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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.

Employers' information

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.

Are my qualifications recognised in the UK?

You can find out what qualifications from your home country are equivalent to and recognised in the UK by contacting the National Recognition Information Centre. UK employers may need this information for some jobs.

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.


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