How do I get a National Insurance number?

Updated on 23 March 2020


One of the most important things you need to do on arrival in the UK for the first time is to obtain a National Insurance number (NINO). If you want to work or claim benefits in the UK, you must obtain a NINO.

The UK left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020 and entered a transitional period, currently due to end on 31 December 2020, during which EU law continues to apply in the UK. The UK’s relationship with the EU beyond the end of the transitional period has not yet been finalised. Please note that the guidance below reflects the law as it applied before the UK’s departure from the EU, and as it will continue to apply throughout the transitional period.

What is a National Insurance number?

A NINO ensures that the National Insurance contributions (NIC) or taxes you pay are properly recorded on your HMRC record. There is more general information about NINOs in the tax basics section.

Having a NINO does not mean that you have the right to work in the UK, so you should expect your employer to carry out checks to ensure that you have the right to work in the UK – they face sanctions if they do not.

A NINO beginning with the letters 'TN' is a temporary (TN) NINO – you may have one of these if you have worked in the UK in the past. TN numbers are not permitted to be used anymore and will not be accepted by HMRC.

Expatriate employees (that is, those seconded into the UK from an overseas employer) may be issued with numbers in the format 67 F5 76 88 to act as a reference for their record with HMRC.  

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Where do I get a National Insurance number from?

In England, Scotland and Wales the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) issues NINOs. For individuals who live in Northern Ireland, the Department for Social Development (DSD) issues them.

To apply for a NINO in England, Scotland or Wales, you should telephone the NINO application service. You can find the contact details on GOV.UK.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can contact your nearest NINO processing centre as follows:

  • Belfast – Shaftesbury Square – 028 9013 8286
  • Portadown – 028 3877 3046
  • Lisnagelvin – 028 7185 5407 or 028 7185 5406

You can find more information on applying for a National Insurance number in Northern Ireland from NIDirect.

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What is a National Insurance interview?

During the telephone call the adviser will make sure that you need a NINO and may arrange for an interview.

The interview will usually be one-to-one (unless, for example, an interpreter is required) and the purpose is to find out why you need a NINO and whether you can be given one. DWP will also need to confirm your identity and this part of the interview (sometimes called the ‘evidence of identity interview’) may be needed by HMRC for benefits such as tax credits and child benefit.

The interviewer will ask you questions about your background and circumstances and ask to see all your official documents, including your passport and any other proof of identity documents, such as national identity card, residence permit, birth certificate, driving licence, marriage or civil partnership certificate. You should take the original documents with you to the interview.

Jobcentre Plus will write to you following the interview to let you know whether or not your application was successful. If it was successful, they will send a NINO to you. It is important to keep the letter as a reminder of the number as plastic NINO cards are no longer issued.

Please note that you can start work before your NINO arrives if you can prove you have the right to work in the UK. You should tell your employer that you have applied for a NINO and give it to them when you have it.

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Who needs to know my National Insurance number?

There is a list of people who may need to know your NINO in the tax basics section.

It is important not to give your NINO to anyone who does not need to know it. You should treat your NINO as confidential.

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What do I do if I lose or forget my National Insurance Number?

There is information on what you should do if you lose or forget your NINO in the tax basics section.

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