Voluntary National Insurance

1. Gaps in your National Insurance record

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

  • employed but had low earnings
  • unemployed and weren’t claiming benefits
  • self-employed but didn’t pay contributions because of small profits
  • living abroad

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 be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps depending on whether you’re eligible.

Check your National Insurance record for gaps

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

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

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

Get help and advice

Contact the Future Pension Centre to find if there are other ways you can increase your State Pension.

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

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 know you won’t be able to get the qualifying years you need to get the full State Pension during your working life
  • 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

Self-employed people with specific jobs

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