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Quest for an NI Number, part 1

(This is likely to be an extremely dull and probably uneventful saga, but if I write about it, friends who have gone through the process may be able to provide me with helpful advice.)

An appropriate governmental website tells me that to apply for an NI number*, I must go to my nearest Job Centre or Social Security office and apply in person; when the office is unable to locate an existing NI number for me, I will be scheduled for an interview.

I diligently look up and map the route to my nearest Job Centre. I walk there. It's 3:45 and the office is closed. The posted open hours are from 9 am - 5 pm, which I am clearly there between. A sign in the window lists numbers to call, depending on needs. I walk home and call the relevant number. It rings and rings and rings. No answer.

* National Insurance number. Just like a SSN or a SIN.

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
sioneva
May. 17th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
If the nearest one isn't responding, I'd ring others in the vicinity or try ringing that one again tomorrow before actually trekking out there.
owlfish
May. 17th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
It only just occurred to me that it's possible that the freephone number goes right back to that same office. It's not necessarily the case, but possible. The number listed for the branch itself was an 020 one, but the NI number was an 0845 one.
sioneva
May. 17th, 2006 04:01 pm (UTC)
That would be my guess...unless there's some kind of unofficial JobCentre holiday that nobody else gets!

It's strange to me that you can't just set an interview time in advance. I'm *sure* the DWP site, last I checked on behalf of one of our students, said to call up and book the appointment, then go. That's what I did, although I know procedures have changed somewhat in the meantime.

Good luck with it - it just seemed like so much work for something that's so tiny and yet so vital! Although, in all fairness, getting a SSN is annoying too.

owlfish
May. 17th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
Here's the info I was working from.

It says I should go in person. Then they will write me with an interview time. I wonder how many months this process will take? (I only want to be paid for one lecture's worth of work at this point!)
ewtikins
May. 17th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC)
I have two, would you like one of mine?

Le sigh. Good luck.
owlfish
May. 17th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
If only I could!
ewtikins
May. 17th, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)
More specifically, but less usefully:

I was here on a Working Holidaymaker permit for four months in 1999. I worked at a web company as an html monkey. They filled out lots of forms with a temporary NIN based on my birthdate, and Inland Revenue gave me a shiny National Insurance number.

I moved back to the UK in 2000, and took a job at a small charity. I made less than the tax threshold every year. The accountant who did the payslips for the charity did not know how to do the paperwork for getting the Inland Revenue to assign me a new number, and I understood the old one to be invalid. Every year my boss would tell me to get a National Insurance number already, every year the accounts/bookkeeping lady phoned the actual proper accountant and he gave her a number to call and she called that and they told her to tell me to call a random 0845 number, and every time I phoned it, there was no answer. Except once, when they told me to tell my employer to fill out the forms correctly (with my date of birth). It would have been nice to sort this as my work patterns were fairly sporadic, which meant some weeks I was paying tax but overall I shouldn't have.

When I took a job with an agency and explained all of this, they, um, filled out lots of forms with a temporary number based on my birthdate, and Inland Revenue gave me another NIN number.

At some point I managed to get through on the phone again and was advised to use the more recent number.

Anyone would think they don't want individuals to pay tax if they aren't working for a compnay large enough to sort out the paperwork for them.
owlfish
May. 17th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
Your tale of adventures in paperwork and frustration shows that at least it's possible to get an NI number; two even. Here I was worried about the bit where I prove I am who I say I am. In fact, it looks like my biggest worry may yet be getting in touch with them in the first place.

The website didn't mention calling any phone numbers for appointments. It just said to go in person. But how do I find an open office?
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owlfish
May. 17th, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC)
Tune in next time for the second exciting installment of "A Tale in which Nothing Happens"!
chickenfeet2003
May. 17th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
Way back in the paleolithic I was one of the youngest members of the last cohort who could legally leave school at 15. I had a paid vacation job shortly before I turned 16 and got me a shiny NI number. The next year when I got a job the PtB basically refused to believe that I could already have an NI number because I was too young. This despite having my stamped and filled out NI card from the previous summer. (In those days the NI card was a real thing to which the employer affixed a real sticky insurance stamp every week). They are basically a totally useless bunch of pillocks. I assume they work on the same principle as US Social Security. When they encounter a client who is so obviously useless as to be patently unemployable elsewhere, they hire them.
fjm
May. 17th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)
I know fastfwd had this issue last year. Contact her and ask.
henchminion
May. 17th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
Someone on my flist had a similar experience with an NI office in London not too long ago. When he finally got into the office, they told him he couldn't make an appointment in person.
austengirl
May. 17th, 2006 07:34 pm (UTC)
I managed to get one when I was in Edinburgh. It went relatively smoothly, I didn't have to wait that long between my appointment and receiving the number. They give you a temporary one in the meantime that you can use as needed. I believe I got the forms at the office itself.

Now, trying to change my address and marital status with the DWP is another matter. Jobcentre couldn't help and I haven't gotten through on the number they gave me. I should try again though and it doesn't have seem to affected anything taxwise yet.
pfy
May. 17th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
I wish you luck. I have such a number, but I am not sure where it came from or when. Possibly these things Just Happen if you're born here.

The best guide I have so far found for dealing with the various tentacles of the British Government is at the other end of this link.
my_tw0_cents
May. 18th, 2006 01:08 am (UTC)
Rargh that's so frustrating! I never did get a National Insurance Number--that was partly because I wasn't sure the length of my stay was enough for me to qualify, but also because I was just lazy. At least you are trying--hope it works out for you on the next try!
stormwindz
May. 18th, 2006 09:57 am (UTC)
It was two years ago... my memories are vague... I'm getting old...
I worked part-time for three years over here while at uni on a temporary NI based on my d.o.b. When I decided to stay on and start working full time I applied for a proper one, even though as an EU citizen I technically didn't need one to keep working. I did just walk into the the local job centre, they took details. It took three months for an appointment to come through, then I went in for an interview with stacks of documents in tow, and a week later my shiny NI card showed up in the post. I think the amount of paperwork was slightly complicated by the fact that at the time I didn't have a permanent address but was couch-hopping, and as well as convincing them I wasn't really, really homeless
(with some help from my uni welfare staff vouching for me), and that in Sweden you don't carry your birth certificate with you but a statement from the population register (which had to be translated into English)... and so on.

But mostly painfree.

:o)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )