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HMRC internal manual

National Insurance Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Class 3 NICs: Restrictions on the right to pay: precluded Class 3 NICs: earnings factor is between 25 times and 52 times the lower earnings limit

Regulation 49(1)(c) Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 2001

Regulation 4 Social Security (Crediting and Treatment of Contributions, and National Insurance Numbers) Regulations 2001

Regulation 4 Social Security (Crediting and Treatment of Contributions, and National Insurance Numbers) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001As explained in

NIM25001, a person is not entitled to pay (ie, is precluded from paying) Class 3 NICs in certain circumstances. Subject to the qualification in NIM25011, one of those is that they cannot pay for any tax year for which the aggregate of their earnings factors (“EFs”) derived from:

  • earnings on which primary Class 1 NICs have been paid (for the 2003/04 and subsequent tax years, earnings on which primary NICs at the main primary percentage rate have been paid (see NIM01110)); or
  • credited earnings; or
  • Class 2 NICs paid; or
  • Class 3 NICs paid or credited,is more than 25 times the lower earnings limit (“LEL”) but less than 52 times for the tax year in question, and either:

  • the period within which any Class 3 NICs may be treated as paid [for the tax year] under regulation 4 has passed; or
  • before that date has been reached, the person has applied, under regulation 56 (NIM38501), for a refund of any Class 3 NICs paid for that year.For the meaning of “credited” for the purposes of the above, see


ExampleMr X pays 31 Class 3 NICs for the 2003/04 tax year. The EF derived from those NICs is £2,387. But having paid the 31 NICs, he decides, in December 2003, that he is unable to pay the other 21 NICs need to give him a qualifying year. Instead, in January 2004, he asks for a refund of the 31 NICs.

The EF of £2,387 is more than 25 times, but less than 52 times, the LEL for the 2003/04 year. The time by which Class 3 NICs are, for that year, treated as paid for benefit purposes under regulation 4 is 5th April 2010. As Mr X has applied for a refund of the 31 NICs before that date, those NICs are precluded.

The fact that he was not precluded from paying the NICs in the first place by any of the circumstances in NIM25005 is irrelevant. The NICs have, in essence, become precluded.

For details of the other circumstances in which a person is precluded from paying Class 3 NICs, see NIM25006 - NIM25008 and NIM25010 – NIM25017.