National Insurance for the Self-Employed in 2023/24

Nobody enjoys seeing deductions come out of their hard-earned cash, but paying National Insurance is one of the necessary evils of self-employment. The amount that you pay towards NI depends on how much you earn, and even how you earn it, such as through an employer or as someone who works for themselves.

Why do I need to pay National Insurance?

Making National Insurance Contributions, or NICs, counts towards your eligibility for some types of state benefits, and towards your state pension. If you don’t make the full amount of contribution each year, you might not be able to receive the full amount of state pension when you reach retirement age.

Do I need to pay National Insurance if I’m self-employed?

There are different types of National Insurance (NI), known as classes. These classes tell us who is making the contribution, what rate they must pay, and on what type of income. The type of National Insurance you pay on your self-employed profits is different to the NI contributions you make through an employer.

Types of self-employed NI
Type of NI How much is it?
Class 2 This is a weekly flat rate of £3.15
Class 4 Class 4 NI is worked out as a percentage of your profits from self-employment.

How much National Insurance will I pay if I’m self-employed?

NI is a bit different for self-employed people because rather than paying it on your income, you pay it on your profits. As a self-employed sole trader, your profits are what’s left after you deduct business expenses from the money you make on sales.

It’s an important point, because otherwise you’d end up paying tax and NI on money you didn’t actually get to keep! We’ll talk you through the NI rates and when you’ll start paying them.

How much can I earn before starting to pay self-employed NI?

In the 2023/24 tax year you’ll only start paying Class 2 and Class 4 NI when your profits reach the Lower Profits Limit (LPL), which is currently £12,570.


2023/24 National Insurance for self-employment
Threshold What you pay
£0 – £6,724 You won’t pay NI on your profits in this band, but you can choose to make voluntary contributions to fill any gaps in your NI record.
£6,725 Small Profits Limit

  • You won’t pay any NI on money you earn between this threshold up to the Lower Profits Limit
  • You will earn NI credits which go towards your entitlement for a state pension.
£12,570 Lower Profits Limit

  • You’ll pay Class 2 NI at a flat rate of £3.15 per week
  • You’ll start paying Class 4 NI at a rate of 9% on self-employed profits above this threshold
£50,270 Upper Profits Limit

  • You’ll pay Class 4 NI at a rate of 2% on the self-employed profits you make above this threshold

What happens to my National Insurance if I work for myself and for an employer?

Unlike tax, which is based on your total profits for the year, National Insurance is paid depending on how you earn the money.

In short, how much you earn from your employer might affect which rate of income tax you pay on your self-employed earnings, but it won’t impact your National Insurance. Employed NI and self-employed NI are separate!
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Elizabeth Hughes

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible.

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