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:

  • the current year
  • 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
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 close to or over State Pension age

Your situation Which class to pay
You’ve reached State Pension age Class 3 - for gaps from before you reached State Pension age
You reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016 and want to top up your State Pension Class 3A - between 12 October 2015 and 5 April 2017