National Insurance credits

If you're not paying National Insurance contributions because, for example, you can't work due to illness or you're caring for someone, you may be able to get National Insurance credits. Credits can help maintain your National Insurance record and so protect your entitlement to the basic State Pension and certain other state benefits.

On this page:

What are National Insurance credits?

There are two types of National Insurance credits:

  • Class 1 credits - which count towards your entitlement to the basic State Pension, bereavement benefits and some other state benefits
  • Class 3 credits - which count towards your entitlement to the basic State Pension and bereavement benefits only

Top

Effect on State Pension and other benefits

If you get National Insurance credits they're added to any National Insurance contributions you've already paid for the tax year. Both count towards your basic State Pension, bereavement benefits or other state benefits (Class 1 credits only). National Insurance credits won't usually be awarded if you've already paid enough contributions in the tax year to qualify for these benefits.

Top

Who is eligible for National Insurance credits?

There are different circumstances in which you may be able to get credits. These are:

  • when you are unemployed, or unable to work because you are ill, and claiming certain benefits
  • If you were aged 16 to 18 before 6 April 2010, you were usually credited automatically with National Insurance credits. No new awards will be made from 6 April 2010.
  • if you are on an approved training course
  • when you are doing jury service
  • if you are getting Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Additional Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Sick Pay, Maternity Allowance or Working Tax Credit
  • if you have been wrongly put in prison
  • if you are a man approaching age 65 (however, from 6 April 2010 these credits are being phased out in line with the increase in women's State Pension age)
  • if you are caring for a child or for someone who is sick or disabled
  • if you are aged 16 or over and provided care for a child under 12, that you are related to and you lived in the UK for the period(s) of care
  • if your spouse or civil partner is a member of Her Majesty's forces and you are accompanying them on an assignment outside the UK

To check the conditions for when you might be able to get credits and what type you could get see the section 'National Insurance credits in different situations' below.

There are special arrangements for people who worked or were detained without pay in Iraq during the Gulf Crisis. If you think you might be affected by this, write to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) at:

HM Revenue & Customs
National Insurance Contributions & Employer Office
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

Top

National Insurance credits in different situations

The type of National Insurance credits you'll get depends on your individual circumstances. You'll have to meet certain conditions to get the credits.

If you've been claiming benefits or caring for a sick or disabled person

You can also get National Insurance credits for any weeks when you've been claiming benefits such as:

  • Carer's Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance
  • Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are caring for a sick or disabled person you can get National Insurance credits for any weeks when you've cared for them for 20 hours a week or more. The person you care for must be getting the Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate, Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance, or qualify for a Care Certificate. Find out more by following the links below.

Getting credits towards your State Pension (Opens new window)

Caring and your Pension (Opens new window)

If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010 and were getting Home Responsibilities Protection

New National Insurance credits for parents and carers replaced Home Responsibilities Protection from 6 April 2010.

If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010 and you had years of Home Responsibilities Protection before 6 April 2010, these years have converted into National Insurance credits, up to a maximum of 22 years. These will go towards your basic State Pension.

Find out about changes to the State Pension for parents and carers (Opens new window)

Specified Adult Childcare credits

New National Insurance credits were introduced by the Government from the 2011-12 tax year.

If you are a grandparent or other family member aged 16 or over, but under State Pension age, and you provide care for a child (or children) aged under 12 usually because their parents (or main carers) are working, you may be able to get these National Insurance credits.

They count towards basic State Pension and certain Bereavement Benefits. You will have to claim the National Insurance credits - they will not be added automatically to your National Insurance contribution record.

You should not claim these National Insurance credits if you are:

  • the child's parent and entitled to receive Child Benefit for the child - you get Parent's National Insurance credits automatically
  • the partner of, and live with, the Child Benefit recipient and you want to transfer entitlement to the Parent's National Insurance credits from your spouse or partner to yourself. Use form CF411A to do this.

Go to form CF411A

The Specified Adult Childcare credits application form requires the personal details and signatures from both the applicant and the child’s parent or main carer. The first part of the form requires the applicant details and the second part the child’s parent’s details.

Click on the link below to find out if you are eligible to claim for the National Insurance credits before applying.

Find out if you're eligible for the credits (PDF 55K)(Opens new window)

