Thursday, 18 September 2008

National Minimum Wage

The national minimum wage applies to nearly all workers and sets hourly rates below which pay must not be allowed to fall.
It is an important cornerstone of Government strategy aimed at providing employees with decent minimum standards and fairness in the workplace. It helps business by ensuring companies will be able to compete on the basis of quality of the goods and services they provide and not on low prices based predominantly on low rates of pay.
The rates set are based on the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission. The rates change on 1st October each year.
National Minimum Wage rates from 1 October 2007
Workers aged 22 and over - £5.52 per hour
Workers aged 18-21 - £4.60 per hour
Workers aged 16-17 - £3.40 per hour
Accommodation offset - £4.30 per day (£30.10 per week)
New National Minimum Wage rates from 1 October 2008
Workers aged 22 and over - £5.73 per hour
Workers aged 18-21 - £4.77 per hour
Workers aged 16-17 - £3.53 per hour
Accommodation offset - £4.46 per day (£31.22 per week)
To find out more:
see our revised National Minimum Wage Guide
read our information aimed at workers
view guidance specifically for employers
check or
For free confidential advice about the National Minimum Wage call the National Minimum Wage Helpline on 0845 6000 678. This is also the number to ring if you think you are being underpaid and wish to make a complaint. All complaints about underpayment of the National Minimum Wage are treated in the strictest confidence and callers may remain anonymous if they wish to do so.
Proposed changes to how the National Minimum Wage is enforced are being taken forward by the Employment Bill which is currently going through Parliament. Subject to parliamentary approval, the Government intends the NMW provisions to come into force on 6 April 2009.

Who needs a work permit?

The following categories of people can take up any lawful employment in the UK and do not need a work permit:

Nationals of EEA (European Economic Area) countries (the EEA comprises the 25 EU member states - Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic*, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia*, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary*, Ireland, Italy, Latvia*, Lithuania*, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland*, Portugal, Slovakia*, Slovenia*, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom – and also Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland)
Those with Indefinite Leave To Remain in the UK (Permanent Residence)
Those in the UK as the spouse of an EEA national
Those in the UK as the spouse of a work permit holder, Training Permit Holder, Sole Representative, Investor, Student, ancestry visa holder
Commonwealth citizens with ancestry visas (sometimes called patriality) – these visas are available to Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK. They should be applied for by the candidate at the British High Commission in their home country. They are usually issued for a period of four years; after four years in the UK the candidate is generally eligible for permanent residence.
Those with pending claims for Asylum in the UK (NB does NOT handle asylum applications)
Those in the UK on a visa as the 'partner' of an EEA national, Work Permit holder, Training Permit Holder Sole Representative, Investor, Student, Ancestry visa holder. These visas are issued in cases where the partners are not legally allowed to marry (for example because they are of the same sex, or because one or both of them are married to someone else) and have been co-habiting for at least two years prior to the visa application
NB Nationals of those countries with a (*) above must apply for a registration certificate under the Worker Registration Scheme within one month of commencing a new job in the UK.

In addition to these categories of people, nationals of European Community Association Agreement countries (Bulgaria and Romania) may come to the UK to set up in business and are exempt from the usual investment requirements.

UK Work Permit Guide

The most important thing to understand in UK work permits is that in the UK the employer applies for the work permit and the the work permit is granted for a particular employee. If you are an individual hoping to work in the UK, you cannot apply for a work permit. If you have a work permit for the UK, you can't change jobs without getting a new work permit.

The following are the most-frequently viewed pages in this section, and may help you find the answers to your questions:

The difference between a Work Permit and a visa
Do I need to get a UK Work Permit?
Obtaining a UK Work Permit
Alternatives to the Work Permit scheme
Work Permit application form

In addition, the following important and useful information:

How long will it take to get an employee on-site with a UK Work Permit?
Information for recruitment companies
Work Permit Duration and extension of the Work Permit
How do I apply for a UK Work Permit
Entering the UK on a Work Permit
What Data and Documents do I need to get a UK Work Permit?
Consequences of illegal employment
Spouses and Dependents of UK Work Permit holders
Employers' Liabilities

UK Immigration and UK Visa Services

The UK has introduced a number of new UK immigration, naturalization, UK visa, work permit and UK working visa categories in the last few years. The points based skilled immigration category the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), introduced in January 2002, proved to be very successful.

