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 £123 a week and not eligible for National Insurance credits Class 3
Self-employed with income of £1,000 or less  Class 2 or Class 3 - they count towards State Pension and different benefits
Self-employed with income over £1,000 but with profits of less than £6,725 Class 2 or Class 3 - they count towards State Pension and 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 at least 3 years in a row or paid at least 3 years of contributions
Living abroad but not working Class 3 - but only if at some point you’ve lived in the UK for at least 3 years in a row or paid at least 3 years of contributions
Unemployed and not claiming benefits Class 3
Married woman or widow who stopped paying reduced rates Class 3

You cannot pay voluntary contributions if:

If you were living or working abroad

You can pay Class 2 or Class 3 voluntary contributions if you had either:

  • previously lived in the UK for 3 years in a row
  • paid at least 3 years of contributions

To pay Class 2 voluntary contributions you must also have worked in the UK immediately before leaving.

Fill in form CF83 at the end of leaflet NI83. Send the form to HMRC using the address on the form.

Between November 2017 and April 2019, HMRC’s guidance was incorrect. It said all these conditions must be true. If you did not apply or your application was refused because of the incorrect guidance, you may be able to pay at the original rates. Include a cover letter explaining your situation with form CF83.

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 National Insurance record Class 3