1. Overview

You pay National Insurance contributions to qualify for certain benefits including the State Pension.

You pay National Insurance if you’re:

  • 16 or over
  • an employee earning above £155 a week
  • self-employed and making a profit of £5,965 or more a year

You need a National Insurance number before you can start paying National Insurance contributions.

If you earn between £112 and £155 a week, your contributions are treated as having been paid to protect your National Insurance record.

National Insurance classes

There are different types of National Insurance (known as ‘classes’). The type you pay depends on your employment status and how much you earn, and whether you have any gaps in your National Insurance record.

When you stop paying

If you’re employed, you stop paying Class 1 National Insurance when you reach the State Pension age.

If you’re self-employed you stop paying:

  • Class 2 National Insurance when you reach State Pension age (or up to 4 months after this to pay off any contributions you owe)
  • Class 4 National Insurance from 6 April (start of the tax year) after you reach State Pension age