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I will be turning 16 soon, I am a British citizen but I have never lived there. I want to be able to receive a National Insurance Number to work in the UK when I am older. Most people in the UK are assigned their NI numbers automatically when they turn 16. Is there anyway for expats to apply for a NI number?

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According to http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ni/intro/number.htm

If you live in the UK you'll normally receive one automatically at age 16.

Since you do not live in the UK at the moment, you should not receive it, and more important you do not need it at the moment.

When you will relocate to the UK, you can apply for a NI http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/migrantworkers/index.htm

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National Insurance Helpline for Non-UK Residents

As a first step, you should probably call the National Insurance helpline for non-UK residents at +44 (0)191 203 7010 and ask for advice.

If you have trouble getting through to that number, you should try leaving out the 0 that's in brackets: so you'd phone +44 191 203 7010 instead.

Alternative Guidance - once you are in the UK

The Birmingham University's Worklink guidance document has some useful information for people in the UK that were out of the UK at the time they turned 16. See the section titled "I’m a UK Student, but I was living overseas on my 16th birthday, so I have never received an NI Number".

That section tells you to follow the instructions in a later section, which is confusingly titled: "How to Apply for an NI Number – EEA Students and Dependants".

Please note that one of the pieces of information the may request is your date of entry into the UK. Since you're overseas and don't have a definite return date, you won't have this. However I'm sure the Jobcentre staff will be very familiar with what to do, and will be able to give you advice.

Guidance

Here's the relevant section of the University of Birmingham document referred to above:

Call the Jobcentre plus National Insurance Number Allocation Office on 08456 000643 to start the application process for an NI number.

You will be asked for the following information: (you must have this with you when you call)

  • full name & address including postcode
  • contact telephone number
  • date of entry into the UK
  • details from your passport or European Identity Card

Alternatively, you might call 0300 200 3502, as per https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number

Calling these numbers from Overseas

You may have trouble calling the 0845 and 0300 numbers from overseas, since they are special non-geographic UK numbers.

Unfortunately I've been unable to locate an international-format number specifically for the National Insurance Number Allocation office. The National Insurance helpline for non-UK residents listed at the top of this answer may be able to put you through to the right department, or give you a valid international-format number to call.

If you have trouble connecting, you may be able to dial these numbers by dropping the leading zero. This would mean calling +44 8456 000643, for example. Alternatively you may be able to get through by using a Skype account, selecting the number you are calling as being in the UK, and then entering the full 08456 000643 number.

Please note that these 0845 and 0300 numbers may also be exceptionally expensive to phone from overseas - even more expensive than a normal international call.

  • Yes, it's a pain calling these from (for example) the states - I find Google Voice is great at calling these numbers - currently 18c/minute for 0845. 0300 numbers are 1c/minute with Google Voice. – Nostradamus Oct 29 '16 at 3:41
  • "so you'd phone +44 191 203 7010 instead" If you dial the country code you never dial the zero in brackets. The zero in brackets is to imply that if you are in the UK and not dialling the +44 you need to dial 0191 203 7010. – Martin Bonner Jul 1 at 8:08

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