However, the HSMP has been replaced by Tier 1 (General), part of the UK's new five-tier points based system which will encompass all work, study, and training immigration routes into the country. People seeking extensions to their HSMP visa are now required to extend their leave to remain under Tier 1 (General) for General Highly Skilled Migrants. Since April 2008, applicants located in India have been required to file initial highly skilled migrant applications under the Tier 1 (General) rules. This was followed by the rest of the world on 30 June 2008 as the Tier 1 (General) scheme fully replaced the HSMP.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Temporary Workers

While temporary workers benefit from many employment rights, they usually have different working rights from ordinary employees. If you are a temp it's important to know your rights and the rules about the way agencies should treat you.

The sector is growing all the time. 1.2 million temporary workers go out on an assignment in the UK in a typical week, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the professional body representing the recruitment industry in the UK.

What is a temporary worker?
Temporary workers work through an agency which finds them jobs. The firm that's hiring the worker pays a fee to the agency, and the agency pays the worker's wages.

There are several advantages to being a temp, including being able to work more flexibly and getting the opportunity to try out different kinds of work in a relatively short period of time. However, temps usually enjoy less job security than workers on permanent contracts.

As a temp, you are covered by the national minimum wage, working time legislation, health and safety and some social security provisions.

People coming to work in UK temporarily need to check whether they need a work permit and/or a visa to work. Workers from EU countries have more rights to live and work in the UK than those from elsewhere. You can check this on the UK Border Agency website

For details of agency standards and your rights go to the DirectGov and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, websites

The Trades Union Congress is campaigning for better rights for temporary and casual staff.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Visa Informations for Students

The basic division is between European Economic Area citizens (European Union plus Iceland and Norway), people from other countries who do not need a visa to enter Britain (non-visa nationals), and people from countries who do need a visa before entering Britain (visa nationals).

The Home Office divides the categories as follows:

European Economic Area
If you are a national of a European Union country or are from Norway or Iceland you are free to enter the UK to study, live and work and you do not need a visa. European Union citizens face fierce competition from British students and also have to pay the same tuition fees of up to £1,000 a year depending on financial circumstances. Icelandic and Norwegian students have to pay full fees as international students, but do not need work visas and so can fund their course by working.

Non-visa Nationals:
Non-visa nationals are from countries that don’t require a visa to enter Britain, you can arrive with the necessary documentation and be issued the visa when you arrive. You need:

Proof that you have been accepted onto a full-time course at a UK school, college or university (totaling 15 or more hours a week).
A letter from your new school, college or university, on their official headed paper, to state that you have paid your deposit and/or your tuition fees.
Proof that you have the funds to pay for your study and living expenses. This could be in the form of travellers’ cheques in sufficient quantity to cover your expenses, a bank draft drawn on a UK bank, letters or bank documents from sponsors, or a combination of all these things. You will have to show that you will not have recourse to public funds that you can support yourself financially without relying on the British welfare state or by working to fund your studies.
If you are staying for longer than six months, your finances will be inspected much more rigorously. It is advisable to submit your documentation to the British Embassy/High Commission in your own country and get entry clearance (a visa) prior to arrival. Your status can still be challenged but you have the right to lodge an appeal and remain in Britain while your case is heard. If you were intending to be issued with a visa on arrival you could be sent back at your own expense. There are plenty of scare stories around, but this is unlikely to happen in practice unless you have done something that arouses suspicion. This might include travelling back and forth from Britain a number of times over a short period, appearing to have little money, or enrolling at a school with a reputation as a visa factory.

You can bring your partner/husband/ wife or children with you. However, they will require a separate student dependent visa, which they must obtain BEFORE they arrive (even though your own visa can be issued on arrival). To obtain this you will have to show that you can support them out of your own pocket. Remember that it can be very difficult to find accommodation for families and what there is tends to be expensive, so try and make arrangements before you arrive. Most universities can offer family accommodation, but space is limited. Be as organised in your arrangements as possible, as this will make you look more credible in the eyes of immigration officials.

You could also enter Britain as a tourist. In theory non-visa nationals can then apply to have it changed to a student visa without leaving the country as an in-country application. In practice this is not advisable as the immigration department is inherently suspicious of people who change the purpose of their stay while they are in Britain. You may succeed in getting your visa changed this way, but you will get a grilling in the process. Many people come to Britain on a tourist visa, and then look around for a school to enroll in. Be careful, because you could end up being deported if you are thought to have deliberately deceived the immigration department. The best thing to do is to apply for a prospective student visa in your home country. You will need to show that you have the finances to support your course and will be allowed to stay in the UK for a maximum of six months.

