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How to Find Lost National Insurance Number?

Author: Vidit Agarwal
by Vidit Agarwal
Posted: Sep 21, 2017


National Insurance (NI) predominantly is a system in United Kingdom introduced by the government for the workers and employers to fund State welfares. Its inception majorly encircled the purpose of supporting the State against illness and unemployment which later on also extended to provide retirement pensions and other benefits for the National Insurance contributors.

National Insurance number is a unique number issued to every individual for a lifetime. This number ensures that the National Insurance contributions and taxes paid by the individual are properly recorded against their name or the account used for the payment.


There are several reasons as to why should an individual have a National Insurance number. The first and foremost reason is once an individual starts paying his/her National Insurance, this number helps to keep a track of their contributions and protect their national insurance record.

Every individual has a different National Insurance number which as a mandate has to have both letters and numbers. For eg. DD 11 45 24 C

(Please note that the above mentioned National Insurance number is only a dummy and cannot be used as a personal number or for any other purpose.)

The National Insurance number issued to an individual is for a lifetime and never changes under any circumstances whether the individual gets married, changes their name, registers as a civil partner or any other reason.


Any individual who is a worker, an employer or aged 16 and above, earning more than a certain slab per week/month/annum set by the government is eligible to pay the National Insurance for which he/she has to have a National Insurance number.

Although the amount and type of National Insurance one has to pay is determined by the payment that individuals earn and the Class he/she belongs to, but if one wants a hassle free work experience, National Insurance number is a must.

The National Insurance number can also be considered as the identity of an individual when it comes to addressing the social security system or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Even the employer of an individual will require the employees National Insurance number to grant any monetary facility.

If one needs to communicate to the Department for Work and Pensions including Job Centre Plus or claim State Benefits like Pension or Disability and Careers Services, National Insurance number is a must. As this is the number that will track your National Insurance contribution record and finalize your eligibility to derive these privileges.

Individuals who want to claim Housing Benefits or apply for Student Loan also will require to produce their National Insurance number to the Local Council and Student Loans Company respectively.

Therefore, it is advisable to be an active National Insurance contributor to reap several benefits of the contribution and also avoid unwanted circumstances or sudden heavy tax.

But one should remember that the National Insurance number is very important and should be kept safe and not given to anyone who does not need it. This will help prevent any kind of identity fraud.


Being a National Insurance contributor entitles individuals to attain several benefits from the State. It not only secures ones post retirement life but also takes care of several other factors.

Pension Benefits

Post retirement period is a very difficult situation because when an individual is working and earning, their personal as well as family expenses are taken care of without any hassle. Whatever ups and downs life goes through, one is at a peace of mind knowing that he/she has a fixed source of income and can take care of any sudden situation without having to worry much. But post retirement this isn’t the case, as there is no longer a fixed source of income to ascertain a regular monetary stability. In this case, a Pension plan is nothing less than a boon. National Insurance policy helps individuals to overcome such situations by paying Pensions to them that is being maintained from the National Insurance contributions they have made throughout their work tenure. The Pension benefits that a National Insurance contributor enjoys are:

  • Basic State Pension
  • Additional State Pension
  • New State Pension

Contribution Allowances

Life is unpredictable. Days and time keep changing. There are many scenarios when recessions, health issues or other reasons have left people jobless for months or even years. Individuals, who during their work tenure have made National Insurance contributions will be entitled to claim "Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance" or "Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance" based on their requirement to keep their life going.

Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is an allowance one gets in case he/she is jobless. So while one is actively looking for a job he/she still will be earning some amount to support the basic needs of their life.

Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance is an allowance one gets in case an individual unable to work due to their health conditions like some illness or disability.

Maternity Allowance

Maternity is the most beautiful phase in a women’s life. But this beautiful phase also brings in a lot of responsibility. During the Maternity period, it is evident that the mother has to take a sabbatical for a particular period of time. But then maternity period just brings up the expenses of life. So, one needs a monetary support. National Insurance contributors are entitled to Maternity Allowance. Which means one can cherish her motherhood without having to worry much about the monetary factors.

