Since the new UK state pension came into effect in 2016, we’ve had many questions about this.

To qualify for some sort of pension, you need to have made at least 10 years of UK National Insurance contributions (NICs) but you will only get the  full state pension if you have made 35 years worth of contributions.

However, you may be able to pay voluntary NICs to top up the years you have lived overseas. Each qualifying year on your National Insurance record after 5 April 2016 will add about £4.70 a week to your new State Pension. The exact amount you get is calculated by dividing the full state pension £164.35 by 35 and then multiplying by the number of qualifying years after 5 April 2016.

Which type of NIC should I be paying?

There are six different types of NIC, but only two which are voluntary: Class 2 and Class 3.

Expats who live and work abroad can make  Class 2 contributions.

To qualify you will need to have:

– worked in the UK immediately before leaving,


-have previously lived in the UK for three years in a row

– or paid three years of National Insurance.

The cost of voluntary NlCs is decided by Government annually, this tax year 2018/19 Class 2 national insurance contributions are £2.95 a week (£153.40 for a year).

What if I have missed paying in for a few years?

You can usually only pay for gaps in your National Insurance record going back six years.

That would currently mean that you would pay  £920.40 to add six years spent overseas as qualifying years to your UK National Insurance record.

You will be entitled to the state pension when you reach the UK state pension age. The UK State pension age is currently increasing from 65 to 66 by October 2020 and this will again increase to 67 in 2028.

How do I top up my British pension?


By clicking on this link you can create sign up details. You won’t need to do this if you already have a Government Gateway account (you will have one already if you do a UK tax return).

Once you have logged on to Government Gateway you will be able to check your NI record.

Before deciding whether to pay voluntary NICs, you should make sure that:

  • there are gaps in your NI record for which payment can be made
  • you know how much you need to pay
  • you understand the benefits of paying

If you’re unsure about any gaps in your national insurance record you should contact the National Insurance Helpline on 0300 200 3500 or speak to your financial advisor for more information.