Visa Nationals:
Visa nationals need to get a student visa from their nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission before arriving in Britain. In order to get this you will need to show the following:

Proof that you have been accepted for a full-time course (15 or more hours a week) at a reputable UK college or university. If it is at a language school it is preferable for it to be an ARELS or British Council accredited school.
A letter from your new school, college or university, on their official headed paper, to state that you have paid your deposit and/or tuition fees.
Proof that you have the funds to pay for your study and living expenses. This could be in the form of traveler’s cheques in sufficient quantity to cover your expenses, a bank draft drawn on a UK bank, letters or bank documents from sponsors, or a combination of all these things.
Immigration officials prefer a bank draft as this is the most difficult to forge and can be checked with the issuing bank. You will have to show that you will not have recourse to public funds. The longer your proposed stay, the more convincing your financial credentials will need to be.
You will need to get your visa, and bring it along with all the above documentation when you enter Britain, as immigration officials may wish to see on arrival. If you have been given entry clearance in your home country this is usually sufficient. However, your right of entry may be challenged if immigration officials believe that there has been a change of circumstances or you have not disclosed, or have hidden, some relevant information. In this situation, you have the right to remain in Britain while you lodge an appeal.

If you entered the UK as a tourist you will not be able to get your tourist visa changed to a student visa in Britain. You will have to leave the country, and re-apply for a student visa before re-entering.

Additional Regulations for international students (immigration, fees):

Address for the British Council:
Education Information Services
Information Services Management
The British Council
10 Spring Gardens
London SW1A 2BN

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Study abroad in the UK - How to go about applying

Before you Apply
English Language Proficiency
Are you sufficiently skilled in English to understand and participate in lectures, seminars, tutorials and examinations conducted in English to study in the UK? Do you have evidence of your written and spoken English language ability? Most institutions accept a number of qualifications as providing evidence of competence, including the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This is an internationally-recognised system for testing English language skills in listening, reading, writing and speaking. It is recognised by universities all over the world and can also be used to support visa applications. The main alternative is the American Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
If you consider that English may be an area of weakness for you, think about taking a pre-sessional course. This could be an English Language Teaching course in your own country, at one of the many recognised UK language schools or at a UK university.
Academic QualificationsBritish Higher Education is selective at the point of entry – do your current or expected qualifications meet the likely requirements? Your local British Council office may be able to advise you, but you could start by visiting the Council’s Education UK website at:
You should also spend some time exploring the UK Council for International Student Affairs website at:
Life in Britain
Gather information about living in Britain from friends, family, students returning from the UK, institutional information, websites and your local British Council Office. Although Great Britain is a small island, there are considerable variations in climate, surroundings, cost of living, and population. The cultural and social environment could be very different from what you are used to.
Are there any religious, cultural or social reasons, which may inhibit you from studying in the UK?
Do you know what to expect from the British weather? The climate in the UK is moderate: summers are fairly cool and winters are quite mild. Despite what you might have heard, British weather is not all rain and fog - it is actually more comfortable, more varied and more interesting than that. What you can look forward to in the way of rain, sun, temperature and even daylight depends on where you will be living. In general, the west is wetter and milder than the east, and northern areas are noticeably cooler than southern ones. For more information visit the websites at: or
Are you intending to take any or all of your family with you? Have you considered the practicalities of your family accompanying you such as; availability of facilities, extra cost, education provision for dependants, their language proficiency or immigration arrangements?
The British Council can offer detailed guidance on these issues.
Do you know what the likely costs are? Are you able to provide a financial guarantee of your ability to pay your costs for the full duration of the course? Do you know that living costs vary from region to region? What is the length of your proposed course?
Do you qualify and have you applied for any scholarships to fund your study? You must be able to finance both your tuition and living costs for the whole course, airfare, initial accommodation cost, appropriate seasonal clothing and study expenses – information is available from each university or college, your local British Council and recently returned students (through the Alumni Association)
This may be provided by your chosen institution or by family/friends. Is it guaranteed for the duration of the course?
How do I know which UK institutions offer recognised degrees?
The UK Government has an official list of institutions that can award recognised UK degrees.
Beyond that, as we have suggested earlier, the British Council office in your home country should be your first stop for information on studying and living in the UK. The British Council’s website at: provides a wealth of information for anyone considering the UK plus links to local British Council offices.
By spending some time researching online, you can obtain current information about the course(s) that you are interested in (syllabus, teaching and examination methods), about the institution(s) where courses are offered (region, location, size, and facilities), and about your future prospects on successful completion of the course.
Most of the main UK universities have an international office, which can help and advise you.
Making a decision about your preferred choice of course and a shortlist of universities or colleges is the first step, and you are now in a position to make your application.
How to apply
For undergraduate degree level courses, you must apply to universities through a central admissions system called the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). The UCAS website has information specifically for international students and you can apply online.
For other courses, check the institution's prospectus for the correct way to apply and the application deadlines.
After you apply
There is a lot to be done and if your arrival in Britain is to be trouble-free you must make many practical arrangements and preparation in advance. Seek advice as often as necessary, and allow plenty of time to make arrangements.
Immigration Regulations and Documents
Request information from the local British Government representative and seek advice from your local British Council Office. Find out which documents you need to obtain and how and where to get them.
You can find out whether or not you need a visa, and how to go about applying for one, by visiting the website at:
Check what your visa (if you need one) allows you to do. Can you work in the UK, either during your course or during the vacations, to supplement your income while you study?
Accommodation at your chosen institution
Request accommodation, if you need it, as early as early as possible.
What do the quoted costs include? Food, heating and lighting, linen, vacations? If meals are provided does this include weekends?
Take advice on how and when to travel to Britain, taking into account the start date and pre-sessional training if applicable.
Finally, book your tickets, but only once you are sure you have a firm place.
Original article by: Chris HudsonBrunel University


