The National Insurance Number (NINO) is, perhaps, the most important number an individual will ever be allocated as it is used by many organisations for many different purposes. It is extremely important that NI history is recorded against the NINO for entitlement to some State benefits, particularly State Pension.

When it comes to payroll processing, the NINO is a vital piece of ‘matching data’ for HMRC. Essentially, this unique number is used to match an employee in payroll software to an individual on HMRC’s system. Where there is a match, there is one employment record created, i.e., one employment and one employment record on HMRC’s systems. Where there is not a match, there is the possibility that HMRC will not create a single employment record, thereby resulting in a duplicate.

The important message, therefore, is that the employee should declare the NINO to the employer and the employer should make every possible effort to obtain this. This is easier said than done as, sometimes, we do not get this information in time for the first RTI submission. April’s Employer Bulletin from HMRC contained information on getting the number, aimed at both employees and employers:


Sometimes, the employee does not always have the number themselves so there are a range of options available to them:

  • Try looking at HMRC/DWP correspondence and information such as previous payslips, P60s, P11Ds
  • If they have never had one before, make an application
  • The NINO can be viewed if they have a Personal Tax Account – if they don’t, it is good advice to register
  • Use the ‘Get your National Insurance Number by post’ service
  • Use the ‘Find a lost National Insurance number’ online service. Although this requires a Government Gateway user ID and password and is only access to their Personal Tax Account anyway
  • As a last resort, call HMRC on 0300 200 3500. However, the individual is likely to be referred to the above options

The intention of this article and HMRC’s advice is that the NINO is important data, not least for matching purposes on HMRC’s systems.

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