2. Eligibility

You must be eligible to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions for the time that the contributions cover.

You can usually only pay for gaps in your National Insurance record from the past 6 years.

You can sometimes pay for gaps from more than 6 years ago depending on your age.

Who can pay voluntary contributions

These tables explain who’s eligible to pay Class 2 or Class 3 contributions.

Your situation Which class to pay
Employed but earning under £112 a week and not eligible for National Insurance credits Class 3
Self-employed with profits under £5,965 Class 2 or Class 3 - they count towards different benefits
Both employed and self-employed, with low earnings and small profits Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to check if you have a gap and how much you need to pay
Self-employed as an examiner, minister of religion or in an investment or land and property business Class 2 or Class 3 - they count towards different benefits
Living and working abroad Class 2 - but only if you worked in the UK immediately before leaving, and you’ve previously lived in the UK for 3 years in a row or paid 3 years’ National Insurance
Living abroad but not working Class 3 - but only if at some point you’ve lived in the UK continuously for 3 years or paid 3 years of contributions
Unemployed and not claiming benefits Class 3
Married woman or widow who stopped paying reduced rates Class 3

You can’t pay voluntary contributions if:

If you’re over State Pension age

Your situation Which class to pay
You’ve reached State Pension age and want to fill in gaps in your record Class 3
You reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016 and want to top up your State Pension ‘State Pension top up’ - until 5 April 2017

You can’t top up your state pension if you reached State Pension age after 6 April 2016.