UK qualifications are recognised and respected throughout the world. Your UK qualification will be a solid foundation for building your future, boosting your career and prospects for a higher salary. UK universities, colleges and schools will provide a vibrant, creative and challenging environment in which to develop your potential. Quality standards for UK institutions are among the best in the world. Universities, colleges and schools continually have to prove that their courses meet strict criteria. Many other countries are now trying to follow the example of the UK.

In an increasingly globalised world economy, people need special skills and qualities to succeed. Employers want employees who can think effectively, creatively and for themselves. This is an essential part of the UK learning experience. Institutions use a variety of teaching and assessment methods to encourage independence, as well as mastery of the subject.

The Study in UK section of our Directory aims to provide useful information and assist students in choosing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes as well as further education and vocational courses offered by academic schools, colleges and universities in the United Kingdom.

Study in UK also includes a good section on selected schools offering MBA and Business Programs.

The entry profiles include: description of courses and schools, contact details, application procedures, admission requirements, cost of studies, scholarships, grants, degrees/qualifications awarded and other practical information.

Life in UK. Living Expenses in UK.

Private Accommodation
It is important to remember, if you are using the lists of private rented accommodation provided by Student Housing Services, that although they try to secure a range of good quality housing at reasonable prices, the properties have not been inspected. You should not assume that listed accommodation is "approved accommodation". You should never accept accommodation without first seeing the property. When you find accommodation you may have to pay a deposit immediately of up to one month?s rent and also one month?s rent in advance (always ask for a receipt). You may also have to pay a deposit for gas, electricity and telephone services. You should therefore have available around ?800 for initial expenses such as deposit, rent in advance and the cost of temporary accommodation.

Your landlord or landlady will usually expect the rent on a fixed day, weekly or monthly in advance. Make sure you have a rent book or a receipt for the rent. If your landlord or landlady does not provide a rent book, buy one yourself (available from stationery shops) and ask them to sign it when you pay rent. A rent book may also list certain house rules (or these may be displayed elsewhere in the house). Check you understand these and can keep to them as they may form part of your contract of tenancy and are usually aimed at keeping the household running smoothly.

In self-contained flats, your rent will usually be payable monthly and your landlord or landlady is unlikely to live on the premises. Any rules you are required to keep will be written in the lease or agreement you have signed which is legally binding. The lease will usually be for specific periods and once you sign you are committed to renting the flat for that length of time. So study the lease carefully before signing, and if necessary take legal advice.

Money MattersBefore
coming to the UK you should organize your money to ensure you have enough at the start of your course and for the duration of your course. You will also need to investigate the best ways to bring money into the UK.

Most students will have to buy bedding, clothes and basic essentials a the beginning of their stay. London is in general, milder than other parts of the UK. The summer tends to be warm; winter is usually cold and damp; spring and autumn are somewhere in between. ?300 should be enough for additional clothing needs.

Entertainment Costs
London hosts a wide range of entertainment venues catering to all groups of people. Dinner out can cost from ?15 upwards. Cinemas in Central London cost around ?10. Clubs cost from ?8-?15. There are special discounts available to students so make sure you ask.

Travel Costs
The cost of traveling in London is dependent on where you are traveling to and how often you need to travel. Weekly underground passes cost between ?18.00 (or travel in central zones one and two) and ?35 if you are traveling between central and outer London. Bus passes are much cheaper. Excellent discounts exist for full-time students.

