Until April 1977, married women could choose to pay a reduced rate of National Insurance (sometimes called the ‘small stamp’).

The reduced rate is 5.85% of your weekly earnings between £153 and £805 (instead of the standard rate of 12%) if you’re employed.

You might still be paying the reduced rate if you opted in before the scheme ended.

If you’re self-employed

You don’t pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions if you opted in before the scheme ended.

How your benefits are affected if you’re opted in

Your State Pension will be reduced and you won’t be able to claim some benefits.

You won’t usually be entitled to benefits based on your National Insurance contributions.

You won’t usually get National Insurance credits unless:

  • you’re a widow
  • you get Child Benefit for a child under 12
  • you’re looking after someone who’s sick or disabled

You may still be able to claim:

  • benefits based on your husband’s contributions, eg a lower State Pension
  • statutory payments, eg Statutory Sick Pay
  • benefits that aren’t based on your contributions, eg Carer’s Allowance

You can’t pay voluntary National Insurance contributions to improve your State Pension.

Changes to the State Pension from 6 April 2016

The rules on claiming State Pension based on a spouse or civil partner’s contributions are changing on 6 April 2016. This will affect women born on or after 6 April 1953 and men born on or after 6 April 1951.

The new State Pension is based on your own National Insurance contributions.

You might be able to increase your State Pension if you paid married women and widow’s reduced-rate contributions.

Check how you’re affected

Get a State Pension statement if you want an estimate of what you’ll get when you reach State Pension age.

You can also check your National Insurance record for gaps.

Stop paying the reduced rate

Once you give up your right to pay the reduced rate, you can’t claim it again.

Fill in form CF9, or form CF9A if you’re a widow, and send it to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

If your circumstances change

You’ll lose the right to pay the reduced rate if:

  • you get divorced
  • you haven’t earned over the Lower Earnings Limit (currently £111 a week), or been self-employed, for 2 tax years in a row

If your husband dies, you may be able to keep your right for a certain time. Contact HMRC for more information.

Tell your employer or HMRC if you lose the right to pay the reduced rate. You might owe HMRC unpaid National Insurance if you don’t.

What you need to do

Tell your employer - they’ll fill in part 2 of your ‘certificate of election’ and give it back to you. Fill in part 1 and send it back to HMRC.

If you’re self-employed, register to pay Class 2 National Insurance straight away. Fill in part 1 of your certificate of election and send it back to HMRC.

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

Start paying the reduced rate

You must already be opted into the scheme.

Give your ‘certificate of election’ - form CA4139, CF383 or CF380A - to your employer if you want to claim your entitlement to pay the reduced rate.

If you opted in but don’t have your certificate, you can apply for a new one by sending form CF9 (if you’re married) or form CF9A (if you’re a widow) to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