Married women, widows and reduced National Insurance

Until 1977 married women and widows could 'elect' (choose) to pay a reduced rate of Class 1 National Insurance contributions when an employee, and not to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions when self-employed.

On this page:

Effect on National Insurance contributions if you're an employee

If you're an employee and you, or your employer, hold a valid 'certificate of election' - form CA4139, form CF383 or form CF380A - you can pay reduced rate Class 1 National Insurance contributions.

The amount you pay depends on how much you earn. The reduced rate for the 2013 to 14 tax year is:

  • if you earn more than £153 and up to £805 a week, you pay 5.85% on the amount you earn compared to the full rate of 12%
  • if you earn more than £805 a week, you also pay an extra 2% on all your earnings over £805

Example

Marie earns £400 a week. She pays reduced rate Class 1 National Insurance contributions of 5.85% on £247 (£400 - £153), which is £14.45 a week.

Sarah earns £1,000 a week. She pays reduced rate Class 1 National Insurance contributions of 5.85% on £652 (£805 - £153) of her earnings, which is £38.14. She also pays an extra 2% on the difference between £805 and £1,000 (£195), which is £3.90 The total amount she pays each week is £42.31 (£38.41 + £3.90).

Check the National Insurance contribution rates

Read about tax and National Insurance for the employed

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Effect on National Insurance contributions if you're self-employed

If you're self-employed and you hold a valid 'certificate of election' - form CA4139, form CF383 or form CF380A - you don't need to pay any Class 2 National Insurance contributions. But you may have to pay Class 4 contributions if your annual taxable profits are over a certain amount. You pay 9% on profits between £7,956 and £41,865 and a further 2% on profits over that amount.

Check the National Insurance contribution rates

Read about tax and National Insurance for the self-employed

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Effect on your entitlement to state benefits

Reduced rate Class 1 National Insurance contributions don't count towards 'contributory benefits' like the basic State Pension and bereavement benefits. So if you've chosen to pay these (when an employee) or not to pay Class 2 contributions (when self-employed) you won't normally be able to claim benefits based on your own contributions record. However, you may still be able to get some benefits based on your husband's (or your late husband's) contributions if you reach state pension age before 6 April 2016. Find out more by following the link to GOV.UK below.

Find out about changes to the state pension on GOV.UK (Opens new window)

For more information on how reduced National Insurance contributions affect your entitlement to state benefits, follow the link below.

Giving up your right to pay reduced National Insurance

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Applying for a 'certificate of election'

If, for whatever reason, you don't have a certificate of election but you think you are entitled to one, fill in:

  • form CF9 if you're a married woman
  • form CF9A if you're a widow

You can download these forms from the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website. Or you can call the National Insurance Enquiries for Individuals Helpline on telephone: 0300 200 3500. The helpline is open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday except bank holidays.

Send your form to HMRC at:

National Insurance Contributions & Employer Office
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

Download form CF9 Married woman's application for a certificate of election of reduced liability or to change to full liability

Download form CF9A Widow's application for a certificate of election of reduced liability or to change to full liability

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Losing the right to pay reduced contributions

You'll lose your right to pay reduced Class 1 National Insurance contributions (when an employee) or not to pay Class 2 contributions (when self-employed) if you:

  • get divorced
  • have your marriage annulled

You'll also lose the right if, for two consecutive tax years, you haven't:

  • had any earnings on which Class 1 contributions are payable or 'treated as paid'
  • been self-employed

If you're an employee

If you're an employee and you lose your right you'll need to:

  • tell your employer you're no longer entitled to pay reduced rate Class 1 contributions
  • get back your certificate of election from your employer
  • fill in the relevant part of the certificate and send it to:

    HMRC
    National Insurance Contributions & Employer Office
    Benton Park View
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE98 1ZZ

If you don't tell your employer:

  • you may be held responsible for any underpayment of National Insurance contributions
  • it may affect your future entitlement to benefits

If you're self-employed

If you're self-employed and you lose your right you'll need to:

  • register to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions
  • fill in the relevant part of your certificate of election and send it to:

    HMRC
    National Insurance Contributions & Employer Office
    Benton Park View
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE98 1ZZ

You must contact HMRC as soon as you're due to pay Class 2 contributions. Otherwise you may have to pay a penalty.

Find out about tax and National Insurance for the self-employed

If you become a widow

If you're widowed you don't automatically lose your right to pay reduced contributions. You may be able to keep your right for a certain period after the date when your husband died. For more information, call the National Insurance Enquiries for Individuals Helpline on Telephone 0300 200 3500. The helpline is open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday except bank holidays.

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More useful links

Giving up your right to pay reduced National Insurance

Tax and National Insurance for the employed

Tax and National Insurance for the self-employed

Voluntary National Insurance contributions - the basics

Married Couple's Allowance

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