Your National Insurance number
Your National Insurance number is your own personal account number. It is unique to you and you keep the same one all your life. It makes sure the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded against your name. It also acts as a reference number when communicating with the Department for Communities and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Everyone working in the U.K. needs to hold an NI number. It acts like a tax number and is provided to employers when you start a new job. If you’re an international or EEA student you can apply for one once you are living here.
The process is straightforward, first you have to book an appointment with your local JobCentre Plus (Telephone: 0800 141 2075) and await an interview. If you qualify, it can take up to a month to receive your NI, which will arrive by post. If you’re lucky, they won’t ask for an interview and can be completed exclusively through the post.
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
You can find more information on the official government website.
Things to keep in mind
You can start working without a national insurance number in the U.K., but you should apply for a national insurance number once you found a long-term stay in London as your national insurance number will be sent to your address.
Certain services in the U.K., e.g. investing in stock, aren't accessible to you if you don't have a national insurance number.