Documents you need before you can work in the UK

To visit the UK you may need a visa. If you want to work here you may need a work permit. You may also have to register with the UK Home Office UK Border Agency (UKBA) while you are here.

On this page:

Visas

If you are not a British citizen or a European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, or a Swiss national, you may need a visa before you can visit the UK.

You can apply for a visa at a British Overseas Mission in your own country. If you are approved, the visa will be put in your passport.

Having a visa does not always mean you can work in the UK. If the visa says 'prohibited' on it you will need a work permit to work in the UK.

Find out if you need a UK visa and how to apply on the British Government website for visa services (Opens new window)

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Work permits

You don't need a permit to work in the UK if you are any of the following:

  • a British citizen
  • an EEA citizen
  • a Swiss national

EEA countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, 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 and the UK.

If you are from another country you will need a work permit before you can work in the UK.

You can't apply for a permit yourself - your employer (the person you work for) in the UK has to apply for you. How long your permit lasts depends on the work you do and the type of permit.

Find out more about work permits on the Home Office UKBA website (Opens new window)

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If you are not an EEA citizen or Swiss National but are highly skilled

If you are highly skilled but not an EEA citizen or a Swiss National and you want a permanent job in the UK you will need to apply under a points-based system. The points-based system for highly skilled migrants does not apply if you are applying for a temporary job.

The points-based system for highly skilled migrants - find out how it works and who it applies to on the Home Office UKBA website (Opens new window)

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If you are from Bulgaria or Romania

If you're from Bulgaria or Romania you will usually need to get permission before you start work in the UK.

Find out more about living and working in the UK if you're a Bulgarian or a Romanian national on the Home Office UKBA website (Opens new window)

If you are self-employed you must contact HM Revenue & Customs immediately to register for tax purposes. There is a fine for late registration.

Find out more about working for yourself in the UK and how to register for tax

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If you are a student

If you're an international student you may be allowed to work here when you're studying.

If you have a student visa you can work here:

  • outside term time
  • up to 20 hours a week during term time (but you can work more than 20 hours if the work is part of your course or is an internship)

If you do work, you can't:

  • provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer
  • take a permanent, full-time position
  • run a business
  • work for yourself (self-employed)

More about studying in the UK on the Home Office UKBA website (Opens new window)

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More useful links

Working in the UK - information for EU citizens on the Home Office UKBA website (Opens new window)

Information for UK jobseekers and employees on the GOV.UK website (Opens new window)

Working for someone else (employed)

Working for yourself (self-employed)

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