To put it simple you need to have National Insurance Number (NI) so that you could start working legally in the UK. This is basically your registration number which is needed when you sign an employment contract. It is needed by employers to deduct your taxes, by local authorities to provide financial benefits and for dealings with the Inland Revenue. Note that this is not an option – it is a requirement for everyone to have it. You are eligible from this card since you turn 16 years old.
What documents do you need to apply for NI?
- 3 confirmations that you are actively looking for a job. These either letters or emails with the potential employer’s name and address or official email address. All these 3 confirmations can be easily replaced by 1 employment contract if you are already offered a position. However, employers are not keen on issuing these before they have your National Insurance Number since this is the main proof you are entitled to work within the UK. To get these confirmations you will need to send out your CV. As I was a student to obtain this number I presented an official interview confirmation from McDonalds and a rejection letter from Greggs. I actually got away with two confirmations at the time but I am not sure whether this is always possible. The best thing is if you receive an email saying “Thank you we have received you application for the position and will be contacting you in due course”. That is how the confirmation might look like. So three of those and you can call to schedule your interview.
- Confirmation of the address. Right if you are living with someone and you are not paying any bills, have no bank account or mobile phone contract this is going to be a problem. If you are a student you can ask your University administration to issue an official letter on a headed paper confirming your term time address.
- Eligibility to work in the UK. There is no need to evidence this for European Economic Area (EEA) residents (this is EU plus Switzerland citizens). However, if you are from any other country you need to bring all the documents you possibly can related to your Visa and your identity.
- Proof of Identity. This is obviously your passport. Please note that National Identity Card may no longer act for this purpose since the UK have recently started shifting from this kind of proof of identity claiming that they can be easily forged. For example, I once tried to using this in the currency exchange shop when trying to buy a lump sum of £££ and they have refused it. They said that I need to present either passport or at least driving licence. So if I am not taking this risk again – it is just easier to get one of those.
How to schedule an interview?
You need to call Jobcentre Plus application line on 0845 600 0643. Lines are open 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday.
I have now mentioned the interview twice but I have not explained how this works. It is called an interview but as long as you bring all relevant documentation you will get your card. For the interview you will have to go to one of the local Job Centres, this will be explained to you during the call.
Obviously you are going to be asked some questions. Such as all the relevant residency information (all of the previous addresses including overseas), birth details (place, mother’s name, father’s name, siblings), purpose of coming to the UK (do not be afraid to say “to work” if that is true), etc.
As long as you do not make any major mistakes in your application the National Insurance Number will arrive by post in about two weeks time
(temporary one) printed on a paper and the actual card will reach you in about four to twelve weeks.
Temporary National Insurance Number
This is a code your employer used to use to complete your records while you don’t have a permanent one. Your temporary National Insurance Number is TN DD MM YY F/M. DD stands for your day of birth and MM & YY stand for month and year respectively. F/M stand for female and male. So if you are John Smith who is born in 1986 April 26, your temporary National Insurance Number would have been TN 26 04 86 M.
Employers are no longer permitted to use TN numbers and they will not be accepted by the Quality Standard. If the employer does not know an employee’s NINO when they submit their end of year return, they should leave the NINO box blank, enter the employee’s date of birth and gender in the appropriate boxes on the form, following the guidance in Employers’ Guidance, or on the HMRC internet site. In simple words: as of mid 2010, YOU WILL NOT BE GIVEN TEMPORARY INSURANCE NUMBER ANYMORE. You will always have to apply for a full NI regardless if it is a full-time job or just a short summer placement.
National Insurance Contributions
These are different for employed and self-employed.
If you’re employed
If you’re employed you pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions. The rates are:
- if you earn more than £146 a week and up to £817 a week, you pay 12% of the amount you earn between £146 and £817;
- if you earn more than £817 a week, you also pay 2% of all your earnings over £817.
Your contributions are deducted from your wages by your employer.
If you’re self-employed
If you’re self-employed you pay Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions. The rates are:
- Class 2 National Insurance contributions are paid at a flat rate of £2.65 a week;
- Class 4 National Insurance contributions are paid as a percentage of your annual taxable profits – 9% on profits between £7,605 and £42,475, and a further 2 per cent on profits over that amount.
If your profits are expected to be less than £5,595 you may not have to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions.
Your Class 2 National Insurance contributions payments are due on 31 January and 31 July, the same as a Self Assessment tax bill. You pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions either monthly or six monthly by Direct Debit – follow the first link below for more information about payment dates.
You pay Class 4 National Insurance contributions when you pay your Income Tax.