'Gap in your National Insurance record' letter

If you don't have enough National Insurance contributions or credits for a particular tax year, and you reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016, you may have a letter telling you that the year won't count towards your basic State Pension and bereavement benefits. The letter explains how voluntary contributions can make the year count, and what to do if you think the gap information is wrong.

On this page:

How gaps in your National Insurance record might occur

There might be a gap in your contributions record for various reasons, for example you may have been:

  • employed but earning less than the lower earnings limit of £111 a week (2014 to 2015 rates)
  • unemployed and not claiming benefit
  • self-employed and you didn't have to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions because you applied for and were issued with a CA6812 Small Earnings Exception certificate - follow the link below
  • living abroad

Self-employed tax and National Insurance

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Periods covered by the gap letter

Gap letters are normally sent out between September and January. They tell you about:

  • gaps in your National Insurance record for the tax year that fell two years earlier
  • how many 'qualifying years' you already have up to and including the tax year before the one in which you have gaps

For example, if you received a letter in September or October 2013 (tax year 2013-14) it will be telling you about any gaps in the 2011-12 tax year and how many qualifying years you have up to the 2010-11 tax year.

A qualifying year is a tax year where you have paid, or you're treated as having paid or you've been credited with, enough National Insurance contributions to count towards your basic State Pension and certain bereavement benefits.

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What do you need to do if you received a letter?

You should check the information in your letter and then either:

  • tell HMRC if you don't think you have a gap - see the next section on what to do if the information in your letter is wrong
  • decide whether you want to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions to make up the gap

Your letter isn't a bill or a demand for payment. So it's your decision whether or not to pay voluntary contributions to make the year count towards your State benefits. But if you decide not to make up the gap, the year won't count towards your State benefits, even if you have paid some contributions for the year.

You can get more information to help you decide if you'd benefit from paying voluntary contributions by following the link below. You'll also find tables to help you work out the effect on your State Pension of paying or not paying voluntary contributions.

Help with deciding whether paying voluntary contributions is right for you

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What to do if the information in your letter is wrong

If you think the information in your letter is wrong you should either:

  • complete and return form CA93A Gap in your National Insurance contributions - additional information, which is enclosed with your letter
  • contact HMRC on Telephone 0300 200 3503 (lines are open from 8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday and from 8.00am to 4.00pm on Saturdays)

If you live abroad

If you live abroad you should either:

  • complete the Additional Information section of your letter and send it to HMRC
  • contact HMRC on Telephone +44 191 203 7010 (lines are open from 8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday)

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If you reach State Pension age after 6 April 2016

If you reach State Pension age after 6 April 2016, and have gaps in your National Insurance record, HMRC won't send you a gap letter. This is because the government is proposing to simplify the State Pension. The proposals - if accepted will bring in different rules to work out your State Pension and will affect men born on or after 6 April 1951 and women born on or after 6 April 1953. If you previously received a gap letter, until the rules change it will be more difficult for you to decide whether paying gaps in your record will improve your future State Pension. Before deciding to pay gaps in your record find out more about the proposals to change State Pensions by following the link below.

Proposals to change State Pensions (Opens new window)

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More useful links

Voluntary National Insurance contributions

When and how to top up your National Insurance contributions

National Insurance credits

Check the National Insurance rates and thresholds

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