Help centre

# Apply for a National Insurance Number

Everyone who works in the UK needs to have a National Insurance (NI) number. It is a unique personal reference number for anything to do with tax or your employment in the UK. If you do not have an NI number, you must apply for one if you want to:

  • Work in the UK
  • Apply for a Student Loan
  • Claim benefits

Depending on how much money you earn, you may need to pay National Insurance contributions (which are automatically deducted from your wages).

You will not be charged for an NI number – it is completely free. Please do not use any website that charges a fee for this service.

Tip:

If you are an International or EEA student and want to work in the UK you will need to apply for an NI number once you are in the UK.

If you have a biometric residence permit (BRP), you might have a National Insurance number already - it will be printed on the back of your BRP if you do.

When you leave the UK it may be possible to reclaim some tax you have paid – please check the UKCISA website for more advice on how to do this.

# How to apply

To apply for a National Insurance number you must:

  • be in England, Scotland or Wales
  • have entered the UK on a visa
  • have the right to work in the UK

# Call the National Insurance number application line

Call the National Insurance number application line to ask for an application form:

Telephone: 0800 141 2075 Textphone: 0800 141 2438 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Tip:

Have your passport / visa with you when you ring, and a pen and paper to write down the reference number they give you.

# Arrange an interview if required

You may be asked to go to an interview for your NI Number. The purpose of the interview is to check your identity, your status as a student, and your legal right to work in the UK. You will be told what documents you need to bring with you to your appointment.

# Complete a postal application form

Complete a postal application form (which will be sent to you after you have rung the application line). This will include instructions on how to complete the form and tell you which documents you need to send with the application.

Tip:

Make sure you send off your form within the time frame stated in the letter.

# Receiving your National Insurance number

You will get a letter within a few weeks of your application, which will contain your NI number. Keep it safe but make sure it is easy to access. Your NI number is unique to you and will stay the same for your whole working life in the UK. (Even if you leave the UK and come back at any time to work, you will use the same number).

Tip:

You are allowed to start work before you receive your NI number, as long as you can show your employer proof that you have made an application.

# Get further advice

For up to date information and further advice, visit the Gov.UK page on how to apply or UKCISA for international student support.