Getting a National Insurance Number – or just NINo – is an important task for settling in the UK. To some reason, I was accidently thinking that my employer would organise the NINo for me. Especially as I have not yet received any reminder for providing the NINo. But after my February payslip has not shown any NINo, I got suspicious and double-checked with HR. And surprise, surprise: I have to apply for a NINo myself.
As a man of action, I immediately called the hotline to book an appointment with the Jobcentre Plus. Well, not at the first attempt. It is worth mentioning that the number gratefully provided by the HR hotline (again a call centre disaster) was not up-to-date and thus not working. However, in the world of internet that was not able to stop me. The very friendly lady on the other side of the line was carefully taking all the details she needed from me and finally providing me with an appointment only 3 working days later and a reference number. The details were to be confirmed by letter within the next 3 working days. The careful reader will recognise that this might be a bit tight. But never mind. I had the details written down.
Eventually, I turned up on a rainy Wednesday (without any confirmation letter in my bag) and had my first experience with English Authorities. As I have not expected overwhelmingly extraordinary service, it was quite a funny experience. Especially with the stories of Hanna in mind, I was well prepared.
First when I arrived, I recognised a lot of people standing in front of the door. But I could not guess whether they are queueing or waiting for something else. So I was directly entering the Job Center and was rudely stopped by a security at the entrance asking me for my appointment time. As I was only 10 minutes early, I was gratefully allowed to enter and join the queue within the building. After a few minutes, two member of staff turned up an started registration. This happened in a quite direct though very non British manner. The commanded to neatly queue one after another and if not waiting for being served to leave the building. After that we were asked to complete the registration forms (carefully copied from a template rather than properly printed) without further explanation. The tone was always harsh and it felt a bit like waiting for being imprisoned.
In exchange for the registration form and after a checking whether everyone has turned up at the expected time I was issued with a ticket with the waiting number and asked to go to the first floor. Probably elsewhere in the world, authorities use ticket machines automatically providing tickets upon request. However, not at the Jobcentre. Self-made and reusable tickets have been produced and laminated to make them long lasting. I reckon this is just for environmental reasons. To somewhat balance out the big amount of plastic waste produced in this country.
Eventually, I was called by my – I assume they are called like at HMRC (tax authorities) customer relationship manager. He seemed to be quite confident about his job asking me all relevant questions. I haven’t found out why, but to some reason, he manually wrote a lot of my details on the application form although they were already in the system from my call with the hotline. But never mind. We had a nice chat about renting in London, the differences to Germany (apparently he had a friend who lived in Berlin a while ago) and BREXIT.
As final step of the process, I was provided with a reference number and advised to wait 2 to 4 weeks until my NINo arrives. I am already excited to see, whether I will actually receive my NINo within 4 weeks.
By the way, half week after applying for the NINo, I received a reminder from I employer to provide the NINo. Good timing!