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Joining as self-employed

In most cases, you can join NEST if you’re self-employed or the sole director of a company that doesn’t employ anyone else. To keep things simple, we’ll refer to both groups as ‘self-employed’ on this page.

When it comes to planning for your retirement, it’s a good idea to start by enrolling into a workplace pension. However, for those that are self-employed this not a legal requirement.

Joining NEST

You can sign up to NEST quickly and simply online as a self-employed person. At the first stage you’ll need to answer some questions to make sure you qualify. See our short self-employed checklist now to see if you qualify.

Contributing to NEST

As a self-employed person you’ll need to set up your own contributions to NEST. You can do this easily online by Direct Debit or debit card. Just log in to your secure online account and click on ‘Contributions’.

You can contribute as often as you like and all contributions will stay in your pot until your chosen NEST retirement date. You just need to make sure you add at least £10 each time.

You'll be charged additional tax if you exceed the lifetime allowance. If your contributions are over the annual allowance, but you don't build up more than the lifetime allowance, you may still be charged extra tax. Although most people won't exceed these amounts, you should still consider these factors when deciding how much you'll contribute into your self-employed pension.

Find out more about the government’s annual allowance and lifetime allowance.

What if you become employed?

If you join NEST as a self-employed person you can remain a member if you become employed later on. You can also continue contributing to your retirement pot. And if you start working for an employer that uses NEST, they can contribute to your existing retirement pot too.

If you already have a NEST account from a previous job before you became self-employed, you can continue to use this now you’re self-employed.

What if you employ other people?

If you’re self-employed and employ other people then the new employer pension duties will apply to you. In this case, you may want to sign up for NEST as an employer. You can find out more about your options in our self-employed checklist (PDF).

Set up your scheme

If you’re self-employed and don’t employ anyone else, you can create your self-employed NEST member account here.