What are Class 3 National Insurance Contributions?

Class 3 national insurance contributions (NIC’s) are paid by people who want to avoid, or fill, gaps in their national insurance record.

The government allows some individuals to pay class 3 NIC’s to make sure they receive the full state pension amount.

Class 3 national insurance is an optional contribution that individuals can choose to make and isn’t an automatic deduction like class 1 national insurance.

Not everyone meets the criteria for voluntarily paying class 3 national insurance so it’s best to find out more and then apply the criteria to your own set of circumstances.

Why are Class 3 national insurance contributions important?

In order to receive the highest possible state pension in the UK an individual must have accumulated a minimum of 35 years of qualifying NI contributions.

If a person has more than 10 years but falls short of the full 35 years you can consider making voluntary contributions to increase your pension entitlement.

If you have fewer than 35 years but more than 10 (which is the minimum requirement), your pension will be adjusted proportionally based on the number of years you have contributed.

For individuals who have some qualifying years but less than 10, it may be beneficial to make voluntary contributions to meet the minimum requirement of 10 years so you will qualify for at least some of your state pension entitlement.

Some of the common reasons why people choose to pay class 3 NICs include:

  • You will not make the 35 ‘qualifying years’ you need to receive the full state pension.
  • You will not make the minimum 10 years to receive the minimum state pension.
  • You’ve reaching state pension age and want to make up some qualifying years.

Who can make Class 3 voluntary contributions?

Both employed and self employed individuals can be eligible to make class 3 NI contributions.

If you experience a year that does not meet the qualifying criteria you have the option to decide whether or not to make voluntary national insurance contributions.

For individuals who decide to convert a qualifying year that year will then contribute towards your state pension eligibility.

Why would I have a gap in my national insurance record?

There are several reasons why people have missing NICs from their record including:

  • Living and working outside the UK.
  • Unemployed and not claiming any state benefits.
  • Low paying employment and not eligible for national insurance credits.
  • Self employed with profits under a certain threshold.
  • You have been employed and self employed at the same time.

How much are Class 3 voluntary contributions?

For the year 2023/24 there is a £17.45 per week rate of class 3 contributions amounting to £907.40 annually.

On those figures for each additional qualifying year, you will receive an additional £5.82 per week (or £302.64 per year) in state pension.

If your state pension entitlement is already closer to the full rate the increase will be limited so that the total amount remains at the full rate.

For example making class 3 contributions for a single week can convert a year into a qualifying year.

Or for some people it may require an entire year of class 3 contributions for a year to be considered qualifying.

It’s always worth checking each year to see if the cost of class 3 NIC’s and other pension related figures have been changed by the government.

How to check your Class 3 NIC eligibility

Before paying class 3 contributions you should get a state pension forecast which will let you know how much state pension you could be entitled to, the date you can access it and the amount you can voluntarily pay to meet your state pension goals.

You can get a state pension forecast online through your government gateway account which if you don’t already have one can be set up quickly and only needs done once.

Individuals who are 30 days or more away from their state pension age can also:

Call the pension service on 0800 731 0175 or +44 191 218 3600 if you are calling from abroad


If you prefer to communicate by mail you can complete a BR19 form and send it to the following address: The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton WV98 1LU.

How do I make Class 3 voluntary contributions?

Paying your voluntary contributions should be pretty easy with all the normal ways of paying for something available.

If you prefer monthly payments, set up a Direct Debit for convenience or for quarterly payments, get in touch with HMRC and they will send you a payment request every July, October, January, and April.

You also have the option to make payments on the same or next day through various methods:

  • Approve a payment via your online banking account.
  • Utilize online or telephone banking (using Faster Payments or CHAPS).
  • Visit your bank or building society to make the payment.

Alternatively, you can pay within 3 days using online or telephone banking (using Bacs) or by sending a cheque through the mail.

If you wish to make regular payments to cover any gaps in your National Insurance record for the current tax year, you have the option to do so.

What are pension credits?

Pension Credit is a form of assistance designed to support individuals who have reached State Pension age and are facing financial challenges.

Even if you have other sources of income, savings, or assets, you may still be eligible for Pension Credit.

Pension credit consists of two elements Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit and can effect your suitability for class 3 contributions.

What are national insurance credits?

At the same time as considering making voluntary National Insurance contributions for a specific year, make sure you are receiving all the NI credits you are eligible for.

These credits are free and may apply if you are a parent or grandparent caring for a child in the family, claiming statutory sick pay, or taking care of a sick or disabled individual.

Contact the pension service

If you have completed the aforementioned steps and believe that paying Class 3 contributions is beneficial, it is recommended that you reach out to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to inquire about the potential impact this decision may have on your situation.

If you are below the state pension age you should get in touch with the Future Pension Centre through the official GOV.UK website.

If you are above the state pension age you should contact the Pension Service via the GOV.UK website.




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