1. Why pay voluntary contributions

You can pay voluntary National Insurance contributions to avoid or fill gaps in your National Insurance record.

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

You may get gaps in your record if you don’t pay National Insurance or don’t get National Insurance credits, eg you’re unemployed and don’t get any benefits.

You may be able to pay voluntary contributions depending on whether you’re eligible.

Check your National Insurance record for gaps

Check your National Insurance record to find out if you have gaps. Your record will tell you if you can pay voluntary contributions to fill gaps and how much it will cost you.

Decide if you want to pay voluntary contributions

You may want to pay voluntary contributions because:

  • you’re close to State Pension age and don’t have enough qualifying years to get the full State Pension
  • you want to increase how much pension you get each week
  • you know you won’t be able to get the qualifying years you need to get the full State Pension during your working life
  • you want to increase the bereavement benefits your spouse or civil partner gets if you die
  • you’re self-employed and don’t have to pay Class 2 contributions because you have low profits or live outside the UK, but you want to qualify for some benefits

Some people don’t 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 don’t 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