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
- state pension
- contribution-based jobseeker's allowance
- bereavement allowance
- contribution-based employment and support allowance.
The Government has announced its intention to reform the state
pension system, by changing it into a single-tier pension for those
retiring on or after April 2016. Under the proposed changes, the
number of qualifying years required for a full pension will be
raised from 30 to 35. There are special rules proposed for those
who retire in the new system but have built up qualifying years in
the old system. These make it hard for affected people to know
whether to pay voluntary NI, until the DWP can provide figures on
the new basis.
HMRC has extended the rules for the payment of voluntary NI
contributions so that those affected have more flexibility to make
voluntary contributions and time to wait until the DWP can provide
the figures. This page will be updated if the changes become
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
- there are gaps in your NI record for which payment can be
- 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,
- 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.
to use our voluntary NIC planner. This can help you
decide whether to pay NICs.
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 2013/14 tax
- £13.55 a week for Class 3 voluntary NICs
- £2.70 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.