If you do not pay National Insurance you may have gaps in your National Insurance record. 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 or working outside the UK
Gaps can mean you will not have enough years of National Insurance contributions to either:
You may be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps.
Who cannot pay voluntary contributions
You cannot pay voluntary contributions if you:
- do not have gaps in your National Insurance record - unless you’re getting Class 3 credits and are eligible to pay Class 2 contributions
- are a married woman or widow paying reduced rate National Insurance
- have passed the deadline for paying contributions for the period that has gaps
Check your record for gaps
Check your National Insurance record to find out:
- if you have any gaps
- how much it will cost to pay voluntary contributions
If you have gaps in your National Insurance record, check if you’re eligible for National Insurance credits before deciding to pay voluntary contributions.
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 do not always increase your State Pension, for example if you were contracted out.
If you’re below State Pension age, contact the Future Pension Centre to find out if you’ll benefit from voluntary contributions.
If you’ve reached State Pension age, contact the Pension Service to find out if you’ll benefit from voluntary contributions.
If you’re living or working abroad and you’re over, or within 6 months of reaching State Pension age, contact the International Pension Centre for advice.
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 or increase your 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 have annual profits of less than £6,725
- you’re self-employed but do not pay Class 2 contributions through Self Assessment
- you live outside the UK, but you want to qualify for certain benefits or the State Pension
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