This blog addresses whether a person can claim benefits without a National Insurance Number. It will explain what to do, in case you do not have a National insurance (NI) number, how to claim it and clarify some key queries. 

Can you claim benefits without a National Insurance Number ? 

No, you cannot claim benefits without a National Insurance Number. (NINO)

This number is vital to receive any benefits and to establish the eligibility for various other benefits as well, considering that contribution to National Insurance and credits to the National Insurance account determine the entitlements to a number of benefits. 

This is applicable even if the claimant has never worked or has been unemployed through their life due to any illnesses or inability to work. 

Meaning and Significance of the National Insurance (NI) number 

The National Insurance Number is now mandatory as per the Department of Work and Pension Guidelines to even apply for or claim entitlements from the United Kingdom government social security and welfare programs and schemes

It should be viewed as a mandatory entry point to even be considered for obtaining schemes. Without this, your eligibility will not even be examined. 

Whether you are employed, or you haven’t worked yet or you work part-time or are self-employed there are different requirements for the National Insurance itself, but the number remains the key to even qualifying for an examination of your eligibility. 

Whether you have National Insurance contributions or have an account that has been filed with credits, or you have made voluntary contributions you need to have a National Insurance number to even access the benefits that such contributions entitle you to. 

Even if you have never made National Insurance contributions or have not received any credits, you are entitled to some benefits. But you can’t access them without a number. So the NI number is the basic requirement before claiming any benefits.

It functions like a social security identification number that is unique to the claimant, since each person’s benefits are tailored to their own contributions, employment history, health requirements, marital status, residential particulars etc. 

The government of the United Kingdom attests that  a National Insurance number is necessary for anyone who is working, who wants to work or is looking for work. It is also essential for those making Class voluntary contributions to National Insurance. 

Class 3 voluntary contributions are payments made by people towards National insurance to make up for any gaps in payment or years that have accumulated because of unemployment, low wages, lack of benefit claims etc. 

This could have diminished the amount or range of benefits they could have received. This top-up in the form of voluntary contributions helps to bring the insurance amount to the requisite level, so that all benefits can be accessed. 

The Exception to the need for a NI number to access Benefits 

The National Insurance Number is not needed in the case of access to the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS). The EUSS is the application process to gain residence rights in the United Kingdom.

Technically it does not qualify as a benefit, but residence in the U.K. will certainly enable the concerned individuals to claim more benefits and entitlements. 

In addition, if a person is below 19 years of age, you are a student applying for a student loan, or if you possess a biometric residence permit that has the NI number printed on its back, you don’t need to apply for a fresh National Insurance number. 

Similarly, if a person’s National Insurance number is lost, they need not replace it with a new one. They can merely follow the guidelines on the respective government page to recover/retrieve the original number. Please refer- Find a lost National Insurance number – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

How to apply for a National Insurance Number ? 

The Department of Work and Pensions is responsible for the application process for a National Insurance number. At present, due to the pandemic, the in-person interview could not be conducted and so the application process was temporarily stalled. 

The interviews are resuming for some groups, but to be sure and check your verification procedure e.g. if you are from outside the U.K. and do not have settled/pre-settled status, you can refer to the government’s webpage on this matter – Apply for a National Insurance number – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

There are two ways in which a person can receive a National Insurance number automatically. 

Three months before a person turns 16, they are allotted a NI number if they reside in the U.K. and also if their parent had claimed Child Benefit in his/her/their name when they were under 16 years of age. 

If a person aged between 16 and 19 years, still has not received their National Insurance number despite these conditions being met, then the complaint can be addressed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service (HMRC), which is the tax authority of the nation. 

The Need for an NI number to access Universal Credits benefits 

Many benefits have now come under the purview of Universal Credit, particularly the means-tested benefits e.g. income based Job-seeker’s Allowance, income based Employment Support and Allowance, amongst others. 

The Department of Work and Pension has emphasized that all claims for Universal Credit should be made using the National Insurance number. 

