A National Insurance Number (often called a NI, NIN or NINO) is similar to a Tax File Number in Australia, Codice Fiscale in Italy, Peszel/Knip in Poland, CNP in Romania, Securidad Sociale in Spain, IRD in New Zealand and SIN number in Canada.
In the UK the NI number is also used as a form of identification by many departments including the free NHS healthcare system.
Usually during your first week of work, your employer will ask for your NI Number.
If you don’t have one, your employer has no way of advising the U.K Tax Office, the amounts you need to NI contributions for state pension and the British social security system should be. You must pay emergency national insurance contributions (emergency tax) until you get one – typically a big percentage of your take home pay!
4-6 weeks is typical, sometimes months. First you need to schedule an EOI interview or a service will do this for you – if a service can arrange for you to avoid the interview this can save weeks. The wait times are dependent on how busy the office in your area is. After your interview you will still need to wait for your NI Number and card to arrive in the post. This process can take 2-6 weeks, or longer.
While using a service doesn’t mean the process is expedited, they can help you avoid the interview process in some cases. They can also ensure your documentation is sufficient and any address changes, etc. are handled correctly, thus reducing complications with your application and ensuring the maximum process speed.
No. You are legally entitled to your wages and it will not hinder your employment prospects if you understand the process and can explain it to them. Inform your employer that you are in the process of applying but assure them you are getting one – you will. They will have to pay an emergency tax contribution in the meantime, but this does not cost them anything extra – it comes out of your pay. Withholding wages is not legal and understanding the process can be helpful if your new employer is not familiar with hiring people who have just arrived from overseas.
Yes. Once you receive your NI Number you can enter a claim to receive the money deducted for emergency tax back – usually when you submit your tax return at the end of the financial year.
Normally, if you are working abroad (not residing in the UK) you should not need one (as you will be taxed in your country of residence). We do not specialize in offering information about taxation. We suggest contacting your employer or a personal accountant for further information.