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HMRC internal manual

National Insurance Manual

National Insurance Numbers (NINOs): Format and Security: Who needs a NINO?

An individual must apply for a NINO if they are:

  • workers who are employees or self-employed
  • entitled and want to pay voluntary Class 3 NICs to maintain their NI record and would benefit from making the payment
  • claiming state benefit or tax credits
  • advised by Student Loan Company that they need to supply their NINO in connection with an application for a student loan.


NINOs are used by:

  • HMRC to record NICs and Credits, administer Child Benefit and Tax Credits
  • DWP - if a person makes a claim to benefit, DWP use the NI account to check entitlement based on their NICs and credits record. Claimants are required by law to produce their NINO or sufficient information to trace or allocate a NINO when they claim benefit.
  • employers who need to record NICs - an employee is required to tell their employer their NINO so it can be entered on the payroll records.
  • employers who may ask prospective employees to produce a NINO to help provide a defence against charges of illegal working under section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. The list of documents capable of being used as a defence includes “a document issued by a previous employer, HMRC, DWP or Employment Services which contains a person’s NI Number”. (This does not affect HMRC/DWP Policy on issuing NINOs).

For details of legislation, see NIM39330

For people who are not entitled to a NINO, see NIM39130.