Voluntary National Insurance

Gaps in your National Insurance Record 

You may get gaps in your record if you do not pay National Insurance or do not get National Insurance credits (external link). This could be because you were: 

  • employed but had low earnings 
  • unemployed and were not claiming benefits 
  • self-employed but did not pay contributions because of small profits 
  • living abroad 

Gaps can mean you will not have enough years of National Insurance contributions to get the full State Pension (external link) (sometimes called ‘qualifying years’). 

You may be able to pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps if you are eligible (external link)

Check your Record for Gaps 

Check your National Insurance (external link) record to find out: 

  • if you have any gaps 
  • if you are eligible to pay voluntary contributions 
  • how much it will cost 

You may also be eligible for National Insurance credits (external link) if you claim benefits because you cannot work, are unemployed or caring for someone full time. 

Contact HM Revenue and Customs (external link) (HMRC) if you think your National Insurance record is wrong. 

Decide if you want to Pay Voluntary Contributions 

Voluntary contributions do not always increase your State Pension. Contact the Future Pension Centre (external link) to find out if you will benefit from voluntary contributions. 

You may also want to get financial advice (external link) before you decide to make voluntary contributions. 

Why you might want to Pay Voluntary Contributions 

You may want to pay voluntary contributions because: 

  • you are close to State Pension age (external link) 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 are self-employed and do not have to pay Class 2 contributions because you have low profits or live outside the UK, but you want to qualify for some benefits (external link) 

Self-Employed People with Specific Jobs 

Some people do not pay Class 2 contributions through Self Assessment, but may want to pay voluntary contributions. These are: 

  • examiners, moderators, invigilators and people who set exam questions 
  • people who run businesses involving land or property 
  • ministers of religion who do not receive a salary or stipend 
  • people who make investments for themselves or others - but not as a business and without getting a fee or commission