Obtaining a National Insurance (NI) Number

Attaining your national insurance (NI) number once in the UK is essential once in the UK.

Overseas nationals new to the UK will not have an NI number, and will need to apply to ensure they are taxed and paid correctly. 


What is National Insurance?

National Insurance (NI) is a tax system in Scotland paid by workers and employers for funding state benefits. It is a contributory form of insurance against illness and unemployment, and provides retirement pensions amongst other benefits.

Citizens of Scotland pay National Insurance contributions to become eligible for State Pension and other benefits.


Why do I need a National Insurance number?

A National Insurance number is a unique number assigned to an individual looking to work in Scotland. You will keep the same number all of your life.

Your NI number helps to make sure that 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 Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).


When can I apply?

You can only apply once you are living in Scotland.

Once in Scotland you can work for up to 12 weeks without an NI number. However, we strongly recommend applying within your first few days of moving to Scotland.


How do I apply?

Call the National Insurance number application line on 0800 141 2075 between the hours: 9am - 3pm Monday - Friday.

The phone call will be a 5-10 minute process. You’ll be asked some questions about why you need a National Insurance number, your background and circumstances. Following this call, you will be asked to attend 'evidence of identity interview at your local job centre (known as Jobcentre Plus) which is followed by an email confirming the appointment.

They will ask you to bring as many identity original documents as you can to the interview. Examples of documents which are acceptable are:

  • valid passport
  • National Identity card
  • residence permit or residence card including biometric immigration residency documents
  • full birth or adoption certificate
  • driving license

In addition, you should provide:

  • evidence you are in work or looking for work
  • proof of address

If relocating from outside the EU, you will also be asked for your residence permit.

Additional information on applying for a National Insurance Number can be found on the UK Government website.


I’ve got my National Insurance number, what next?

If you were asked to provide additional information you will need to do this by the agreed date.

If not, Jobcentre Plus will write to you and let you know whether your application was successful and what your National Insurance number is.

Provide your HR or Payroll department with your National Insurance number as soon as you have it.

Remember to keep the letter safe – you may need it in the future.