In the UK, if you are employed or looking for work, you must have a National Insurance (NI) number, or have at least applied for one. NI contributions help finance the National Health Service (NHS). By making contributions, you also build up your entitlement to certain social security benefits, including the State Pension.

If you don't already have a NI number you need apply for one:
  • as soon as you start work
  • as soon as you or your partner claims benefit
  • you need it to claim a student loan

Important to know: Anyone who works in the UK is required to have a National Insurance Number.

What is the threshold for NI payments?
In Tax Year 2019/20 you are required to pay NI if you are 16 or over and either:
  • An employee earning above £166 per week
  • Self-employed and making a profit of £6,365 or more per year

Important to know: If you earn above the £166 threshold you pay 12% of your earnings between £166 and £962 per week. You pay 2% tax on any taxable earnings above this.

How do I apply for a National Insurance (NI) number?
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 to ask for an application form.

National Insurance number application line (England, Scotland and Wales) -
Telephone: 0800 141 2075
Textphone: 0800 141 2438
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm
Find out more about applying and any call charges on at GOV.UK Applying for National Insurance Number

Important to know:
  • You’ll need to return the form along with proof of your identity and your right to work or study in the UK.
  • The letter that comes with your application form will tell you which documents you can use as proof.
  • Beware of companies which offer information or support in gaining an NI number, they often charge very high rates for providing information which can be obtained for free. A good resource for further information can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) webpages.
After you’ve submitted your application, you will receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) you will be asked to come for a NI interview at a JobCentre Plus. The letter will also tell you which documents to bring with you for the interview.

You are allowed to work while you are waiting for your NI number to be issued using a temporary NI number.

How can I find out more?
Our colleagues at Blackbullion have developed a comprehensive online learning module on Taxes which will broader your understanding in just 21mins!

If you have not yet signed up for Blackbullion’s free financial learning tools you can do so with your King’s email address.

You may also find these resources helpful:
Tax Guide for Students
7 basic tax facts every student needs to know
Claim a tax refund if you stop working during the year
Money Saving Expert – Tax Rates | Breakdown what the tax man gets

If you're still unsure and would like further guidance on this, feel free to contact the Student Money & Housing Advice team on our Adviceline or through the enquiry form.