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How to check for gaps in your national insurance

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I’m someone who likes to ensure that all of my tax affairs are always in order. I file the day the tax return window opens, save diligently for my tax and national insurance liabilities and I feel quite organised with it all.

Recently I was talking to a friend about national insurance and it got me wondering how do you check for gaps in your national insurance record? It is actually very simple, so I thought I’d write a little guide showing you exactly what to do.

You may want to check your record if you’ve had a break from work for a long period of time, or perhaps just to ensure the the Government has given you all of the credit that you’re entitled to while receiving child benefit or out of work for various reasons.

Note: Some of the screenshots are a little older on this post but it is up to date for 2024 instructions wise.

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How to check for gaps in your national insurance

First you head on over to the relevant part of the website. Here you will be able to see what you have paid so far, up to the start of the current tax year. Any national insurance credits that you have received will be available to see, as well as any gaps.

Gaps in your national insurance record can be quite simple to fill. This will vary from year to year, but I’ll show you an example of what you can expect to see when using the part of the website.

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You will need your Government Gateway ID to sign in to the website to see your record. If you do not have one yet you can set one up but you will then need to wait for something to come through the post.

If you need to do this then set yourself a reminder for a week or two just so you remember what you ordered the ID for!

Once you’re signed in you’ll see this screen:

Screenshot of checking your national insurance contributions

You’ll then be sent an access code to your mobile. Once you’re signed in you can check for gaps in your national insurance or print off proof of your NI number. You’ll be able to see all of the years that they have data for. Here is an example of what a full year will display like:

Gaps in your national insurance - What a full year looks like

If you have a year where you have not completed the payments you’ll be able to open up a dropdown to see what you need to pay. The amounts differ, as you can see from this example. This depends on your NI status for the previous tax year, if paying class 2, or tax years, if paying class 3:

A screenshot of gaps in your national insurance - what a year looks like when you have not completed it

Note: This really did rise after 2019! As of 2022 it’s £824.20 and £253.60! Ouch.

What to do if you have gaps in your national insurance?

Typically you can make up gaps in your national insurance from the past 6 years, based on current rates. You may be able to make up gaps in your national insurance from prior to this, but each year the amount you’ll need to repay will rise.

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You’ll want to contact HMRC to discuss this. You can usually pay gaps in a variety of ways. Also you can learn more about these methods on the Government website I linked to above.

Is it worth paying national insurance gaps?

I have previously made up a couple of years of national insurance contributions, as the money needed was incredibly low, literally just a few pounds!

This means I’m almost halfway towards the years of contributions I need for a state pension now. Whether we have one then or not remains to be seen I guess!

If it is worth it for you just depends on whether you feel you’ll continue working, and earning enough to pay contributions, to cover the remaining years that you have to cover.

Also, if you’ve got some years that are very low then they may be worthwhile, particularly if you’re someone who plans to retire young OR who has had a lot of years out of employment.

How many years national insurance contributions do you need?

To receive a state pension you need a minimum of 10 years, and to receive a full state pensions you need 35 years minimum. Most people will naturally earn this throughout their working life time, even if taking time out to have children, as certain benefits will provide you with credits for your national insurance record.7

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Find out how to fix gaps in your national insurance and protect your state pension

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Emma T

Saturday 11th of January 2020

Last year i paid for a gap from 1998! It only appeared in my tax return voluntary payments section 2 years ago, but i only looked into it last year. Can't understand how it happened, as I've always been paid through PAYE but evidently my first employer missed something out when doing my pay for my first job.


Tuesday 14th of January 2020

Oh wow, that is some time ago isn't it. How bad that they messed up too!

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