National Insurance and Tax

A person calculates their tax


Students aren't exempt from paying national insurance or income tax.

National insurance and tax

When you have to pay

  • Income tax is deducted from your pay if you earn more than £1,042 a month on average
  • You must pay National Insurance if you earn more than £184 per week
National insurance and tax

National Insurance number

Every UK citizen is issued with a National Insurance number at the age of 16. Everyone that wants to work in the UK needs to have a National Insurance number. The National Insurance number acts as an account number and makes sure that you pay the correct amount of tax and National Insurance contribution.

National Insurance is a compulsory government tax that is automatically deducted from your pay if you earn more than £184 per week from a job. National Insurance contributions are usually about 12% of your pay. All employees must pay National Insurance, international students are not excluded. You cannot claim National Insurance contributions back.

If you intend to work while studying in the UK, any employer will require you to provide them with your National Insurance number so that they can pay your wages and make any applicable tax/national insurance deductions.

National insurance and tax

Advice for International Students

UK residents are allocated a National Insurance number automatically at the age of 16; however, being a European or International student, you will not have this number so you will need to apply for one.

  • You cannot apply for your National Insurance number until you arrive in the UK
  • Check details on applying for National Insurance numbers and familiarise yourself with the process of applying for National Insurance numbers - The link to begin an application online for a National Insurance Number is the bottom of the web page.
How to apply

Contact the Jobcentre Plus National Insurance number allocation helpline on Tel: 0800 141 2075 (opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm). Explain that you are an International student at the University of Salford and that you are currently seeking work (or have already started working) and that you want to apply for a National Insurance number.

Jobcentre Plus may write to you and ask you to come to an interview where you'll be asked about your circumstances and why you need a National Insurance number.

The letter will also tell you which documents to bring to prove your identity, such as:

  • passport or identity card
  • residence permit
  • birth or adoption certificate
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • driving licence

You will be told at the interview how long it will take to receive your National Insurance number.

You will be asked some very straightforward questions at the appointment as to why you want a National Insurance number, and providing the National Insurance number Office are satisfied you have been looking for work they will submit an application for a National Insurance number on your behalf.

Starting work

You can start work before your National Insurance number arrives if you can prove you have the legal right to work in the UK. You should tell your employer that you've applied for one, and give it to them when you have it.

You do not necessarily need to have secured a job before applying for a National Insurance number. If you can provide evidence that you have been 'actively looking for work' the National Insurance number Office will consider your request for obtaining one and the following will be considered as suitable supporting evidence:

  • Register on the Careers & Enterprise vacancies database via Advantage – it logs your details and they can be printed off to show you are looking for work, plus it's a great source of part-time job opportunities
  • An application form that you are going to complete to apply for a job.
  • A letter from a recruitment agency or consultancy which shows that you have registered with them to find work.
  • A letter from an employer which states that you are being offered a job or that you have been unsuccessful in applying for a job.
  • A pay slip or contract of employment.

You can find further help on the GOV.UK webpage National Insurance: general enquiries or via the enquiries helpline on 0300 200 3500 (open Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm and Saturday: 8am to 4pm).

Speak to a Small Business Adviser

Our Small Business Advisers are on hand to help. Book an appointment on Advantage or call +44 (0)161 295 0023 (option 5).

Appointments are available for current students and graduates of the University of Salford only.