Getting a National Insurance Number

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Getting a National Insurance Number

Getting a National Insurance number is, along with getting a bank account, probably one of the most frustrating experiences of all time. If you're only going to be in the UK for a short period, like under a year, I wouldn't even bother getting it. I got mine after working in the UK for over a year and I'm pretty sure I wasn't taxed at a higher rate while I was numberless.

But if you've got the time, a lot of patience and plan on working in the UK for awhile, you should get your NI Number. Your first port o' call should be Inland Revenue. You should be able to locate your local office and get their phone number.

This is where the nightmare begins... once you get a contact number for your local Inland Revenue office you'll have to try to get ahold of a person. This never happens and you're meant to leave a message for an employee to call you back, usually on the same day or next. When they call, they'll ask you for some details including your home address and where you're from. At this point they'll set up an appointment to meet face-to-face and send out a letter advising what you'll need to bring to the meeting.

The basic rule is - bring every type of ID you can get your filthy little hands on!

I'd lived in London for a year and a half before going to this meeting and even I was anxious about whether I'd have enough information for them. The basic rule is - bring every type of ID you can get your filthy little hands on! This might include a letter from your employer, proof of address or a letter from your landlord, your passport (if you have more than one you'll need both), bills with your name on them, and your first born child.

I waited about an hour past my scheduled interview time, so don't expect to be able to get in an out quickley. You'll probably have to take at least a half day off of work which is frustrating in itself. At the interview, you basically sit in a room while an official looks at your documents and fills in an application form for you. They then take bulk copies, send it all away, and 4-6 weeks later you'll be sent a National Insurance card in the post.

In the meantime they'll give you a letter stating that you've applied and are waiting for your number to be issued. So if your employers are hassling you about getting your NI number, this will appease them until it arrives.