Everything doctors need to know about National Insurance

Monday, July 4, 2022

Are you a doctor who is planning your relocation to the UK? With so many things to consider, it can be overwhelming. Our team of specialists are here to support you with every aspect of your relocation to live and work in the UK. Today, we cover how to apply for your National Insurance number. Spoiler! It's really easy. 

Once you have moved to the UK and are looking for work or have found a job, you will need a National Insurance Number to ensure your payments are correct. Luckily, the process of getting a one is quite straightforward so you can even apply once you have started your new job.

What is a National Insurance number?

National Insurance numbers are personal reference numbers which are unique to you and you have the same one throughout your life. The purpose of the number is to make sure the National Insurance contributions and taxes that you pay and are deducted from your salary are properly recorded against your name. It is also an easy way to identify you if you need to talk to the Department of Work and Pensions (DPOW) or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Who pays National Insurance?

Everyone who is 16 and over, is an employee and earns over the threshold which is set my HMRC and changes annually. You can see the 2022 to 2023 thresholds here

Who uses your National Insurance number?

It’s important to keep your number safe and only provide it to those who need it to protect yourself from identity fraud. Example of those who may need your National Insurance number include:

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • Your employer
  • Department for Work and Pensions which includes the job centre, pension and the disability and carers service.
  • Your local council if you receive housing benefits
  • Student Loans Company

How much National Insurance do you pay?

The amount of National Insurance you pay depends on your employment status and how much you earn. There have been some changes to National Insurance contributions in the form of a 1.25% increase between the 6th April 2022 and 5th April 2023

The percentage was previously set at 12% but is now 13.25%. There will be an additional percentage for high earners and there are some exemptions. As the information changes annually, you can review the latest information here

EDIT - On 22nd September 2022 it was announced that the additional 1.25% rise between 6th April 2022 and 5th April 2023 will be reversed from 6th November 2022. 

How do you get a National Insurance number?

In the UK, you will normally receive your National Insurance number automatically when you turn 16 years old.  If you have a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) you might already have a national insurance number and it will be printed on the back if you do.

If you do not have a National Insurance number, you must apply for one if you plan to work. You you must apply as soon as you arrive in the UK, not before, and you will need to do the application through the UK government website.

You can also call the free National Insurance number application helpline (England, Scotland and Wales) for assistance with your application on 0800 141 2079

What will you need?

If you have the following documents, use them when you apply:

  • a passport from any country
  • a BRP

You can also use a national identity card from:

  • a country in the EU
  • Norway
  • Liechtenstein
  • Switzerland

You can still apply if you do not have any of these documents, but you may need to attend an appointment to prove your identity.

How can you prove your identity?

You may be able to prove your identity online by submitting digital photos of your identity documents and yourself.

If you cannot prove your identity online, then you may need to:

  • post photocopies of your documents
  • attend an appointment

Getting a National Insurance number is a straightforward process and nothing to worry about when relocating to the UK. It can taken between 2 and 8 weeks depending on the season however, depending on your employer, you can sometimes start working before you have received this. We understand that moving to a new country can be a complex process and our team of specialists are here to support you with all aspects of relocating.

At A&E Agency, we’re passionate about the quality of our people and proud of the services we provide. If you need information or guidance with obtaining your National Insurance Number, register today with A&E Agency. Our team are here to help international doctors find great work opportunities in the UK in a range of sectors such as A&E, medicine, surgery and more. 

If you need advice on any aspect of relocating or advice on life in the UK, we are here to support you. 


National Insurance and Income Tax. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.rcs.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Applying-for-a-National-Insurance-Number.pdf.

Government Digital Service (2012). National Insurance. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance.