NHS National Insurance for Doctors

10 Minutes

Starting life somewhere new always means learning new things. After all, you’re stepping into an entirely new lifestyle and culture!

When moving to the UK and working for the NHS, you’ll have to learn about the kind of taxes and payments you’ll need to make each month, one of those being national insurance. So if you want to learn what national insurance is, including why you need to pay it and how to get your own national insurance number, then read on.

What is National Insurance?

In the UK, almost every employed person earning over a certain amount has to pay national insurance. It’s a type of social security that goes directly into the welfare state. When you pay for national insurance, you secure your entitlement to the UK’s state benefits, which helps people financially when they’re retired, ill, or unable to work for any other reason. There are many reasons a person might need to rely on the welfare system!

When it comes to paying national insurance, there are different classes: Class 1, Class 1A, Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4. As an NHS doctor, you’ll need to be concerned with Class 1, which is for any employee earning more than £242 per week. The other classes include Class 3, which involves voluntary contributions, or Class 4 for self-employed people.

Who Has to Pay National Insurance?

Anyone in the UK who is 16 years old or over and earns more than £242 per week will have to pay national insurance. If a person is self-employed, they will have to pay national insurance as soon as they make more than £11,908 in profit. That is mandatory. You will fall under the bracket of earning more than £242 per week as an NHS doctor (under Class 1), so you’ll have to start paying national insurance as soon as you start your new job.

How Much Will You Pay?

Of course, you will want to know how much of your earnings will go towards national insurance. If you earn between £242 and £967 per week, you will pay 12% of that income. If you make over £967 per week, you will also pay 2% on any income over £967.

Fortunately, paying for national insurance isn’t difficult, as it automatically comes from your payslip when you work for the NHS. Your NHS employer will calculate how much you must pay, so you don’t have to worry. You’ll see how much national insurance you have paid when looking at your payslip (which will also show the other taxes you’ve paid).

What is a National Insurance Number?

In the UK, as soon as a person turns 16, they receive a national insurance card with their own unique national insurance number on it. This number is eight digits long, with six numbers and two letters. As someone moving to the UK, you will receive your national insurance number once you move. Once you have it, it’ll stay the same forever, whether you stay in the UK or move away. It records all your national insurance contributions, taxes, and employment history.

How Do You Get a National Insurance Number?

As you won’t have received a national insurance number on your 16th birthday, you’ll need to sort out getting your national insurance number once you arrive in the UK. You can submit the application online. For the online application, you will need your passport or biometric residence permit (and you must already live in the UK). You’ll also need ID documents and to upload a photograph of yourself with those documents. After submitting the application, you’ll receive a reference number.

Receiving your national insurance card and number can take up to four weeks.

Can You Start an NHS Job Without a National Insurance Number?

Fortunately – yes. It’s very common for IMGs to start their new NHS job without yet having an NHS number, as it can take four weeks for the card to turn up. In this case, your NHS hospital will provide a temporary number, which will then get changed once you have your NI number.

What Happens if You Lose Your National Insurance Card?

Don’t worry if you lose your national insurance card. It’s not the card you need to keep safe. Instead, the NI number matters – that’s what you’ll need for any job you take in the UK. You can find your NI number on a payslip or tax return if you lose your national insurance card.

If you can’t find your NI number, call the national insurance helpline for assistance. After answering questions and proving your identity, they will confirm your NI number over the phone. Remember to write it down and keep it safe!

How Long Do You Have to Pay National Insurance?

Assuming you stay living and working in the UK, you will keep paying national insurance until you reach the state pension age. At this moment in time, the state pension age is 66. However, that is set to rise gradually from 2026.

National Insurance: Refunds and Exemptions

You can claim a refund on national insurance if you have paid too much, you will need to do so on the UK government website.

The only exemption you’ll get from paying national insurance but still being able to receive the benefits of the welfare system is if you earn between £123-£242 per week. If you’re self-employed, you must be making a profit of either £6,725-£11,908 per week.

There are no other exemptions to paying national insurance if you are working – it’s mandatory, and it will automatically come out of your payslip each month.

In Summary

National insurance might be a new term to you when moving to the UK. It’s important to understand what it is and how it works. After all, you’ll be paying towards it while working for the NHS! The key point to remember is that you’ll only start paying after earning £242, and once you do, it will be automatically deducted from your NHS salary.

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