Once you move to another country and start your life from scratch there, you have to be prepared for a lot of bureaucracy. Luckily, I’m a citizen of the European Union, which allows me to skip a lot of paperwork and other mess. However, there are things you just can’t avoid when you move to the UK, and the very first of them is – getting your National Insurance Number.
Why Do You Need A NIN?
If you intend to work in the UK, you can’t do without a National Insurance Number (NIN). Your NIN will identify you and ensure that the government records all the contributions you make towards the UK social security and state pension system.
If you are in a situation when you have already landed a job (unlike me), you will need to get that number before you get your first salary. If you don’t do that, you risk of overpaying taxes without the chance of claiming them back once you have the NIN.
But guess what? The process takes weeks and you can only apply once you’re in the UK. As I am still in the process of getting a job, I didn’t have to stress about it too much, however, this is a process you would want to start as soon as possible. Also, for me, it was needed to have a proof of address.
Proof of address is another thing one will need around here, as everything seems to be mail-based. Even the employers send their official job offers via mail! Brits love the mail! Or so it appears… It might seem that such means of communication should gradually disappear from our daily lives, but Brits are doing their best to keep it alive. Is preserving Royal Mail part of their identities?
The Process Of Applying For NIN
Everything is quite simple – you pick up the phone, make a call, arrange an appointment for your NIN interview, and prepare all the documents needed (detailed information here). I made the call on Thursday and got an appointment for Saturday. Things moving quickly? Not so fast!
For the interview, I was told to bring an ID and… funny enough, a proof of address. I didn’t find anything like that on the government website, so I decided to play dumb if asked. After all – the NIN letter I will get was to be my proof of address!
Some resources say you need some kind of proof that you have a job if that’s the case. Or if not – job rejection letters, letters from recruitment agents. Not true. Others write that you’ll have to give a detailed account on all your past years of work and travel. Also not true. Possibly, this experience might differ for others (I’d love to hear those stories!).
The NIN Interview
The interviews take place at the Jobcentre Plus, and you can find branches in every neighbourhood. Mine was just a 3-minute walk away, however, I had to commute to the other side of the city to a different one. Apparently, they don’t do the interviews in just any Jobcentre.
The interview itself seemed weird to me. I was ready to answer tricky questions about my intentions to live in the UK, but they were not bothered by that. They wanted to know all the addresses where I’ve have lived in the UK, if I am married, if I have ever had any other names, and whether I intend to change my name. The last two questions were asked twice. And no proof of address!
I also needed to fill out a simple form, get my passport photocopied, and I was all set. All I needed to do was to wait patiently for… a letter, of course! The wait might take up to 4 weeks, but I got my number 3 weeks after my interview.
One Of Them!
“One of us!” said my friend when I announced the ‘big news’ of getting a NIN. Yes, I must admit – I feel more local now, haha. But this is not the end of my dealings with British bureaucracy. More about it in other posts!
Note: This post originally appeared on Expat in MCR (expatinmcr.com) blog which has since been renamed to Dream Chaser (dreamchaserwrites.com).