Widowed Parent’s Allowance

Parents always have high hopes for their children and in such scenario a sudden loss of one of the parent cannot be consoled in any way, especially when it costs the future of one’s child. Dreams shatter, plans are ruined and the future of the child is at stake. While nothing compensates for such a loss but a little support is no harm. Every National Insurance contributor is entitled to get a "Widowed Parent’s Allowance" to help one get over this blow of life smoothly without having to let all their hopes fall flat especially regarding their child’s future.

Bereavement Benefits

In the walk of life it’s hard to lose the better half of one’s life. Especially when one leaves behind memories, future aspirations and most importantly loneliness. No compensation can fill the void but at least can help one come out of several unwanted and unexpected situations. National Insurance contributors therefore, are at least secure to not fall prey to a sudden downfall as they are eligible for:

  • Bereavement Payment
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Bereavement Support Payment

Although these benefits differ for different Classes, based on the income slabs they are entitled to.


There are five categories of Classes under which an individual belongs to and pays the National insurance accordingly. Based on the earnings, employment status and if there are any gaps in his/her national insurance record, every individual is identified under one of these classes. The classes are as following:

Class 1

In this case, employees whose earning exceeds a certain set slab under the State Pension age, a deduction is automatically made by their employer.

Class 1A or 1B

For National Insurance number holders under this class, their employers make these deductions directly based on their employee’s expenses or benefits. This means, the employee has no direct payment responsibility under this circumstance.

Class 2

Apart from employees, people who are self-employed also need to pay their National Insurance. But this depends on the income of the individual per annum. If an individual’s income is lesser than the slab set by the government, then he/she is not entailed to make any National Insurance contribution. Although if, the individual chooses to pay a voluntary contribution that will be at his/her sole discretion.

Class 3

People who are categorized under Class 3 whether employees or employers, are voluntary contributors, who may choose to pay National Insurance either for State welfare as well as to fill or avoid gaps in their National Insurance record.

Class 4

This class determines people who are self-employed or the high-class business owners, having a regular profit margin in their business. This class is entailed to pay their National Insurance based on the profit they make over a year.


National Insurance and Income Tax are two different things. National Insurance is more like an investment you make for your own future benefits whereas income tax is an amount that you pay to the government for the benefits you enjoy during your stay in the state or as a citizen. Though both the two factors depend on the income and employment status of the individual. Income tax is majorly based on the taxable income of an individual over a certain amount. Therefore, every individual has to pay both National Insurance as well as Income Tax. Although in case of Income Tax, there are several factors that helps get some allowances and reliefs or concessions that are available as per the government rules, which helps lower the income tax bill of an individual.


Now talking about rebates, for permanent residents rebate is surely not applicable. But for the ones who have come to the UK in search of better scope, opportunities and wages there is surely a way out. Individuals who don’t have a plan for a long stay and wish to go back to their natives instead of staying around to claim their National Insurance contributions once they reach their retirement age can opt to 'contract out' their contributions. In the normal process the UK will refund nothing to the one going back to their native, however active they have been as a National Insurance contributor. But with the option to contract out, one can put his/her contributions in an approved private pension that they can transfer back home. Although this option doesn’t let one get the full amount back but nevertheless it is a hefty amount that one gets to take along. But this procedure is completely dependent on the employer of the individual. As the employer has to run a contracted out pension scheme or else this option is futile.


1. When and how can one apply for a National Insurance number?

When an individual starts to work, it is advisable for him/her to apply for a National Insurance number if they do not have one already. It doesn’t matter if he/she does not have a plastic National Insurance number card if the individual has the right to work in the UK. All that one needs to do is connect with the Jobsentre Plus over telephone and request them to arrange to help him/her get the card or visit their nearest office using the "local office search" for the same.

This process in the Jobcentre Plus might need the individual to undergo an interview, the 'Evidence of Identity'.

2. What happens when one applies for a National Insurance number?

When an individual applies for a National Insurance number, Jobcentre Plus conducts an "Evidence of Identity" interview that the applicant needs to attend. Jobcentre Plus informs about the interview to the candidate via postal application. In the process, they confirm the date, time and location of the applicant’s interview and what information/documentation he/she will need to support the application.

