Relocations FAQs: What is National Insurance & what is UK Tax?


Are you a Grad, Primary or High School teacher looking to make the move to teach in the UK?

Making the move can sometimes have you feeling that you have more questions than answers, especially when it comes to different tax systems! If you’re wondering how to set up your National Insurance number and how the UK tax system works, never fear, Tradewind are here!

If you have a question that you would like an answer to that doesn’t feature below, send an email to

What is National Insurance?

The UK government uses a National Insurance (NI) number as a unique identifying number to track your taxes and national insurance contributions. Your National Insurance contributions are paid into a fund, from which some state benefits are paid including state pension, statutory sick pay or maternity leave.

You should apply for an NI number when you arrive in England. Please be aware that this number is separate from your tax code. 

You don’t need an NI number to start work or to be paid. However, you should apply for one as soon as possible as it can take several months to receive one.

How to obtain your NI number:

  • Call Jobcentre Plus to apply for a National Insurance number
  • Jobcentre Plus will send you an application form or invite you to an interview
  • Please let us know once you’ve obtained your NI number so we can ensure your payroll information is accurate.

Jobcentre Plus application line:

0345 600 0643 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

What is UK tax?

Taxation in the UK involves payments to the central government agency; Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and this is who you’ll receive letters and information from once you start working.

For UK income tax, which you pay when you start working, a working tax year starts from 6th April and runs until 5th April the following year. Your tax code will determine the rate you’ll need to pay and this will be automatically taken from your paycheck.

The rate of income tax a person must pay depends on how much of their earned income is above their personal allowance in the tax year. The personal allowance is currently £12,500 per tax year.

If you earn up to £43,000 in a tax year then your tax rate is 20%, which is only applied on earnings above the personal allowance, if you earn above this then 40% tax is paid.