2. Eligibility and rates

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.

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

Your situation Eligible to pay voluntary contributions Current rates
Employed but earning under £111 a week and not eligible for National Insurance credits Yes Class 3: £13.90 a week
Self-employed with profits under £5,885 and a small earnings exception Yes, you can choose to pay voluntary Class 2 or Class 3 contributions - they count towards different benefits Class 2: £2.75 a week or Class 3: £13.90 a week
Living abroad and employed or self-employed immediately before leaving the UK Only if at some point you’ve lived in the UK continuously for 3 years or paid 3 years worth of contributions - you must also have been employed or self-employed abroad during the gap you’re making contributions for Class 2: £2.75 a week
Living abroad and not working in the country you moved to Only if at some point you’ve lived in the UK continuously for 3 years or paid 3 years worth of contributions Class 3: £13.90 a week
Unemployed and not claiming benefits Yes Class 3: £13.90 a week
Eligible for National Insurance credits No N/A
Married woman or widow paying reduced rates No N/A
Married woman or widow who stopped paying reduced rates Yes Class 3: £13.90 a week

You’re close to or over State Pension age

Your situation Eligible to pay voluntary contributions Current rates
You’ve reached State Pension age Yes, for gaps from before you reached State Pension age Class 3: £13.90 a week
You reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016 and want to top up your State Pension Yes, between 12 October 2015 and April 2017 Class 3A: calculate the rate

Rates

You usually pay the current rate when you make a voluntary contribution.

However, if you’re paying Class 2 contributions for the previous tax year or Class 3 contributions for the previous 2 tax years, you pay the original rate for those tax years.

If you’re a man born after 5 April 1951 or a woman born after 5 April 1953 you may be able pay different rates for gaps between 2006 and 2017.