3. What to expect at the 'Evidence of Identity' interview?

The 'Evidence of Identity' interview is generally a face to face interview on an individual basis unless someone needs an interpreter. The applicant is enquired and interviewed about the reason behind his/her requirement of a National Insurance number. The applicant will also be questioned about their background and circumstances. The applicant needs to prove his/her identity. The more the merrier! Therefore the applicant needs to carry as many 'identity documents (originals only) for the interview. The documents that count are:

  • Valid Passport (the UK or foreign)
  • National Identity Card (the UK or foreign)
  • Residence Permit or Residence Card including Biometric Immigration Residency Documents
  • Full Birth or Adoption Certificate
  • Full Marriage or Civil Partnership Certificate (in case the applicant is married)
  • Driving License (the UK or foreign)

If by any chance the applicant doesn't have any of these - or other - identity documents he/she still must appear for the interview, as the information or evidence he/she produces in lieu of the above mentioned documents may be enough to prove ones identity.

Post this interview, a National Insurance number application form will be filled and the applicant will be asked to sign and submit it.

4. What happens after the 'Evidence of Identity' interview?

After the 'Evidence of Identity' interview, if the interviewer seeks a few more documents for any further additional information, the applicant will have to produce the same by the deadline given by Jobcentre Plus. The candidate will be informed in written about the success of his/her application and what the National Insurance number is.

Applicant should share the National Insurance number with the relevant people on an immediate basis. But he/she must be very careful while sharing the National Insurance number. It should be only shared with his/her employer and other authorized bodies and not with anyone who does not need it to help avoid fraud and the stealing of identity.

The letter having the National Insurance number should be kept very safely. As this letter at any point of time if one forgets the number can be a very good reminder. Although the letter at its individual level cannot serve as a proof to an individual’s identity as one does not need the letter but the number to apply for a job or before starting to work. Because it's the National Insurance number itself that's important not the letter.

5. How long does it take to get a National Insurance number?

After all the interviews are over, the application is processed by Jobcentre Plus. They via post send the applicant a date and location for the identity interview. This usually takes around 2 weeks from the day when the application is processed, post the identity interview. It is estimated that the entire process will take another 4 to 6 weeks to generate the individual’s National Insurance number after which this number will be sent to the applicant through post and will be ready for use.

6. If one loses or can't remember his/her National Insurance number or has lost their National Insurance number card?

In case, an individual has lost his/her National Insurance card or can't remember their number or can't find his/her number, he/she must enquire at their nearest Social Security Office or HMRC (National Insurance Contributions) office to get further guidance. The most common procedures suggested are:

  • There is a CA5403 form available. Individuals need to complete this form and return it to the address on the form to get their National Insurance number.
  • The other way could be to contact the National Insurance Registrations Helpline over a telephone. Although HMRC will not confirm their National Insurance number over telephone but instead will send it to the individual as a written statement.

The other ways to recover one’s National Insurance number are:

  • Every individual has their P60 document like their end of year tax statement, pensions and benefits that one receives from his/her employer. These documents always have the National Insurance number.
  • Individuals also receive Payslip from their employer as a salary proof that has The National Insurance number in them as it is a mandate to have this number in all the documents that are related to one’s account used to make National Insurance contributions.
  • A copy of the annual Self-Assessment tax return of every individual also carries this number as it helps track the National Insurance contribution record.
  • In fact, any and every official correspondence of an individual that is directly or indirectly related to his/her National Insurance contribution will carry their National Insurance number.

7. Can one change his/her National Insurance number?

A National Insurance number comes with a lifetime validity. Therefore, no matter if one settle in abroad, gets married or changes his/her name, the National Insurance number stays the same.

Well to sum it up in a nutshell, to work in the UK legally, one definitely needs to have a National Insurance number. Because not only the National Insurance number helps one avoid hefty emergency tax but also helps one get employed and enjoy several State benefits.

Undoubtedly, it is a little time consuming process and can take around six weeks to get a National Insurance number but fortunately one can get it sorted out relatively stress and fuss free. And for sure it is worth the wait.

Though there’s a lot more detailed information in the UK govt. website for National Insurance number but this document can be treated as a preliminary guide to help individuals interested to know about the National Insurance number, the UK.
About the Author

I am Marketing Director of Dns Accountants comes with a great experience and expertise in IT and Marketing related activities.

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Author: Vidit Agarwal

Vidit Agarwal

Member since: Sep 17, 2017
Published articles: 2

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