When and how to top up your National Insurance contributions

If you've got gaps in your National Insurance contributions record you may be able to top up the gap by making one-off voluntary payments. If you're not working or getting National Insurance credits, you may also be able to make regular payments to protect your contributions record for the future.

On this page:

Time limits for making up a National Insurance contribution gap

If you want to top up a National Insurance contribution gap, you normally have to do this within six years of the end of the tax year for which the contributions are being paid. You can do this even if you've already reached State Pension age.

If you pay more than two years after the end of the relevant tax year, the rate will normally go up.

However, there are exceptions (to time limits and/or the rates you have to pay) for certain tax years.

Normal six year time limits

Tax year with gap in National Insurance contributions

Voluntary Class 3 contributions must be paid by:

2008 to 2009

5 April 2015

2009 to 2010

5 April 2016

2010 to 2011

5 April 2017

2011 to 2012

5 April 2018

2012 to 2013

5 April 2019

2013 to 2014 5 April 2020

Check Class 3 rates (PDF 16K)

Extended time limits for the tax years 2006 to 2007 to 2015 to 2016

If you are affected by the proposed changes to simplify future State Pension you have more time to pay voluntary Class 2 or Class 3 National Insurance contributions for the years from 2006 to 2007, to 2015 to 2016. The extended time limits apply if:

  • you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016
  • and you make payment by 5 April 2023

The extended time limits are:

  • for voluntary Class 3 contributions, if you make payment by 5 April 2019 you will pay the contributions at the rate that applied in 2012 to 2013 tax year for the tax years 2006 to 2007, to 2009 to 2010
  • for voluntary Class 2 contributions, if you make a payment by 5 April 2019 you will pay the contributions at the rate that applied in 2012 to 2013 tax year for the tax years 2006 to 2007, to 2010 to 2011
  • for the remaining years up to and including 2015 to 2016 higher rate provisions will not apply until 5 April 2019
  • if you make payment after the 5 April 2019 the rates may have increased

Find out more about Proposals to change State Pensions (Opens new window)

Voluntary Class 3 National Insurance contributions for the tax years 1993 to 1994, to 2007 to 2008

You may be able to pay voluntary Class 3 National Insurance contributions for the 1993 to 1994, to 2007 to 2008 tax years at the original rates if you:

  • were wrongly awarded National Insurance credits when you were unemployed, sick or on an approved training course - find out more about conditions for getting National Insurance credits by following the third link below
  • make the payment by 5 April 2014

Check Class 3 rates for the tax years 1993 to 1994, to 1998 to 1999 (PDF 16K) (Opens new window)

Check Class 3 rates for the tax years 1999 to2000 to 2007 to 2008 (PDF 16K)

National Insurance credits

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National Insurance gaps - buying additional years of voluntary Class 3 contributions

From 6 April 2009, if you reach State Pension age between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2015 you may be able to pay voluntary Class 3 contributions for up to an extra six years - going back to 1975 to 1976 to make up any gaps in your National Insurance contributions record.

You can do this on top of making voluntary Class 3 contributions for the last six tax years or for any of the tax years for which there are extended time limits in which to pay - see the section above. You pay at the current weekly rate - so if you pay by 5 April 2015 the rate is £13.90.

You've got six years from the date you reach State Pension age in which to pay the voluntary Class 3 National Insurance contributions. Find out more by following the link below.

Download 'How to increase your State Pension if you reach State Pension age between 6 April 2008 and 5 April 2010' (Opens new window)

Download 'How to increase your State Pension if you reach State Pension age between 6 April 2010 and 5 April 2015' (Opens new window)

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How to pay a National Insurance contribution gap

You can make voluntary National Insurance contributions using any of these payment methods:

  • your bank (including overseas bank account) or building society's Internet or telephone banking service
  • Bank Giro, if your bank offers this service
  • cheque, cash or debit card at a Post Office
  • sending a cheque through the post

Find out more about payment options in the guide 'How to pay voluntary Class 3 National Insurance' by following the link below.

How to pay voluntary Class 3 National Insurance

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How to pay voluntary Class 3 contributions if you're not working or getting National Insurance credits and are living in the UK

If you're not working or getting National Insurance credits you may be able to pay voluntary Class 3 contributions to:

  • make sure you get a better State Pension when you retire
  • keep up your entitlement to certain bereavement benefits

There are two main ways of paying your Class 3 voluntary contributions:

  • monthly by Direct Debit
  • quarterly - if you live in the UK you'll get a bill every 13 weeks

You pay in arrears with both payment methods.

How to pay voluntary Class 3 National Insurance

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How to pay voluntary Class 2 or Class 3 contributions for periods spent abroad

There are special rules if:

  • you're living abroad and you want to pay voluntary Class 2 National Insurance contributions
  • you want to pay voluntary contributions for a past period when you were living abroad

Find out about topping up National Insurance contributions if you live or have lived abroad

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Decide if you need to pay voluntary Class 3 National Insurance contributions

If you're not sure whether to pay voluntary contributions, you should read the article 'Do you need to top up your National Insurance contributions?' and also consider the Government's proposals for simplifying the future State Pension. These proposals will not affect anyone reaching State Pension age before the reforms are introduced on 5 April 2016.

Read guidance on deciding if you need to top up your National Insurance contributions

Find out more about Proposals to change State Pensions (Opens new window)

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More useful links

Check National Insurance contributions rates

Voluntary National Insurance contributions - the basics

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