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Voluntary NIC

Voluntary National Insurance Contributions

What are Voluntary National Insurance Contributions? They are NI installments that you can pay by choice to top up gaps in your National Insurance record.

VOLUNTARY NI CONTRIBUTIONS: There are times when you do not need to pay NICs or cannot qualify for NI credits.

But, you can choose to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions.

You would be topping up any gaps that exist in your NI record. Paying voluntary National Insurance counts towards many state benefits and towards the UK State Pension.

National Insurance contributions that employees pay voluntarily are usually Class 3 contributions. Those who are self-employed or living abroad may choose to pay voluntary Class 2 contributions instead.

Gaps in National Insurance Payments

What happens if you do not qualify for National Insurance credits or have not paid National Insurance? You will end up with gaps in your National Insurance record. These gaps can appear because:

To receive the full State Pension you must have paid the required number of years of NI contributions. These are also known as the 'qualifying years'.

Having gaps in your NI record usually means you will receive a reduced pension. Those who are eligible you can fill these gaps by making voluntary National Insurance contributions.

How to Check National Insurance Record for Gaps

You can find out whether you have gaps in your record by requesting to see your National Insurance statement. The online check informs you of any gaps and how much you need to pay to fill them.

Another method of filling the gaps is by claiming National Insurance credits. As a rule your eligibility for credits depends on whether:

Note: You should check your National Insurance record and contact HMRC if you find any errors.

Further Help and Advice

The Future Pension Centre may help you find ways to fill gaps in your State Pension. As always, it is wise to get professional financial advice before you make voluntary National Insurance contributions.

Should I Make Voluntary NI Contributions?

These are many reasons why you might choose to pay voluntary contributions. They include circumstance where you:

Self-employed Workers with Specific Jobs

If you are on Self Assessment but do not pay Class 2 contributions your NI is not paid. In this case you may choose to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions. As a rule those who do not pay Class 2 contributions are:

Voluntary National Insurance Eligibility

Your eligibility to pay National Insurance contributions for the previous tax years usually depends on:

Who Can Pay Voluntary NI Contributions?

The following table shows payment eligibility for Class 2 or Class 3 voluntary contributions. It also includes information on Voluntary National Insurance contributions living abroad.

Your Work Status and Situation Which National Insurance Class to Contribute
Employed but earning under £113 a week and not eligible for National Insurance credits Class 3 National Insurance
Self-employed with profits under £6,025 Class 2 or Class 3 (they count towards different benefits)
Both employed and self-employed, with low earnings and small profits Contact 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 (only if you worked in the UK immediately before leaving and previously lived in the UK for 3 years in a row or paid 3 years’ National Insurance)
Living abroad but not working Class 3 (only if at some point you 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 cannot make voluntary National Insurance contributions if:

Your Work Status and Situation Which National Insurance Class to Contribute
You reached State Pension age and want to fill in gaps in your record Class 3

Note: You cannot top up your government pension if you reached State Pension age after the 6th of April 2016.

NI Voluntary Contribution Rates 2017/18

The voluntary NI rates for the 2017 to 2018 tax year are:

When You Might Pay a Different Rate

As a rule, when making voluntary contributions, you will pay the current tax year rate. But, you pay the original tax year rates for:

What if you are a man born after the 5th of April 1951 or a woman born after the 5th of April 1953?

In these cases the six year rule does not apply to you. If you pay for any gaps before 5th April 2019, different rates apply to tax years ending April 5th 2006 to April 5th 2016.

Your Contribution What it Covers Rate You Pay Until 5 April 2019
Class 2 Gaps between 6 April 2006 and 5 April 2011 £2.65 a week
Class 2 Gaps between 6 April 2011 and 5 April 2016 Rate from the year your contribution covers
Class 3 Gaps between 6 April 2006 and 5 April 2010 £13.25 a week
Class 3 Gaps between 6 April 2010 and 5 April 2016 Rate from the year your contribution covers

Note: Contact HMRC if you have questions about Voluntary National Insurance contributions.

How to Pay Voluntary NI Contributions

Find out how to pay Class 2 and Class 3 contributions. Read the government leaflet NI38 and complete the CF83 form at the bottom if you are a resident outside the UK. Send the completed form to the HMRC address on the document.

Deadlines for Voluntary National Insurance Contributions

As a rule voluntary contributions can only be made for the last six years. Payments must be received by the 5th April. For example: to make up a gap for the tax year 2010/2011 you must pay by 5th April 2017. There is an exception to this rule but it depends on your age.

What if you are a man born before the 6th of April 1950 or a woman born before the 6th of October 1952?

After reaching State Pension age you have six years to increase that pension. But you must be:

An Example: You have until 30th September 2022 to make voluntary contributions if you reached the State Pension Age on 1 October 2016.

What if you are a man born after the 5th of April 1951 or a woman born after the 5th of April 1953?

If you have gaps in your contributions between April 2006 and 2016 you have until 5th April 2023 to make payments. Different rates apply if you make payments before the 5th April 2019.

How to Increase Your State Pension

You may be able to increase your State Pension by up to £25 a week. But, you must make any lump sum payment before the 5th of April 2017.

UK State Pension Top Up (scheme closed)

Note: You cannot top up NI contributions any longer because the State Pension top up scheme has now closed. That means you cannot apply for the State Pension top up scheme or make any payments.

Get a State Pension Top Up Refund

There is a cooling off period of 90 days. If you change your mind during this cooling off period you can get a refund.

HMRC - State Pension Top up Refunds
Telephone: 0345 600 4270 (Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm)
Find out about call charges in the UK.

What Happens If You Die?

If you die within 90 days any contributions you have made will get refunded to your estate. If any top up payments have been made they will get deducted from the refund.

After 90 days the spouse or civil partner inherits the State Pension. They can inherit 50-100% of the top up amount. In the absence of a spouse or civil partner your estate can claim up to 3 months State Pension.

How to Pay Voluntary National Insurance Contributions in the United Kingdom