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HMRC launches fully digital service for voluntary NI contributions

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 30 Apr 2024

The government has launched a new service that allows individuals to identify gaps in their national insurance (NI) record and make voluntary contributions without phoning for a reference number.

An individual’s NI record determines if they can claim the state retirement pension and how much, as well as other contributory social security benefits. In general, employees and the self-employed make NI contributions based on their earnings. Some individuals receive NI credits. If a person has gaps in their NI record, they may want to consider making voluntary NI contributions.

The government’s new online service indicates whether paying voluntary contributions will increase the amount of state pension. However, it is important to check whether any contributions or credits are missing from the record. Individuals should also consider whether they will accrue enough qualifying years before their expected state retirement age, potentially making the payment of voluntary contributions unnecessary. It can be a tricky decision on which individual advice is required.

Although individuals have been able to identify gaps in their record online for some time through the personal tax account, they had to phone HMRC to obtain a payment reference. This enabled HMRC to allocate payments. However, that is no longer necessary and payment can be made securely through the new service. Individuals will receive confirmation that their payment has been made and that their NI record will be updated. To use the service you must enter your personal tax account sign-in details. The service can also be accessed via HMRC’s app

Normally, it is only possible to make voluntary NI contributions for the previous six tax years. However, an extension is in place. This means that individuals can fill gaps in their NIC record between 6 April 2006 to 5 April 2018 by making voluntary contributions by 5 April 2025. 

The service is not currently available to those who are already receiving their state pension, the self-employed, or people currently living outside the UK with gaps incurred while working abroad. HMRC’s guidance explains how those excluded from the service can manage their NI record.

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