If the person claiming Universal Credit does not have a National Insurance number then they should apply for it as soon as possible. 

The Department has made it easier for those claiming Universal Credit without an NI number, by combining the two processes. 

If you apply for Universal Credit and don’t have an NI number, the UC claim can also double as an application for a National Insurance number. 

Once the eligibility for Universal Credit is verified, the department will fast-track the application for the National Insurance number as well, so that the claimant can receive both. 

The beneficiary should file the claim and during the claims process, the NI number will concomitantly be assigned. 

This blog addresses whether  a person can claim benefits without a National Insurance Number. It will explain what to do, in case you do not have a National insurance (NI) number, how to claim it , and what it is essential for in terms of social security. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)- Can you claim benefits without a National Insurance Number ? 

Where can I find my National Insurance number ? 

Perhaps you have already been allotted a National Insurance number through one of a few automatic avenues such as by being the child of a Child Benefit recipient and by living in the United Kingdom.

It is possible that you received it but didn’t feel the need to find out about it until you began to claim benefits. 

In such cases you can easily find your National Insurance number from the following sources : 

  • Payslips issued by your employer
  • P60 , which is an official statement of tax returns at the end of a financial year. This is crucial proof that tax returns have been filed. You can also find it in your personal tax account. 
  • Any communication from the HMRC, Department of Work and Pension or other state welfare departments giving benefits. 

The same sources can be tapped if you have lost your National Insurance number. If none of these sources are available, then you may  call the National Insurance helpline which will ask a series of questions to see if you are the legitimate claimant. 

They will then send the number through post within fifteen days, but will not communicate it through the telephone. If you are unable to answer these questions, you will have to fill out a CA5403 form. 

Keep in mind that if you permanently lose your NI number, you will not be issued a new one. You will have to find some way or some source through which you can retrieve the same. 

Can I start working without a National Insurance number ? 

Yes, you can start working in the United Kingdom even without a National Insurance number as long as you prove that you have a right to work in the country. 

Proving your right to work also means furnishing information to your employer and by consequence to the government about what types of jobs you are permitted to do and the time period you are allowed to work in the country for. 

Misinformation spread by employers that give the lack of an NI number for not giving people jobs needs to be cleared up. As long as you prove the right to work you can be employed and paid. 

However, you must apply for a National Insurance number as soon as you can.Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service (HMRC), only asks for the NIN if it is available. If it is not available, the employer will deduct your tax and adjust the payroll accordingly. 

But if you do have the NI number, the employer will send it to the HMRC along with payroll submissions and the HMRC will make the necessary adjustments between tax and National Insurance contributions. 

Do I still need an NI number to claim benefits if I don’t make any National Insurance contributions ? 

Yes, to access any benefits, the possession of a National Insurance number is of prime significance. Without it you cannot participate in any welfare schemes. 

This is the case even if you do not contribute to your National Insurance account. 

Even if you have no or very little credit, you make no or negligible contributions etc. you are still eligible for a range of benefits that do not depend on your National Insurance account balance or amount. But you cannot access these without an NI number. 

Some benefits need a certain amount of National Insurance contributions. These include: 

  • Both Basic and New State Pension 
  • Contribution based Job-seekers Allowance and Employment Support and Allowance
  • Other allowances such as Maternity and Bereavement Allowances

But there are other benefits you can receive without National Insurance contribution, credits or voluntary contributions. These include : 

  • Universal Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance 
  • Child Benefit 
  • Carer’s Allowance 
  • Industrial Injuries Payment 
  • Guardian’s Allowance 

Keep in mind that even to access the benefits that do not require a National Insurance account balance or contributions their National Insurance number is still required. 

Do I need a National Insurance Number if I am self-employed ? 

Self-employment cannot just be claimed, it needs to be proved to the HMRC. So for this purpose, any self employed person needs to take a Self-Assessment registration which allows the HMRC to evaluate whether you are really self-employed. 