Make an application for Specified Adult Childcare credits

Other situations when you might be entitled to National Insurance credits

Your circumstances - if you're: Type of credits you'll get Main conditions to meet
Aged 16 to 18 Class 3 credits If you were aged 16 to 18 before 6 April 2010, you were credited automatically with National Insurance credits. No new awards will be made from 6 April 2010.
On a training course Class 1 credits You must be over 18 and on an approved, full-time (normally more than 20 hours per week) course that's expected to last less than one year. The course should not be part of your job and GCSE, 'A' level or equivalent courses don't count. Special rules apply if you are disabled.
On jury service Class 1 credits You must have attended court and you must be either not working or employed but your earnings are too low for you to have to pay contributions. If you are self-employed whilst on jury service you can't get credits.
Wrongly imprisoned Class 1 credits Your conviction must be quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Off work and getting Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay, Additional Statutory Paternity Pay or Statutory Adoption Pay Class 1 credits You must have received one of these types of payment and your earnings for the tax year are not enough to make the year a 'qualifying year' for State Benefit purposes.
Getting Working Tax Credit or the disabled element of Working Tax Credit Class 3 credits (Working Tax Credit) or Class 1 credits (disabled element of Working Tax Credit) You must be getting Working Tax Credit or the disabled element of Working Tax Credit. If you are self-employed and getting Working Tax Credit or the disabled element of Working Tax Credit you must also have a Small Earnings Exception Certificate - follow the third link below.
A man approaching age 65 Class 1 credits You must be either not working, or not earning enough to make the year a 'qualifying year' for State Pension purposes. If you're self-employed, you must have a Small Earnings Exception Certificate - follow the third link below. You must live in the UK for at least 183 days in the tax year. From 6 April 2010, these credits are being phased out in line with the increase in women's State Pension age.
Caring for a child Class 3 credits You must be aged 16 or over, below State Pension age and getting Child Benefit for a child under 12 or you must be an approved foster carer or kinship carer.
A family member providing care for a child under 12 Class 3 credits You are aged 16 or over and provided care for a child under 12, that you are related to and you lived in the UK for the period(s) of care.
Accompanying a spouse or civil partner who is a member of Her Majesty's forces on an assignment outside the UK Class 1 credits You must be on an accompanied assignment outside the UK and either be married to or in a civil partnership with a member of Her Majesty's forces.

To find out more about the conditions you have to meet to qualify for these credits, call the National Insurance Enquiries for Individuals by following the first link below.

National Insurance Enquiries for Individuals Helpline

Tax and National Insurance for the employed

Class 2 National Insurance contributions

Understand the basic State Pension (Opens new window)

Top

Who isn't eligible for National Insurance credits?

You can't normally get National Insurance credits in the following circumstances:

  • You're a married woman (but not a widow) and have a 'Married Woman's Reduced Rate Election' - except in certain circumstances, for example if you've been wrongly imprisoned or you are caring for a child or someone who is sick or disabled. Find out more about married women, widows and reduced National Insurance by following first the link below.
  • You reached State Pension age before 6 April 2010 and couldn't work because you were at home looking after a child or someone who was sick or disabled, and you weren't getting Carer's Allowance. But you may have received Home Responsibilities Protection instead - follow the second link below to read more.

You won't normally need National Insurance credits when you are due to pay Class 1 or 2 contributions. You pay Class 1 contributions if you're an employee and Class 2 contributions if you're self-employed.

Married women, widows and reduced National Insurance

Find out more about Home Responsibilities Protection (Opens new window)

Top

How to get National Insurance credits

You'll get National Insurance credits automatically in some situations. If you don't, you'll need to apply for them.

Qualifying automatically for National Insurance credits

You'll get National Insurance credits automatically:

  • if you're getting certain benefits like Employment and Support Allowance or Carer's Allowance
  • if you are a man approaching age 65 - see the section 'National Insurance credits in different situations'
  • for the tax years when you become 16, 17 and 18, if you meet the conditions - see the section 'National Insurance credits in different situations'
  • if you're getting Child Benefit for a child under 12
  • if you're receiving Income Support and caring for a sick or disabled person

You can find out more about qualifying for credits in the section above on National Insurance credits in different situations.

Claiming credits if you don't get them automatically

If you think you should get National Insurance credits because you are claiming benefits or are caring for a sick or disabled person find out what to do by following the link below.

Getting credits towards your State Pension (Opens new window)

If you're claiming credits for caring for a child you can apply using CF411A Application form for credits for parents and carers by following the link below. If you're an approved foster carer or kinship carer, you'll need to send a letter of confirmation with your application form. You can get a letter of confirmation from the local authority or fostering agency you are registered with.

Go to form CF411A

If you think you should get any of the other National Insurance credits shown in the table but you don't get them automatically you'll need to apply to HMRC in writing after the end of the tax year.

Send your claim to:
HM Revenue & Customs
National Insurance Contributions & Employer Office
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

If you are claiming credits because your spouse or civil partner is a member of Her Majesty's forces and you are accompanying them on an assignment outside the UK, you'll need to get your application signed and stamped by your Families or Welfare Officer.

MODCA1 - Application form for National Insurance Credits

Check you're getting National Insurance credits

You can check National Insurance credits have been recorded on your National Insurance record by:

  • asking for a statement of your National Insurance account. Find out how to get a statement of account by following the link below.

Checking your National Insurance contributions record

  • contacting your local Jobcentre Plus office (Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office in Northern Ireland) to find out about credits for state benefits like Employment and Support Allowance

National Insurance Enquiries for Individuals Helpline

Get contact details for your local Jobcentre Plus office (Opens new window)

Top

If you're thinking about paying voluntary contributions

If you're thinking about paying voluntary National Insurance contributions, don't overlook any automatic credits you might have already received.

You can find more information to help you make up your mind about paying voluntary contributions by following the link below.

Do you need to top up your National Insurance contributions?

Top

More useful links

How claiming Child Benefit can protect your State Pension

National Insurance and state benefits

If you think HMRC decision is wrong

Top