New format NINOs? No they’re Temporary Reference Numbers (TRNs) – do not use!

There have been a number of questions circulating about new format National Insurance Numbers identified as such on letters to individuals from HM Revenue and Customs and also on P2 tax code notifications to individuals.

These ‘new numbers’ are in a different format to the traditional NINO.

Have NINOs changed?

Should employers use these new format numbers?

The answer to both questions is NO.

National Insurance Numbers (NINOs): Format and Security: What a NINO looks like

A NINO is made up of 2 letters, 6 numbers and a final letter, which is always A, B, C, or D.

It looks something like this:

AB 12 34 56 C

The number is individual and unique. It is not proof of right to work and is not compulsory to have one to work.

Those working in the UK should apply to the DWP for a NINO to be issued, however, during COVID-19 the application process is taking significantly longer.

What if the employees either doesn’t have one or doesn’t know their NINO?

All employees should give their NINO to their Employer if they have one to enter on their payroll records. However, the NINO is not proof of right to work, nor is it a requirement to have one to work in the UK.

If the employee can’t remember or find their NINO, the employer may be able to find it using the RTI NINO Verification Service. Employers need to keep a record of the employee’s details until the NINO is received, including:

  • full name
  • address
  • date of birth, and
  • gender

The employer may have to send RTI Submissions with the employees details to HMRC, in which case the employee’s NINO may be traced automatically. If the NINO is traced, HMRC NIC&EO will notify the employer of the NINO via RTI messages.

More information about employing people can be found at:

HMRC Temporary Reference Number (TRN)

Where an individual does not have a NINO or the NINO cannot be located, HMRC sometimes use a TRN for Individuals. The format of a TRN is 99 a9 99 99 (2 numerics, 1 alpha followed by 5 numerics).

The TRN is an HMRC reference number which allows the individual to pay tax/NICs it is not a NINO and the employer must not use them. A TRN will not allow the individual to access benefits and other services which use the NINO. The individual will need to apply to DWP for a NINO.

If a TRN as applied to the FPS submission, HMRC would reject the whole submission file as containing invalid values.

TN are no longer used

Some employers and pensions attempt to use a TN NINO where an individual does not have a NINO.

These are Temporary Numbers which were used by employers and DWP when they did not know an individual’s NINO many years ago.

Employers are no longer permitted to use TN numbers and they will not be accepted by RTI validations.

So what do you do if there is no NINO

If the employer does not know an employee’s NINO when they submit their FPS return, they should leave the NINO box blank, enter the employee’s date of birth and gender in the appropriate boxes, following the Employers’ Guidance.

Don’t make a NINO up. And refusing to employ someone who cannot locate or does not have a NINO (yet), but does have a right to work, could be considered an act of discrimination either directly or indirectly.

PAYadvice.UK 25/5/2021 updated 26/5/2021

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