National Insurance for the self-employed

National Insurance

If you are self-employed you will normally pay class 2 National Insurance and class 4 National Insurance.

The self-employed have their own system of paying and levels of contributions (, but not necessarily the same benefit entitlements ( ).

Class 2 National Insurance

Once you start self employment you become liable to pay Class 2 National Insurance.

Most people will pay class 2 National Insurance along with class 4 National Insurance and income tax (in January self-assessment payments). People with profits of less than the Small Profit Threshold will not have to pay any class 2 National Insurance. They will not need to claim an exemption in advance.

In some cases, you may wish to voluntarily pay class 2 National Insurance. This can be done on the self-assessment tax return.

You may need to consider making a voluntary payment of class 2 National Insurance in advance, even where your profits are over the Small Profit Threshold. This is likely to apply if you want to claim Maternity Allowance before the usual self-assessment payment date for the tax year.

National Insurance is payable based on the level of your business profits. See the website for registering on-line at or contact the Newly self-employed helpline 0300 200 3504.

There are special rates of Class 2 National Insurance for share fishermen and volunteer development workers. For details see the Share Fishermen and Volunteer Development Workers pages on the HMRC website.

Do I have to pay Class 2 National Insurance?

Unless your profits from self-employment are below the threshold you will have to pay Class 2 National Insurance.

Even when you do not have to pay class 2 National Insurance,  you may wish to pay Class 2 anyway in order to preserve your pension entitlement and entitlement to certain other State Benefits. If your profits are over the small earnings exception level / Small Profit Threshold, you must pay Class 2 National Insurance.