How do I get a National Insurance number?
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.
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.
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 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 Department for Work and Pensions (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, although if you have a biometric residence permit, you might have been given a NINO already – check the back of the permit
To apply for a NINO in England, Scotland or Wales, you should apply online. You will have to prove your identity. Once you have applied and proved your identity, it can take several weeks for you to get your NINO. There is more information on how to apply and contact details for getting help with your application on GOV.UK.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can apply online. You will have to prove your identity. Once you have applied and proved your identity, it can take up to 16 weeks for you to get your NINO. There is more information on how to apply, which includes contact details for getting help with your application, on the nidirect 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):
- Employers and pension providers
- DWP (or Department for Communities in Northern Ireland)
- Government agencies administering student finance and student loan repayments
- Banks and building societies
- Other financial services providers such as NS&I or providers of Individual Savings Accounts and other financial products
The above is not an exhaustive list, but do take care not to give your NINO to anyone who does not need to know it. Scammers might try to get your NINO, as well as other personal information from you, so you should be aware of protecting yourself from fraud.
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.
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:
- completing form CA5403 ‘Your National Insurance Number’ and sending it to HMRC; or
- contacting the National Insurance numbers helpline if you are in England, Scotland or Wales, or the National Insurance Registration helpline if you are in Northern Ireland.
If you use the second or third methods above, HMRC will write to you and confirm the NINO. They will not provide the NINO over the telephone.