National Insurance for people coming to the UK

When you come to work in the UK you have to register for a National Insurance number and immediately start paying National Insurance contributions in the UK on the same basis as other people who normally live and work here.

If you are employed by a UK employer or are attached or seconded to a host business or client business in the UK, that business will operate National Insurance by deducting Class 1 employee’s National Insurance from your pay.

If you have a foreign employer and there is no other business in the UK responsible for operating National Insurance, you will be required to pay Class 1 employee National Insurance directly to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). You should contact your local HMRC office and ask about opening a Direct Payment scheme.

From 1 May 2010 (1 April 2012 for Switzerland, 1 June 2012 for Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, and 1 July 2013 for Croatia) an employer in another Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA), with an employee in the UK paying UK National Insurance is not treated as being a foreign employer but as being registered and having a place of business in the UK for National Insurance purposes. That employer should deduct National Insurance.

There are some limited exemptions from National Insurance that operate for certain employees and self-employed people coming to live and work temporarily in the UK.

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Coming to the UK from European Economic Area Countries (including Switzerland)

Coming to the UK from Countries with which the UK has a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security

Coming to the UK from a Country neither in the European Economic Area (including Switzerland) nor with which the UK has a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security

Coming to the UK from European Economic Area countries

There are special rules if you are coming to the UK from:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Switzerland (Switzerland is not in the EEA but applies most of the same rules).

If you come to the UK with a Portable Document A1, E101 or E102 from one of these countries showing that you are exempt under the special rules, you will be exempt from National Insurance contributions until the document expires.

These Portable Documents are most commonly issued where a person works in one country and then is sent by their foreign employer to work in the UK for a time.

If you are in business for yourself in your home country and you are self-employed in the UK, you may be able to qualify for a Portable Document  A1, E101 or E102.

The country where you are normally in business will advise you whether you can be issued with a Portable Document  A1, E101 or E102.

EEA rules mean that if you do not hold a Portable Document A1, E101 or E102 you will be required to register for a National Insurance number and pay National Insurance contributions on the same basis as a person who normally lives and works here.

Coming to the UK from a country with which the UK has a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security

There are special rules if you are coming to the UK from:

Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey and Guernsey, Korea, Mauritius, Philippines, Turkey, United States of America, Yugoslavia (not including Croatia or  Slovenia).

If you come to the UK with a certificate from one of these countries showing that you are exempt under the special rules, you will be exempt from National Insurance contributions until the certificate expires. These certificates are normally issued where a person works in one country and then is sent by their foreign employer to work in the UK for a time.

If you are in business for yourself in your home country and are intending to carry on your business in the UK, you may be able to qualify for such a certificate.

The country where you normally work will advise you whether you can be issued with a certificate.

If you do not hold a certificate from your home country, you will be required to register for a National Insurance number and pay National Insurance contributions on the same basis as a person who normally lives and works here.

Coming to the UK from a country that is neither in the European Economic Area (including Switzerland) nor with which the UK has a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security

Employees

The basic rule is that anyone coming to the UK to work is required to register for a National Insurance number and pay National Insurance contributions from the outset. If you are not covered by one of the agreements with EEA countries (including Switzerland) or by a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security that the UK has with certain other countries, there are certain exemptions:

Foreign employer sending employee to UK

National Insurance contributions are not payable for the first 52 weeks starting from the first Sunday after the employee arrives in the UK for an employee where all the following apply:

  • not normally living or working in the UK
  • who has been sent to work here temporarily by an overseas employer
  • the employer has a place of business outside the UK even if the employer also has a place of business in the UK
  • the employee continues to work for the overseas employer