HMRC issued over 1 million National Insurance numbers to non-UK adults last year

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readMay 28, 2023


Forget immigration statistics — the true number is much higher

The release of immigration numbers by the Office for National Statistics will cause uproar — and quite rightly. However, these numbers only tell part of the story.

In 2017 I researched and was the first to break the news about the number of National Insurance numbers that were being issued to non-UK adults, contrasting this with the much lower immigration figures being reported by Theresa May’s Home Office at the time.

In short, there was no way for the Home Office to explain why its numbers were so much lower than the number of non-UK people getting the right to work by receiving an NI number.

I have now obtained the latest figures and today I update MY previous research and bring readers some shocking facts.

Firstly, why are NI registrations (NINos) important?

In order to work legally in the United Kingdom or receive benefits you need a National Insurance number, issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). My summary contains statistics on National Insurance numbers (NINos) allocated to adult non-UK overseas nationals, covering the period from January 2020 to December 2022.

These DWP/HMRC statistics show a count, by nationality, of the number of NINos registered to adult non-UK nationals, irrespective of the length of stay in the UK.

The statistics are not a count of annual migration or the number of adult nationals currently residing in the UK. The statistics only show the nationality of the individual at the point of registration.

Tip of the iceberg?

It is vital to understand that the numbers I am reporting DO NOT include dependents of those applying unless they are applying for benefits. In other words, someone could register and that person’s income could then be supporting a large family.

Importantly the numbers I am reporting do not include those working in ‘the black economy’, who don’t pay taxes.

The highest number of non-UK National Insurance registrations (NINos) in history

  • Last year saw the highest number of NINos registered to adult overseas nationals annually
  • The figure exceeded 1 million NINos registered
  • This compares with 602,000 registrations in 2021 and 320,000 in 2020
  • The majority of registrations last year were to non-EU nationals at 892,488 (85%)
  • This compares to 146,382 (14%) EU nationals
  • Amazingly, 168,418 NINos were granted to nationals from Sub-Saharan Africa
  • The remaining 16,415 were — bizarrely — given to ‘unknown nationalities’

[Sources: The Dept for Work and Pensions (DWP). Data used is from the Migrant Worker Scan (MWS) sourced from HMRC National Insurance and PAYE service (NPS).]

EU free movement ends, Rest of World free movement grows

It is important to note the differing restrictions on NINo applications for EU and non-EU nationals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Registrations from non-EU nationals were less severely impacted, as postal applications were reinstated from late April to May 2020, whereas EU nationals could not apply until the latter part of 2020 as a result of Covid-19 restrictions disrupting face-to-face services.

Prior to this, since 2005 NINo registrations from EU nationalities were almost always in the majority.

A number of things have contributed to these changing trends, in particular, the transition of the UK leaving the EU. EU nationals have been subject to visa restrictions which will obviously have impacted the number of EU nationals registering. In addition, the UK providing ongoing support for Ukrainian and Hong Kong nationals and others requiring protection has contributed to the increase of registrations from non-EU nationals.

One interesting statistic came out of my research. The percentage of non-UK Nationals represented by the EU27 applying for NINos in 2018 was 66%. By last year this had fallen to 15%.

The Top 10 nationalities given NINos to work in the UK in 2022

  1. India: 257,153
  2. Ukraine: 103,134
  3. Nigeria: 102,412
  4. Pakistan: 53,919
  5. China: 36,478
  6. Romania: 35,962
  7. Bangladesh: 27,311
  8. Hong Kong: 25,367
  9. Zimbabwe: 18,041
  10. United States: 16,528

With each household comprising of at least 2.5 people, the numbers above suggest that the immigration figures are out of control. I have consistently stated over the past seven years that I do not believe the official population statistics or the official immigration statistics. I stand by this.

On Friday the Prime Minister, writing in the Daily Telegraph, announced that the government is ending the right of dependents of some classes of students to enter the UK. Whilst this is welcome I must say this is tinkering at the edges.

Only definitive caps on all the various categories of would-be immigrants will have any chance of reducing the explosion in numbers we have been witnessing. Unless Rishi Sunak gets a grip on this fast, then he “will be toast”, as Jacob Rees-Mogg put it when defending him at the recent Conservative conference.

This is not about xenophobia or racism

It is a simple fact that the country cannot support such a massive rise in its population without a correspondingly huge investment in the extra services required. For decades the United Kingdom saw a gentle flow of net immigration. Then along came “Call Me Tony” Blair and the rot set in. The numbers rocketed. He was followed by the likes of David Cameron and Nick Clegg, with Theresa May as Home Secretary.

This issue is becoming a powder keg across the country. HMG would do well to wake up, smell the coffee, and act hard and fast.

Now I will touch on the present problem we also have, I have covered this in previous articles so we will not dwell on it that much, however, we do need reminding.

It was in July last year 2022 that I noticed a report in a French newspaper that touched on the illegal crossings that we are seeing daily. It pays to keep tabs on other countries' newspapers, It is something I now do daily.

What caught my eye and it's the only time I have seen such a report in a French newspaper was the criminal conviction of three men for helping economic migrants to cross the channel.

It bought home and made it very clear that French law considers anyone crossing the Channel from France in Dingys without the relevant papers as criminal.

Because this is what happened.

The three men were sentenced to between one and four years in prison for aiding illegal entry or residence.

Did you notice something?

They were sent to prison in France FOR AIDING ILLEGAL ENTRY OR RESIDENCE

While British lawyers and charities are telling everyone these people are asylum seekers the French courts are saying they are nothing of the kind, they are saying they are criminals and they are breaking the law.

You can read the full story here most of it is translated from French into English.

Sources: HMRC | DWP ]



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.