How to actually pay voluntary Class 3 National Insurance Contributions!

edited 2 March at 7:18PM in Pensions, Annuities & Retirement Planning
15 replies 1.3K views
John_GrayJohn_Gray Forumite
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I would be grateful if someone could explain the actual mechanics of paying for voluntary Class 3 NICs to make up a shortfall in National Insurance contributions over the years.  Some hours of wrestling with the GOV.UK website has not revealed any online method of paying for some or all of the deficient years.  To pay using Faster Transfer I see from this page:
Make your payment to the following HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) bank account.
Sort code     Account number     Account name
08 32 20     12001004     HMRC NICO
Reference number xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Use your reference number when making your payment. You’ll find it on your bill.
For one-off payments, your number will be 18 characters beginning with 60.
Unfortunately there is no information about how to obtain this "bill", and no apparent way of obtaining the magic reference number starting with 60.
I surmised that it was necessary to telephone HMRC (on 0300 200 3500) to discuss the amount to be paid and thus obtain a letter which would be the "bill" to which the web page refers, including the reference number.  About an hour on the telephone revealed that the call taker didn't have a clue what to do, and could only suggest a 0800 number, available only between 09:30 and 15:30 (I think), which would mean taking an afternoon off work.
Can anyone offer any suggestions, please?
You'd think they would make it easy for them to be paid money, but no...



  • edited 2 March at 7:46PM
    tacpot12tacpot12 Forumite
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    edited 2 March at 7:46PM
    You are correct about the number to call, and they should have been able to help you on that number. I called them on 21st Jan this year to make up one year of NI contributions by making some Class 3 contributions and would have taken the Class 3 payment over the phone. The girl I initially spoke to was knowledgeable but thought that I could make Class 2 contributions at a lesser rate so transferred me to a colleague who explained how I could make Class 2 contributions, but who also confirmed that the cost of my Class 3 contributions would be only £10 more than the Class 2 (due to how much I had paid). He offered the option that I could make Class 2 contributions via my Self Assessment (SA) return, or I could pay the Class 3 contributions over the phone. As making the Class 2 contributions involved logging into my Tax Account and amending my SA return for last year (which seemed a bit risky), I thought I would pay the Class 3 contributions there and then. 

    I would give them a call again and just tell them the year you want to make up the contributions for an stay on the phone until you take a payment from you.  

    I was told it would take about 8 weeks for my NI records to be updated and show in my State Pension forecast. 

    I didn't apply to make Class 3 contributions using the form suggested by Marcon. 
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • itsanneitsanne Forumite
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    The website is horrendous! It was much easier pre-Covid when a cheque with a covering letter could be sent.

    I had the same problem, but  at least when I made the last payment by phone (same number), the person answering did know what to do. However, it took a while for her to make sure the money headed to the right account -  apparently there are lots of very similar account numbers for differing purposes and she had to search to identify the correct one - so make sure your payment goes to the right place. 

    I would phone the same number again, and hopefully be answered by someone who does know what to do.

    . . .I did not speak out

    Then they came for me
    And there was no one left
    To speak out for me..

    Martin Niemoller
  • StubodStubod Forumite
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    ..just tried to do this, (did it last year no probs), but every number I try just "drops out", no message, just cuts me off?....and no option to e-mail, and no notes on the website??
    .."It's everybody's fault but mine...."
  • edited 4 March at 10:47AM
    p00hsticksp00hsticks Forumite
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    edited 4 March at 10:47AM
    I agree that the 0300 200 3500 number should be the correct one. I used it pre-COVID and got through to a knowledgeable and helpful person who both gave me account details and reference to make a faster payment for a previous year and set up a direct debit for me to make monthly payments going forward.  
    The only other option I can suggest is to write to them (address at the end of the link below) and ask them to confirm how much to pay and provide account details and reference for you to be able to make the payment. 

  • StubodStubod Forumite
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    ..just tried an alternative no. as per above, and managed to get through after a 5 min wait, and managed to get the reference number...they advised there were "technical issues" with the other numbers on the website...
    .."It's everybody's fault but mine...."
  • herebemeherebeme Forumite
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    You should call the future pension centre forecast line before you pay anything.
    0800 731 0181
    0800 731 0175
    I used the first number, but it’s not intuitive what option to press to get to the voluntary contribution dept. There’s about 20 to 40 minute wait depending on time of day. The advice is variable. Some waive you through while others arrange a call back with detailed advice (worth it IMO). 
    The figures listed on your HMRC gateway account under “view gaps in your record” are not necessarily what you should pay - mine were about £100 per year less than stated in the NIC summary I could view online.

    Plus the 3rd guy I spoke to at FPC pointed out some of the years I could technically make a voluntary payment for wouldn’t actually do anything to increase my state pension. Overall I paid significantly less than I thought by talking to the Future Pension Centre first. 
  • herebemeherebeme Forumite
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    The future pension forecast is a government service. I can’t post links yet but you can find it if you google. 
  • StubodStubod Forumite
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    ..the amount to pay was fairly straightforward for us, OH retired early so she had one year (last year) that could be topped up. The previous year we also topped up, but a smaller amount as she had contributed something during the year. We plan to "top up" every year we can as she is well short of the maximum available, and I understand it's about a 3 year pay back.
    .."It's everybody's fault but mine...."
  • bigferbigfer Forumite
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    wife wants to pay for future years and after some prodding, the HMRC told her to fill in a CA5603 and return back to HMRC to set up direct debits going forward. A lot of chew TBH and the Future Pensions are uncontactable unless you can speak Welsh and hit option 1. 
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