Sometimes you don't have to pay National Insurance contributions. This might be because you're not working or you don't earn enough. But you may be able to pay voluntary contributions so that you can still claim certain state benefits, including the State Pension.
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If your work or personal situation means that you don't currently have to pay National Insurance contributions, or you are not entitled to receive National Insurance credits, you may still be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill in any gaps in your National Insurance record. Voluntary contributions count towards some state benefits and can also increase the amount of benefit you'll get.
The National Insurance contributions you can pay voluntarily are normally Class 3 contributions, but if you're self-employed or living abroad you may be able to pay Class 2 contributions voluntarily instead.
If you reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016 you may wish to consider the Government’s proposals to introduce a new type of voluntary contribution (Class 3A). These contributions are used to top up your Additional State Pension. The cost varies according to your age. More information can be found by following the link below.
You might choose to pay National Insurance contributions voluntarily if you're:
Before deciding to pay Voluntary National Insurance contributions, you should make sure that:
If you are unsure about any of the above, you should telephone the
DWP Future Pension Centre on
+44 191 218 3600 (Textphone +44 191 218 2051).
If, after considering the above you want to pay Voluntary National Insurance contributions - follow the link below.
There are some circumstances when you won't be able to pay Class 3 voluntary contributions. The most usual ones are if:
If you want to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions for the 2014 to 2015 tax year you'll have to pay:
If you're self-employed there are some circumstances when you won't be able to pay Class 2 contributions voluntarily - see the section below on voluntary contributions if you're self-employed.
If you're self-employed you can choose to pay Class 2 voluntary National Insurance contributions even if you don't have to pay them. It's normally better to pay Class 2 contributions voluntarily than to pay Class 3 voluntary contributions. It will cost you less and you'll get a wider range of state benefits.
You might choose to pay Class 2 contributions voluntarily when your earnings are low or because you work outside the UK. But there are some conditions you'll have to meet for paying Class 2 contributions voluntarily, if you're working outside the UK. To find out more, follow the link under the next section 'Paying voluntary contributions for periods spent abroad'.
You can find out more about how the type of contributions you pay affects the benefits you can get in our guide on National Insurance and state benefits.
You may be able to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions if you're living abroad and you may be able to pay them for a past period when you were abroad. There are special rules for paying voluntary National Insurance contributions for periods when you're abroad. You can check the rules by following the link below.
If you've got gaps in your National Insurance contributions record, your entitlement to the State Pension and certain bereavement benefits could be affected. You may want to consider filling in the gaps by paying voluntary National Insurance contributions.
You may also be able to increase your additional State Pension by paying voluntary Class 3A National Insurance contributions.
But it isn't always right or beneficial for you to pay voluntary contributions. It depends on several things, including how much you've contributed already and the date you reach State Pension age.
You should also consider the Government's changes to:
You can find more information to help you decide if it's worth paying voluntary contributions by following the links below.