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  • Writer's pictureJane Wu LLB ACA

National Insurance

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Check your contributions to keep your pension and other entitlements

National Insurance contributions are paid in order to qualify for certain benefits and the state pension. You will start paying national insurance if you are over 16 and either:

  • an employee earning over £184 per week in 21/22 (183 in 20/21); or

  • self employed and making a profit of £6,515 or more per year in 21/22 (£6,485 in 20/21)

You may have gaps in your contribution record due to e.g. low earnings or unemployment. This is a common issue for women who have taken time out of work to care for children, but can equally apply to men. Gaps can mean that some years do not count towards your state pension leading to reduced payments. However you can make voluntary contributions to fill any gaps. Note that if you earn between £120 and £184 a week, your contributions are treated as having been paid to protect your National Insurance record.

You can check your National Insurance record here:

This will also tell you how much it will cost to plug any gaps.

You may want to pay voluntary contributions because:

  • you’re close to State Pension age and do not have enough qualifying years to get the full State Pension

  • you know you will not be able to get the qualifying years you need to get the full State Pension during your working life

  • you’re self-employed and do not have to pay Class 2 contributions because you have low profits

  • you live outside the UK, but you want to qualify for some benefits

Voluntary contributions do not always increase your State Pension. Contact the Future Pension Centre to find out if you’ll benefit from voluntary contributions.

If you’re employed, you stop paying Class 1 National Insurance when you reach the State Pension age.

If you’re self-employed you stop paying:

  • Class 2 National Insurance when you reach State Pension age

  • Class 4 National Insurance from 6 April (start of the tax year) after you reach State Pension age


The information contained within in this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice specific to your own circumstances from your own adviser.

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