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Applying for National Insurance number

If you do not already have a National Insurance number you will normally need to apply for one if you are planning to work in the UK, claim benefits, apply for a student loan or pay Class 3 voluntary National Insurance contributions. It can take up to 4 weeks for a National Insurance number to be issued after you have proved your identity.

HMRC’s guidance states that you can apply for a National Insurance number if you:

  • live in the UK;
  • have the right to work in the UK; and
  • are working, looking for work or have an offer to start work.

However, you can start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you can work in the UK. You can also apply for benefits or a student loan without a National Insurance number. If a National Insurance number is required, you will be notified at the time.

Most teenagers in the UK are automatically sent a letter just before their 16th birthday detailing their National Insurance number. These letters should be kept in a safe place. It should be noted that a National Insurance number remains the same for life, even if your personal details change.

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