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Class 3 voluntary national insurance contributions

This page is for you if you will reach your state pension age before October 2015 and on or after 6 April 2016.

Sometimes you don't have to pay national insurance contributions (NICs).  This might be because you're not working or you don't earn enough.  You may be able to pay voluntary NICs so that you can still claim certain state benefits, including the basic state pension

However, your entitlement to certain state benefits and the amount you can get depends on your NIC record. (In some cases it depends on your spouse or civil partner's contributions.) These benefits include: 

  • state pension
  • contribution-based jobseeker's allowance
  • bereavement allowance
  • contribution-based employment and support allowance. 

HMRC has made changes to extend the time limits for paying voluntary NICs for the 2006-07 to 2015-16 tax years inclusive, to ensure contributors who reach state pension age under the new state pension system are not disadvantaged.

Those affected will have more time to pay voluntary class 2 or class 3 contributions for the years from 2006-07 to 2015-16.  The extended time limits apply if:

  • A person reaches state pension age on or after 6 April 2016; and
  • The person makes payment by 5 April 2023.

The amount to be paid is as follows:

  • If paid by 5 April 2019, the amount payable is the rate that applied in the 2012-13 tax year for the tax years 2006-07 to 2010-11.
  • For the remaining years, up to and including 2015-16, higher rate provisions will not apply until 5 April 2019.
  • If payment is made after 5 April 2019, the rates may have increased. 

You can find further details here: 

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ni/volcontr/whentop-up.htm 

Paying voluntary NICs

The NICs that you can pay voluntarily are normally Class 3 contributions, but if you're self-employed or living abroad, you can pay Class 2 contributions instead. 

Before deciding whether to pay voluntary NICs, you should make sure that: 

  • there are gaps in your NI record for which payment can be made
  • you know how much you need to pay
  • you understand the benefits of paying 

If you are unsure, you should ring the DWP Future Pension Centre on 0191 218 3600. 

When you can't pay voluntary NICs 

You cannot always pay Class 3 contributions; for example, if: 

  • you're a married woman (or a widow) and paid reduced rate contributions for that year
  • you reached state pension age in that year
  • you're entitled to NI credits - although there are exceptions to this rule. 

Deciding whether to pay voluntary NICs 

It isn't always right for you to pay voluntary NICs.  It depends on several things, for example, how much you've paid in already and when you reach your state pension age. 

Click here to read more about deciding whether to pay voluntary NICs.  

The cost of voluntary NICs 

The cost depends on the year you want to pay for.  The cost for the 2014/15 tax year is: 

  • £13.90 a week for Class 3 voluntary NICs
  • £2.75 a week for Class 2 voluntary NICs 

Periods spent abroad 

You may be able to pay voluntary NICs if you're living abroad, or fill in gaps from when you were living abroad.  There are special rules for this, and you can find them here.

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