Travelling from overseas and want to work? - Avoid emergency tax and get a NIN (or NINO) quickly.
Many employers in the UK will say you need a NI Number to work – this is not true. You do not need one to start working immediately but you will want to get one ASAP to avoid onerous “emergency tax” and you will eventually need one anyway.
The challenge however is actually getting one!
Unfortunately the application process in applying for a National Insurance Number can take weeks if not months and involve frustrating phone calls, an EOI (Evidence of Identity) interview and long wait times and thats assuming everything goes well.
For people coming from overseas, it can be extra challenging because one of the key parts of the process of getting a number is proving who you are who you say you are.
This can easily be solved by having an address and bills in your name. But wait, you just arrived from overseas!
To make matters worse, many people change addresses soon after arriving, so even after having an NI Number issued – it gets lost in the post.
I know this sounds unbelievable – almost ridiculous, but if you read just a few of the recent 100 comments below – this happens all day every day in the UK.
Fortunately there are services in the UK that make life a lot easier. In many cases, you can avoid the EOI interview all together. In all cases, a lot of frustration and stress is removed from the process.
Alternately, if you decide to DIY, at least you will know what to expect.
So, how do you get one and avoid a lot of the frustration and red tape?
An NI number is similar to your Tax File Number in Australia, IRD in New Zealand or 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, the first thing your employer will ask you for is your NIN or NINO.
Usually then you ask, “What is a national insurance number?” quickly followed by, “How do you get a NI number?”
Here is the low down: If you don’t have one, your employer has no way of advising the British Tax Department (HM Revenue and Customs) the amounts you need to NI contributions for state pension and the British social security system.
Not having one will mean you have to pay emergency national insurance contributions, until you get one. This amount equates to a big percentage of your take home pay!
Unfortunately the process of obtaining an NI number normally takes 2 – 6 weeks (sometimes months – just look at the comments below) from the time you schedule a meeting. The time it takes to get one depends on availability of interview times for your local Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) office and then there is also the time it takes to get your NI number processed. In the meantime, you will be issued with a temporary national insurance number, but this is just to keep track of the extra contributions you will be making until you get your NI card in the mail and advise your employer.
Fortunately there are some paid services that Work and Travel Companies provide that help to avoid a lot of frustration and can ensure maximum speed in the process. For example, if you are non-European you can avoid having to attend the DWP interview. This is due to all the requirements you have to already met to get your visa and is a great way to get a national insurance number online.
This itself is well worth the small fee, but where they really come into their own even if you have to attend an interview is in making sure things run smoothly. For example, there are many instances where processing is delayed when one of the requirements of your EOI interview are not met. Initially they assist in filling out the NIN application form. In many cases something as simple as a change of your address (or not having an address) creates bureaucratic confusion which delays getting your number issued. Many problems have been avoided with the help of a service.
You can also do it yourself (DIY) and we provide the methods to do it. However I also want you to know that we get emails daily and many comments of people having issues – here are some from below:
“4 weeks have passed already and I don’t have an interview scheduled and I still haven’t received any forms to fill in” Paolo
“I applied for a NI number and went to an interview, but after (2-4 weeks like the interviewer said) they sent me a letter saying that they declined it.” Hristo
“I filled out the paper Form CA5403, passed in the office HM REVENUE, (and was) told to wait up to 6 weeks. I waited 2 months but nothing … ” Stan
This service is highly recommended and is used by many expats and working holiday makers because you can avoid a lot of hassle when you applying for a NI Number (often called NINO).
NOTE: If you are British (and in the UK when your were 16 years of age) you will have been sent your NI Number by mail. If you are were not in Britain not in Britain of have misplaced your NI Number there are other ways to get assistance – please see our British section.
NI Number Application for non-British citizens
Different options apply based on your Nationality
Non-European Economic Area Citizens (Any country outside of Europe)
All European Citizens