Deciphering National Insurance Contributions in the UK: A Guide

National Insurance Contributions UK

Do you know about National Insurance Contributions (NICs)? Are you paying the right amount for your contributions? Understanding NICs is essential to ensuring that we meet our financial obligations as citizens of the United Kingdom.

In this article, we will review what NICs are, who they apply to, and how they work, as well as provide tips on making sure that you pay your' NICs correctly. Let's start by finding out what exactly those pesky letters mean!

What is national insurance?

National Insurance is a tax applied to earnings and other forms of income over certain thresholds. It is used to help fund state benefits, such as the state pension and the national health service. NICs are paid by employers, employees, self-employed individuals, and other people.You get pension when you reach state pension age which is 16 in the UK.

Who pays national insurance contributions?

Employers and employees pay national insurance contributions on earnings above a certain threshold.

Self-employed individuals also need to pay national insurance contributions, although the rates and thresholds differ from those of employers and employees.

Certain other categories of people may also be required to pay national insurance contributions, such as those who have retired and are receiving a state pension.

National insurance contributions in the UK

African man signing document in office

Within the UK, Class 1 National Insurance stands at 13.25% of earnings, between £242 and £967 a week; however, once this figure surpasses, weekly income is subject to a lesser 3.25%. Here is how Employer's and Employees' contributions differ:


Companies make Class 1 National Insurance contributions of 15.05% on most worker salaries over the secondary threshold for 2022/2073, which is currently set at £175.01 every week or £758.00 a month.


If you are an employee, PAYE will automatically take Class 1 contributions from your wages when you start earning over £242.00 a week (2022 to 2023 tax year). Your Employer then forwards the money collected to HMRC. Basically, you start paying national insurance once you earn £242.00 a week.

Special Provisions

Nonetheless, there are exclusive allowances for employees under the age of 21 and apprentices below 25 to be exempt from national insurance up to a certain upper secondary limit. For 2022-2023, this threshold is £967 per week, £4,189 per month, or an annual amount of £50,270.


As a self-employed individual, it is essential to remember that you will be required to pay Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance Contributions to remain compliant.

Class 2

From April 6th to July 5th, 2022-23, individuals who earn between £6,725 and £9,880 will be exempt from Class 2 NI contributions. Subsequently, from July 6th until the end of the tax year, earning within that same range but up to £12,570 won't have to pay either.

As soon as you earn more than £9,880 from April 6th to July 5th or£ 12,570 onwards starting on July 6th, Class 2 contributions are expected at a rate of £3.15 per week.

Class 4

From 2022-2023, you will owe Class 4 National Insurance contributions at a rate of 10.25% for annual profits that fall between £12,570 -£50,270. However, from April 5th to July 6th of 2022, the thresholds were lowered to range from £9,880-£12,570. If your yearly profits surpass the amount of £50270, then expect an obligation of 3.25%.

What are class 3 national insurance contributions?

Class 3 national insurance contributions are voluntary national insurance contributions designed for those who want to make up any national insurance contribution gaps in their national insurance record that can help qualify them for state benefits.

Making class 3 national insurance contributions is done by paying a lump sum to HMRC at the basic rate of £14.65 per week. You have to pay voluntary contributions.

How does a gap occur in my national insurance record?

Gaps can occur in national insurance records when someone has worked for an extended period but has not paid national insurance contributions (NIC). This could be due to several reasons, such as:

  • Taking a career break

  • Working abroad

  • Working on a self-employed basis without paying national insurance.

If you have any gaps in your national insurance contributions record, you may be able to make up these gaps by making national insurance contributions. The amount of national insurance contributions you need to pay depends on the gap in your national insurance record and when the national insurance contribution was due.

What are HM revenue and customs?

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the government department that collects national insurance contributions from employers, employees, and self-employed individuals. HMRC is responsible for collecting

  • Taxes

  • National Insurance Contributions

  • Duties

It is also responsible for ensuring that national insurance contributions are paid in full and on time. HMRC has a range of powers to ensure compliance, such as imposing fines or criminal proceedings where national insurance contributions are not paid in full.

By understanding national insurance contributions and ensuring that payments are made on time, employers can ensure that their businesses remain compliant with national insurance law.

Where is the national insurance contributions spent?

Happy young couple calculating bills at home-3The government utilizes the funds gathered from National Insurance contributions to finance a variety of public services and programs such as:

  • Pensions

  • Unemployment Benefit

  • Sickness Benefits

  • Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay

  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

These funds also help to finance the National Health Service (NHS), state education, and national infrastructure projects. As such, national insurance contributions play an important role in improving the lives of citizens and helping to create a strong, prosperous national economy.

What are national insurance credits?

National insurance credits are a type of national insurance contribution that some individuals in the UK can qualify for.

Credits are available to people who do not earn enough from their employment, including those on benefits and self-employed individuals, to pay national insurance contributions directly.

By receiving national insurance credits, these individuals can:

  1. Benefit from national insurance contributions without having to make any payments directly.

  2. Qualify for certain national insurance-related benefits, such as national insurance pensions.


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How are national insurance contributions different from taxes?

There are two major differences:

Use of Funds

Taxes are money that individuals pay the government to finance public services and national infrastructure projects. By contrast, national insurance contributions are a form of social security that helps to fund state benefits such as pensions and unemployment benefits.

Payment Requirements

Employees do not need to pay national insurance contributions until their wages reach a certain threshold. Income Tax, however, must be paid on any income earned above the personal allowance.



National insurance contributions are a vital part of the UK tax system, and it is essential that employers comply with national insurance law by making the necessary payments on time.

Understanding national insurance can help employers remain compliant and meet their national insurance obligations.

National Insurance credits can also help to ensure that those who are not earning enough from their employment can still benefit from national insurance contributions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • To get a full state pension, you must have at least 10 years of national insurance contributions.

  • All people over 16 must pay National Insurance contributions if they have a job. Employees must begin paying this tax when their earnings exceed the set threshold.

  • Generally speaking, national insurance contributions are compulsory for employees and self-employed individuals earning above the relevant national insurance thresholds.

  • The national insurance rate varies depending on how much you earn, but it usually ranges from 12% to 2%. You can find out more information about national insurance rates on the HMRC website.

Employee Management
Carin Vreede

Written by:

Carin Vreede

With years of experience in the HR field, Carin has a lot of experience with HR processes. As a content marketer, she translates this knowledge into engaging and informative content that helps companies optimize their HR processes and motivate and develop their employees.


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