You pay National Insurance contributions to qualify for certain benefits and the State Pension (external link).
You pay mandatory National Insurance if you are 16 or over and are either:
- an employee earning above £166 a week
- self-employed and making a profit of £6,365 or more a year
You may be able to pay voluntary contributions (external link) to avoid gaps in your NI contributions.
You need a National Insurance number (external link) before you can start paying National Insurance contributions.
If you earn between £118 and £166 a week, your contributions are treated as having been paid to protect your National Insurance record.
National Insurance Classes
There are different types of National Insurance (known as ‘classes (external link)’). The type you pay depends on your employment status and how much you earn.
When You Stop Paying
If you are employed, you stop paying Class 1 National Insurance (external link) when you reach the State Pension age (external link).
If you are 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