South Africans who are relocating to the United Kingdom sometimes get strangled in the paperwork and red-tape involved with their relocation.

One of the topics on which the consultants at Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants often get questions is the National Insurance Number.

We have compiled a short article for South Africans relocating to the UK, on the issue of the National Insurance number.

The National Insurance Number
The National Insurance (NI) number is unique for every person. You will keep your NI number for life, and the number will only be used for one person.

It consists of numbers and letters and is allocated by the Department for Works and Pensions.

The NI number is used by the HM Revenue & Customs and the Department for Works and Pensions to identify persons. The number also ensures that NI and tax contributions are recorded against the record of the correct person and that the correct amount of tax and NI are paid by every person.

The National Insurance number is also used in all communications between the individual and these government departments. The number will be displayed on your payslip; P60: tax letters and benefits; and the NI section or your personal tax account.

The National Insurance number is assigned to persons over the age of 16 years old.

UK Migrants and the National Insurance Number
Everyone in the UK who wants to work, have to have a National Insurance number. Persons who do not have a number, have to apply for this number.

It is, however, only possible to apply for the NI number once you are in the UK. You also have to have the right to work or study in the UK, before you are able to apply for the NI number.

In some cases, some migrants will already have their National Insurance Number printed on the back of their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

Working in the UK without your National Insurance number
A person will be able to start working in the UK before he/she receives the NI number. You will, however, have to be able to prove to your employer that you do have the right to work in the UK. You will also have to apply for your NI number and provide the number to your employer as soon as you receive it.

How to apply for the National Insurance number
To apply for your NI number, you have to phone the National Insurance number application line in the UK.

You can phone them at 0800 141 2075, or by textphone on 0800 141 2438.