You also need to fill out a form , called the CWF1, to register for National Insurance contributions. This form is essential to claim self-employment and the right to self-assessment if you earn a certain amount every year. 

But it cannot be filed without the NI number. So you will have to fill in the SA1 form, to get a NI number post which you can file for self-assessment and the recognition of your work status as self-employed. 

This however, is only an interim measure during the pandemic for those who do not have NI number. This SA1 form is usually utilized by people who request self-assessment but are not self-employed. 

So ensure that you follow any new development and regulations in this regard. 

For more information in this regard, kindly read – Coronavirus: problems getting a National Insurance number | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (litrg.org.uk) and also How do I register for self-employment if I am not able to get a National Insurance number due to COVID-19? (churchill-knight.co.uk)

Can I have a bank account without a National Insurance Number ? 

An NI number is not essential or a prerequisite, to open a bank account or to maintain one. What most banks ask for includes two or three of the following documents to be produced : 

  • Proof of Address in the U.K. 
  • Proof of right to work or reside in the U.K. 
  • Passport 
  • Utility bills 
  • National Insurance number 

There are a few more options; any two or three of them can make a reasonable case for opening a bank account. 

However, in the U.K. it is quite tough to abide by these requirements considering that many people share accommodation, they don’t have driving licenses yet, they may not have any of the above requirements, or only one or two. 

So applying for a National Insurance number makes the process that much easier for you, because the receipt of this number illustrates to the government  your serious intent to reside and work in the U.K. for an extended period of time. 

If you receive your NIN number, it gives you credibility and it can be used as proof of address, thus making the process of opening a bank account that much easier. 

For more information on the banking system and its requirements and relation to the NI number please read – How to Open a UK Bank Account: Everything You Need to Know! / The Inbounder / BritBound

References

  1. Coronavirus: problems getting a National Insurance number | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group. (n.d.). Www.litrg.org.uk. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.litrg.org.uk/tax-guides/coronavirus-guidance/coronavirus-problems-getting-national-insurance-number
  2. What is National Insurance? | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group. (n.d.). Www.litrg.org.uk. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.litrg.org.uk/tax-guides/tax-basics/what-national-insurance
  3. Apply for a National Insurance number. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
  4. Government Digital Service. (2018, June 21). Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families
  5. Find a lost National Insurance number. (n.d.). GOV.UK. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.gov.uk/lost-national-insurance-number
  6. National Insurance numbers. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/national-insurance-numbers
  7. Prove your right to work to an employer. (n.d.). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-work
  8. Benefits Calculator – entitledto – independent | accurate | reliable | www.entitledto.co.uk. (n.d.). Www.entitledto.co.uk. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.entitledto.co.uk/help/Making-an-online-claim-Universal-Credit
  9. If a problem with National Insurance is affecting your benefits. (n.d.). Www.citizensadvice.org.uk. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/benefits-introduction/problems-with-benefits-and-tax-credits/if-a-problem-with-national-insurance-is-affecting-your-benefits/
  10. Claiming Universal Credit without a national insurance number «Blog «Revenue Benefits. (n.d.). Revenuebenefits.org.uk. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://revenuebenefits.org.uk/blog/claiming-universal-credit-without-a-national-insurance-number
  11. National Insurance Contributions (NIC) – Turn2us. (2020). Turn2us.org.uk. https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/National-insurance-contributions-(NIC)/What-benefits-do-my-national-insurance-contributio
  12. Denison, C. (2020, November 12). How do I register for self-employment if I am not able to get a National Insurance number due to COVID-19? Churchill-Knight.co.uk. https://www.churchill-knight.co.uk/blog/2020/11/how-do-i-register-for-self-employment-if-i-am-not-able-to-get-a-national-insurance-number-due-to-covid-19/
  13. How to Open a UK Bank Account: Everything You Need to Know! / The Inbounder / BritBound. (n.d.). Britbound. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.britbound.com/the-inbounder/how-to-open-a-uk-bank-account-everything-you-need-to-know

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.