National Insurance Number (NI)

Students studying in the UK may need to take a National Insurance Number (NI).

Unlike in the US where you may need a Social Security Number (SSN) for credit cards, bank accounts, driving license etc, an NI is not needed for the said purposes in UK.

An NI number is a personal number that should only be given to one person and must only be used by that person to:

  • Record a person's NI contributions and credited contributions

  • As a reference number for the whole social security system.

    As an international student, you can apply for a NI number when:

  • You are starting work
  • You are looking for work

    Your college/university is not involved with NI's at all and you do not need to ask anyone for permission to get it.

    It is likely that your employer or prospective employer will ask for your NI. You can still get employment without NI but your employer will need its production, normally within 13 weeks of employment.

    If your employer needs the NI, it is normal for her to issue you with a letter indicating you are in her employment.

    You will need to produce this letter when you seek the NI.

    You should apply for the NI through your local Jobcentre Plus office, Jobcentre or social security office.

    These offices issue the number on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

    Call the jobcentre in advance and indicate you want to apply for NI. The officer will give you the date and time of appointment as well as inform you all the documents you need to take.

    You will need to produce a letter from your employer, or evidence that you are actively looking for a job. Such evidence can include letters inviting you for a job interview or regrets.

    You will also need to produce proof of identity such as a passport or UK driving license, birth certificate, marriage certificate etc and proof of address such as utility bills and bank statements. You may also need to take bankcards with you if you have any.

    Be punctual for your NI appointment. If you fail to turn up on time, you will be given another date to attend - usually several weeks later! If you are granted the NI, it will be posted to you a number of weeks later.



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