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Proof of Identity: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN HL8489, tabled on 25 September 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have stopped issuing (1) National Insurance numbers, and (2) other documents required to prove identity, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and if so, what measures they are putting in place to allow this service to resume.

Answered on

2 October 2020

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) continues to allocate National Insurance Numbers (NiNo), however, at present this service is currently limited to specific customer groups.

On 17 March, due to COVID-19, the face-to-face interview process for NINo applications was suspended, this was then extended to all employment inspired NINo activity, on 25 March. The suspension of this service enabled DWP to deploy the people engaged in this activity to support the processing of the substantial number of requests received for financial support for citizens impacted by COVID-19.

Applications for those requiring a NINo for the payment of Social Security benefits has continued throughout the pandemic.

On 1 June a limited service was reinstated for NINo applicants, requiring a NINo for employment purposes, who did not need a face-to-face interview to verify their identity.

When applying for a NINo, all applicants are required to have their identity verified. Where applicants have had their identity verified by another UK Government Department, primarily the Home Office as part of their visa application, their application for a NINo can be dealt with by post.

However, for those who have not had their identity verified, primarily UK and European Union/European Economic Area nationals, the process requires them to attend a face-to-face interview with DWP. During the face-to-face interview, the applicant will be asked to present photo identity documents such as a passport or National Identity Card, issued by their country of origin, which is then checked for authenticity using specialist document examination equipment.

DWP is currently working on a digital solution that will reduce the length of the NINo interview and will enable the reinstatement of a shortened face-to-face service. This service is expected to be available by mid-October, but will be to a limited number of applicants (initially 550 a day), as the digital solution is tested with the expectation that it will be available to all applicants later in the year.