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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.

A workplace pension is a good way to start planning for retirement, which is why the government introduced auto enrolment. This process makes it a legal requirement for every UK employer to put certain staff into a pension scheme and pay money into their pots. However, self-employed workers fall into a grey area as it's up to them whether they join a pension or not.

Joining Nest

It's quick to sign up online, you just need to answer some questions to make sure you qualify. Take a look at our self-employed checklist to see if you're eligible.


Self-employed checklist

Self-employed checklist (PDF)

Paying into your pot

As a self-employed person you’ll need to set up your own contributions through your online Nest account. You can do this by Direct Debit or debit card.

You can contribute as often or as little as you like as long as you pay at least £10 each time. All contributions will stay in your pot until your chosen retirement date. We'll also claim basic rate tax relief on any contributions you pay and add this to your pot.

How much can I contribute?

You can save as much as you like into your Nest pension pot, there are no restrictions. However, when you're deciding how much you'll contribute you should be aware of the two rare circumstances when you may be charged additional tax. This could happen if the value of your pension pots exceed the lifetime allowance or if your contributions are above the annual allowance. It's a good idea to be aware of these limits even though most people will never go over them.

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

What if your circumstances change?

You can keep your Nest pension pot whether you stay self-employed or if you decide to work for someone else. You'll be able to keep adding to it, whatever your employment status. And if you start working for an employer that uses Nest, then they can contribute to your existing pot too.

If you already have a Nest account from a previous job, you can continue to use this and contribute as a self-employed person.

What if you employ other people?

If you employ other people then the new pension duties apply to you, so you may want to sign up for Nest as an employer. You can find out more about your options in our self-employed checklist.

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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.