’re entitled to
• The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) – to help people find jobs
• The Department for Transport (DfT) – to keep track of road safety
• The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) – to stop polluters getting away with it