What is a National Insurance number?

Everyone who wants to work in the UK must have a National Insurance number (NINo). You should be sent a National Insurance number automatically just before your 16th birthday if you live in the UK. If you don’t receive one you may have to apply for a National Insurance Number.

To obtain a NINo, you must be 16 or over and resident in the UK. Your NINo is unique to you throughout your life, but it is not a form of identity. It is made up of two letters, six numbers and a final letter, in the format 'AB 12 34 56 C'.

You can start work without a NINo, but you must then apply for one immediately. The law requires you to apply for a NINo if you do not already have one and you are working or are intending to work. Visit the GOV.UK website for full details of how to get a NINo.

You'll be registered automatically and sent a NINo just before your 16th birthday if you live in the UK and your parents or guardians are getting Child Benefit for you.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.