How do I get a National Insurance number?

Updated on 30 December 2020

Tax basics

If you want to work or claim benefits in the UK, you must have a National Insurance number (NINO). On this page we explain what a NINO is, where to get one and what to do if you lose or forget it.

Image of the acronym NINO next to a question mark
(c) Shutterstock / Sebestyen Balint

To obtain a NINO you must be 16 or over and resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

You can look for and start work without a NINO but you must then apply immediately.


How do I get a National Insurance number? by LITRG

What is a National Insurance number?

You usually get sent a National Insurance number (NINO) just before your 16th birthday. The government uses records for child benefit claims in order to identify children approaching their 16th birthday. If your parents or guardians have not claimed child benefit then you will have to apply for a National Insurance number as described below. Your parents may be required to attend an interview in this case. Alternatively, if you are a looked after child, your social worker should apply for a NINO for you three months before your 16th birthday.

Your NINO is unique to you throughout your life, but it is not a form of identity. You must never use someone else’s NINO. Every person has their own number and each member of your family aged 16 or over should have their own number.

A NINO is made up of 2 letters, 6 numbers and a final letter, for example QQ 12 34 56 A.

If you need a letter confirming your NINO, you can print a letter from your Personal Tax Account.

Where do I get a National Insurance number from?

You usually get sent a National Insurance number (NINO) just before your 16th birthday.

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

If you come to the UK from abroad to work, you will need to apply for one.

To apply for a NINO in England, Scotland or Wales, you should telephone the Jobcentre Plus NINO service.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can contact your nearest NINO processing centre. You can find out more on the NI direct website.

We provide more information on how to get a National Insurance number in our migrants section.

Who needs to know my National Insurance number?

The following people may need to know your National Insurance number (NINO):

  • HMRC
  • Employers and pension providers
  • DWP
  • Local council
  • The Student Loans Company
  • Banks and building societies.

Do not give your NINO to anyone who does not need to know it.

If you suspect that someone has stolen your NINO and is committing identity fraud or theft, you should contact HMRC and tell them what you think has happened.

The website also provides guidance on how to protect yourself from identity fraud.

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

If you lose or forget your National Insurance number (NINO), you may be able to find it on official documents – for example, payslips from a job, your tax return, or a PAYE coding notice.

It is also possible to ask HMRC to confirm it by:

Whichever method you use, HMRC will write to you and confirm the NINO. They will not provide the NINO over the telephone.

If you need a letter confirming your NINO, you can print a letter from your Personal Tax Account. You can read about Personal Tax Accounts and how to get one in our tax basics section.

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