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What is National Insurance

Updated: May 18, 2022

If you are not a British Citizen, you will need to apply for a National Insurance number in order to work in the UK. So, what is national insurance? A National Insurance number is made up of a combination of letters and numbers – two letters, six numbers and then another letter, for example: JS 54 28 94 D.

If you’re an employee you start paying National Insurance when you earn more than £184 a week (2021/22).


The National Insurance rate you pay depends on how much you earn, and is made up of:

12% of your weekly earnings between £184 and £967 (2021/22)

2% of your weekly earnings above £967.


If you do not already have a National Insurance number, you only need to apply for one if you’re planning to work.


If you do not have a National Insurance number, you must apply for one if you plan to work. You can only apply when you’re in the UK. To get a National Insurance number you need to apply online and prove your identity.


What you’ll need

If you have the following documents, use them when you apply:

· a passport from any country

· a BRP


You can also use a national identity card from:

· a country in the EU

· Norway

· Liechtenstein

· Switzerland


You can still apply if you do not have any of these documents but you may need to attend an appointment to prove your identity.


Prove your identity

You may be able to prove your identity online by submitting digital photos of your identity documents and yourself. If you cannot prove your identity online then you may need to:

· post photocopies of your documents

· attend an appointment


Apply online

After you apply you’ll get an email with your application reference number. The email will tell you if you need to provide more proof of your identity. It can take up to 16 weeks for you to get your National Insurance number after you have proven your identity.


You can start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you have the right to work in the UK.

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