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Am I eligible for low earnings exception on NI contributions?

At what stage does a self-employed person have to start paying National Insurance?

I'm an employee earning £23,000, but I do some freelance work on the side. I've registered as self-employed and get National Insurance bills from HMRC but my extra earnings are only about £2,000. I've been told there is a low earnings exemption for NI contributions. Am I eligible for this on my freelance earnings, or does my salary from my full-time job put me over the threshold?

An HMRC representative writes:

You pay national insurance contributions (NIC) from your salaried job. For your freelance work, provided your net profit from self employment is less than £5,315 (11/12 tax year) then you can apply for the small earnings exception (SEE). This means that for your self employed job you will not have to pay the Class 2 national insurance that you have been billed for by HMRC.

If you have paid these bills, then you may be eligible to seek a refund by writing to the NI Office and asking for one.

Applications for SEE are made by completing a form CF10 which you can download from Only your income from self employment is taken into account when we look to see if you are eligible for exemption. We do not include your earnings from employment when looking at SEE.

*Write to HMRC at the address below or visit HM Revenue and Customs NationalInsuranceContributionsOffice DefermentServices BentonPark View Newcastle upon Tyne NE98 1ZZ

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