Voluntary National Insurance

Gaps in your National Insurance record

You may get gaps in your record if you do not pay National Insurance or do not get National Insurance credits. This could be because you were:

  • employed but had low earnings
  • unemployed and were not claiming benefits
  • self-employed but did not pay contributions because of small profits
  • living abroad

Gaps can mean you will not have enough years of National Insurance contributions to get the full State Pension (sometimes called ‘qualifying years’).

You may be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps if you’re eligible.

Check your record for gaps

Check your National Insurance record to find out:

  • if you have any gaps
  • if you’re eligible to pay voluntary contributions
  • how much it will cost

You may also be eligible for National Insurance credits if you claim benefits because you cannot work, are unemployed or caring for someone full time.

Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if you think your National Insurance record is wrong.

Decide if you want to pay voluntary contributions

Voluntary contributions don’t always increase your State Pension. Contact the Future Pension Centre to find out if you’ll benefit from voluntary contributions.

You may also want to get financial advice before you decide to make voluntary contributions.

Why you might want to pay voluntary contributions

You may want to pay voluntary contributions because:

  • you’re close to State Pension age and do not have enough qualifying years to get the full State Pension
  • you know you will not be able to get the qualifying years you need to get the full State Pension during your working life
  • you’re self-employed and do not have to pay Class 2 contributions because you have low profits or live outside the UK, but you want to qualify for some benefits

Self-employed people with specific jobs

Some people do not pay Class 2 contributions through Self Assessment, but may want to pay voluntary contributions. These are:

  • examiners, moderators, invigilators and people who set exam questions
  • people who run businesses involving land or property
  • ministers of religion who do not receive a salary or stipend
  • people who make investments for themselves or others - but not as a business and without getting a fee or commission