This year, the UK Government announced that it would be extending the deadline available for individuals under the UK Pension age (66) to catch up on their National Insurance (NI) contributions to maximise their UK Pension. The deadline has been extended to April 2025.
A taxpayer needs 10 qualifying years of NI contributions to receive any UK State Pension and would require 35 years of contributions to receive the maximum. Currently, taxpayers are able to catch up on contributions from 2006.
From April 2025, the catch-up is being limited to the preceding six years. Therefore, if a taxpayer is nearly 66 just before the deadline, and has three years of contributions, post the deadline they would be unable to reach the 10-year minimum of contributions.
From our experience, making contributions to get 10 qualifying years’ worth of NI contributions (and a minimum UK State Pension entitlement) provides a very good return on investment.
To determine whether it is worthwhile catching up on contributions:
- The first step is to obtain a UK State Pension forecast. This forecast will give you an estimate of your State Pension based on your current NI contribution record. You can ask for a State Pension forecast in three ways.
- Online: to help plan your retirement income at GOV.UK (you’ll need to create an account to prove your identity and be under State Pension age).
- By calling: 0800 731 0175– or if phoning from abroad +44 191 218 3600. This service is only available if you’re 30 days or more from your State Pension age.
- By post: by completing a BR19 form and sending it to – The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton WV98 1LU. This service is only available if you’re 30 days or more from your State Pension age.
You will need your NI number to obtain your State Pension forecast. If you are unable to locate this, you can use the CA5403 form.
From experience, we suggest completing the process online as it saves considerable time. The alternative method relies on sending requests and receiving responses via post (which currently have significant backlogs).
To qualify for the full State Pension, you need 35 full years of qualifying National Insurance contributions. If you have between 10 and 35 years of contributions, you’ll only get a proportion of the full pension. The full State Pension is £203.85 per week, and it currently gets paid from State Pension age which is 66.
There are different types of National Insurance payments, referred to as Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. For individuals living abroad, whether you pay Class 2 or 3 will depend on your employment status. When you’re paying contributions for previous tax years, the cost depends on the year involved. For example, the cost of Class 3 voluntary contributions for each of the following full years be:
- 2006/07– 2019/20: £824.20
- 2020/21: £795.60
- 2021/22: £800.80
- 2022/23: £824.20
If you do need to pay Class 3 contributions to fill gaps in your record, you can either:
- Use the ‘Pay now’ link on the government’s Pay Voluntary Class 3 National Insurance page.
- Call UK State Pension team on 0800 731 0175, and they will provide you with the bank details and an 18-digit reference code that you can use to make the top-up contributions.
We always suggest that once you have obtained your State Pension forecast and decided to make any top-up contributions, to call the UK State Pension team for confirmation. They will be able to confirm the type of contributions you should be making, the years for which you will be topping up, as well the bank details to make the payments. This step is critical before making any payments as contributions made incorrectly can be difficult to get refunded (if not impossible). We would always advise calling the UK State Pension team directly for any final confirmation.
Finally, please see some useful website links that contain additional information: