Tax Glossary

Class 3 National Insurance

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Last updated on:
March 17, 2024

Class 3 National Insurance contributions are a voluntary option for those looking to fill gaps in their National Insurance record, enhancing eligibility for the state pension and potentially other benefits. These contributions are particularly relevant for individuals with certain employment circumstances or those living abroad.

Eligibility for Class 3 Contributions

Depending on your employment status and earnings, you may be eligible to make Class 3 contributions in scenarios such as:

  • Employed individuals earning less than £123 per week who do not qualify for National Insurance credits.
  • Self-employed individuals with profits less than £6,725 can choose between Class 2 or Class 3 contributions, depending on desired benefit eligibility.
  • Self-employed individuals with profits greater than £6,725 typically pay Class 2 contributions, but this will change from 6 April 2024 when Class 2 is scrapped.
  • Those employed with a low-earning side hustle should consult HMRC for guidance.
  • Special categories like self-employed examiners, ministers of religion, or those with investment income may choose between Class 2 or Class 3 contributions.
  • Individuals living and working abroad may opt for Class 3 if they have a sufficient UK connection.
  • Unemployed individuals not claiming benefits and certain married women or widows previously paying reduced rates can also pay Class 3.

Cost of Class 3 Contributions

For the 2023/24 tax year, the rate for Class 3 National Insurance is set at £17.45 per week. Contributions can be made directly through the HMRC website.

Limitations on Voluntary Contributions

It's important to note that voluntary contributions can typically only be made for the past six years. To determine eligibility and the potential impact on your state pension, contacting the Future Pension Centre is advisable.

Payment Methods for Class 3 NI

There are several ways to pay your Class 3 contributions:

  • Monthly Direct Debit: Offers a convenient way to spread the cost over time.
  • Single Lump Sum: Suitable for those who prefer to clear their contributions in one payment.
  • Quarterly Bills: Another option for managing payments over the year.

HMRC will set a deadline for payment, and it's crucial to adhere to this timeline to ensure your contributions are counted towards your NI record.


Making Class 3 National Insurance contributions is a strategic decision for those with gaps in their NI record or specific employment scenarios. By voluntarily contributing, individuals can secure or increase their eligibility for the state pension and other benefits, providing a valuable safety net for the future.

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