Working in the UK
If you are a non-British citizen, you will need to check if the United Kingdom’s rules about working in the UK will affect you. You might want to know if you need a visa or work permit? Perhaps you want to improve your English skills to help with your job prospects. If so, the following information should help to point you in the right direction. Click on the links below.
Nearly all European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals are free to enter and live in the United Kingdom without the need to apply for permission. The EEA countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. Visit the UK Border Agency website to find out more about your rights to enter, live and work in the UK if you're a national of Switzerland or a country in the EEA.
I am from Croatia
Croatia became part of the EEA in July 2013. If you are a Croatian national you may need to get permission before you can start to work in the UK. Follow the link below to find out more.
I am from a country outside the EEA
You will need to have your skills assessed to see whether you are eligible to work in the UK. Check with the UK Border Agency for more information about the work-based categories, which are part of the UK's points-based system for immigration and whether you need a visa to work in the UK.
Do I need a National Insurance number?
To work in the UK you need a National Insurance number. You must apply for one as soon as you start work or as soon as you or your partner claims benefit. To be able to apply you must be 16 years of age or over and a resident in Great Britain (England, Wales or Scotland).
To apply for a National Insurance number, phone the Jobcentre Plus National Insurance number allocation service on 0845 600 0643. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday.
If you are already working but do not have a National Insurance number, you must get one. You can find out more about National Insurance, and how to get a National Insurance number, by following the link below.
I am self-employed
If you work for yourself in the UK, or set up your own business in the UK, you are 'self-employed'. You must register with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and pay your own tax and National Insurance.
UK Employers who want to employ workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must sponsor them under a points-based system. More detailed information is provided in the UK Border Agency guidance for sponsor applications.
Getting help to improve my English
Many organisations can help you with your English language. For example, there are training courses called English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Call us on 0800 100 900 to find an ESOL course near you.
Can I speak to someone in my own language?
You can speak to an adviser in your own language using our translation service. Simply call 0800 100 900 and tell the adviser which language you would like translated.
Do you have qualifications from overseas?
Some employers work with international candidates often. They have clear processes in place. They are familiar with international qualifications and comparing international qualifications and certificates.
Other organisations are less familiar with international candidates and overseas qualifications. To help employers, these are steps you could consider taking:
- give employers as much information as you can to help them make an informed decision about your job application
- present your documents as clearly as possible
- include your transcripts showing modules or classes taken and passed, and your marks and grades
- if possible, include marking schemes, so that your marks and grades are easier to understand and compare. This helps employers understand where you have done well
- include information on the content of your course, if possible, to give a clearer idea of what you have learned, and of your skills and knowledge
- if your qualifications are not in English, include translations if possible.
The easier you can make it for an employer to understand your qualifications, the more likely they will consider you for a job.
UK NARIC and Statements of Comparibility
UK NARIC is the United Kingdom’s designated national agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications – academic, vocational and professional qualifications. It performs this official function on behalf of the UK government.
UK NARIC is experienced working with international professionals, and has built a large knowledge base on international qualifications in the world. The UK NARIC Statement of Comparability is a document that can be used in support of your overseas qualifications.
It tells employers and professional bodies how your qualifications relate to UK qualifications and certificates.
It is not a compulsory document, but it can be specifically requested by an organisation, and in general the document can be of help when applying for jobs in the UK.
UK NARIC also offers other services useful to international jobseekers, such as English Language Assessments.
UK NARIC can offer telephone advice on the comparability of your qualifications – call 0871 330 7033.
Finding out about job vacancies
There are lots of different places to find job vacancies, including Jobcentre Plus, newspapers, the internet and recruitment agencies. Visit our section called Finding a job for more advice.