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The Value in UK National Insurance Contributions

By Chris Eaborn
This article is published on: 4th June 2024

If you have lived and worked in the UK and have paid National Insurance Contributions (NICS) you may be able to buy top-up years for missed years from 2006 onwards. It will depend on where you are currently living, but it can be beneficial to secure all or a portion of the UK State Pension, which is currently £221 per week.

To qualify for a minimum UK State Pension you must have 10 qualifying years. For example, if you worked in the UK for five years, you would not qualify for a pension but you can buy five years of contributions (or for an even higher pension entitlement, the full eighteen years’ worth since 2006!) and you will receive a minimum State Pension which is currently £63 per week.

The numbers could be compelling as if you have to pay Class 2 voluntary contributions you would pay a one-off £819 (5 x £163.80) to take you to ten years of contributions and receive an indefinite pension in your retirement of what today is £63/week (£3,276 per year) compared to nothing at all! And even if you have to pay the higher Class 3 contributions you would pay £4,121 as a one-off to receive (at today’s levels) an annual pension of £3,276 per year for life from UK State Retirement Age.

You can check your National Insurance record here:

To qualify for a full pension depends on various factors that the HMRC will calculate for you.

You should urgently complete a form CF83 as there is a significant backlog for the response from HMRC with your calculations, and the deadline for making voluntary payments is 5th April 2025.

Form CF83 can be found here:

If you have any problems completing it, the telephone number for HMRC is +44 191 203 7010 and after the prompt you should say “International Case Worker” for the correct department.

The form gives you a choice of whether it is to request information about only buying back missing years, or only paying voluntary contributions in future years, or both. I was advised by the officer I spoke to that the maximum contribution required for a full pension varies (and you will be advised) but is typically 35 years.

There is no benefit to overpaying. For example, a young person working overseas who plans to move back to the UK and pick up paying NICS again, may not need to contribute for missing years if the time overseas is relatively short and they are likely to contribute at least the number of years to qualify for a maximum UK State Pension in the future.

Form CF83 must be physically posted to HMRC so we recommend registered mail of an international courier service such as DHL, FedEx, etc.

The cost of the additional contributions depends on whether you have to pay Class 2 or Class 3 contributions. Class 2 contributions are £163.80 per year and Class 3 are £824.20 per year. The HMRC report will tell you the cost and the resulting benefits and you can decide if you think the benefits outweigh the costs.

Clearly, there is no perfect calculation because you don’t know how long you will live after reaching UK State Retirement Age, but if the cost of topping yourself up looks reasonable it could be a helpful part of your retirement planning, especially if you live long into retirement as this will boost your “guaranteed” income.

**Finally, please note that this article is for information only and is subject to change. Please relay on the calculations by HMRC. Information as of 29th May 2024.

If would like to discuss your retirement planning with one of our experienced advisers, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Article by Chris Eaborn

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