London is very well served by British Rail. Reductions are available on British Rail if you buy a Young Person?s Rail card, which is available to anyone under 25 years. If you are over 25 you are entitled to a Student Rail card if you are engaged in 15 or more hours of education a week. Both cards obtain a one third reduction in price on train tickets. These cards can be purchased from BR train stations. British Rail has a number of special offers. Tickets may be cheaper if you book them in advance. These are known as Apex fares. It is important to note that when traveling at peak hours, that is, before 9am and on certain trains from about 5pm to 7pm, tickets will be considerably more expensive. Traveling on a Friday and on certain other days throughout the year is also more expensive.

UK living standards outstrip US

LIVING standards in Britain are set to rise above those in America for the first time since the 19th century, according to a report by the respected Oxford Economics consultancy.

The calculations suggest that, measured by gross domestic product per capita, Britain can now hold its head up high in the economic stakes after more than a century of playing second fiddle to the Americans.

It says that GDP per head in Britain will be £23,500 this year, compared with £23,250 in America, reflecting not only the strength of the pound against the dollar but also the UK economy’s record run of growth and rising incomes going back to the early 1990s.

In those days, according to Oxford Economics, Britain’s GDP per capita was 34% below that in America, 33% less than in Germany and 26% lower than in France. Now, not only have average incomes crept above those in America but they are more than 8% above France (£21,700) and Germany (£21,665).

“The past 15 years have seen a dramatic change in the UK’s economic performance and its position in the world economy,” said Adrian Cooper, managing director of Oxford Economics. “No longer are we the ‘sick man of Europe’. Indeed, our calculations suggest that UK living standards are now a match for those of the US.”

Although many people will be surprised by the figures, Americans have long complained that average incomes have been stagnant in their country. One often-quoted statistical comparison suggests that in real terms the median male full-time salary in America is no higher now than it was in the 1970s.

Oxford Economics says that while the comparisons are affected by sterling’s high value against the dollar, they also reflect longer-term factors. “The UK has been catching up steadily with living standards in the US since 2001 – so, it is a well established trend rather than simply the result of currency fluctuations,” its report says.

It concedes, however, that a significant fall in the pound against other currencies would push Britain back down the ladder. It has assumed an exchange rate of just over $2 for the purpose of the calculation but in recent days the pound has slipped below that level.

The Oxford analysts also point out that Americans benefit from lower prices than those in Britain. With an adjustment made for this “purchasing power parity”, the average American has more spending power than his UK counterpart and pays lower taxes. (In the run-up to Christmas many Britons travelled to New York and other American cities to take advantage of the strength of sterling against the dollar and those lower prices.)

However, the British typically have significantly longer holidays than Americans as well as access to “free” healthcare.

The figures may be of small comfort to Britons worried about house prices and facing a severe squeeze on their incomes this year as a result of record petrol prices and rising energy bills.

Citigroup, which was the most accurate forecaster of Britain’s economy last year, predicts the slowest rise in consumer spending this year since 1992.

“After the credit-fuelled boom in domestic demand and asset prices, the UK economy now faces a hangover, with slowing credit growth, falling property prices and tightening lending standards,” said Michael Saunders, its UK economist.

Last week oil prices hit $100 a barrel, presaging a rise in petrol and diesel prices on the fore-courts. Npower, Britain’s fourth biggest energy supplier, announced that energy prices would go up sharply, raising the prospect of the average household bill rising above £1,000 for the first time.

America overtook Britain economically in the final years of the 19th century, during the so-called second industrial revolution, which brought mass manufacture and sharply rising prosperity to the United States.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Where the UK’s richest people live

Location, location, location. It's the mantra of prime ministers and estate agents alike. If you already own your own home then you would probably like to find yourself in one of the wealthiest areas of the country. If you are hoping to buy your first property then you probably want to avoid them.
But where exactly are the richest areas in the UK and what do people earn there?
There are 48 counties or boroughs in the UK with higher average earnings than anywhere else in the whole of the UK. There are no prizes for guessing that London scores highly here. In fact, London boroughs take eight of the top 10 places in the GMB union’s top-earning boroughs. The City of London comes top with an average salary of £75,587, a whopping 261% of the national average.
Tower Hamlets, no doubt boosted by trendy Wapping and Canary Wharf, comes in second place with average salary of £71,838. This figure then falls fairly sharply to £50,781 in the City of Westminster, £47,123 in Islington, £43,269 in Hammersmith and Fulham and £39.904 in Camden. Windsor and Maidenhead, then Bracknell Forest come next before two more London boroughs - Lambeth and Southwark. But the latter is still raking in 128% of average earnings with £35,984.
The last five areas to enjoy above average earnings are Manchester (£29,032), Hampshire (£28,716), Milton Keynes (£28,605), Oxfordshire (£28,480) and the City of Edinburgh (£28,386).
The 10 areas with the lowest average gross annual earnings are the isle of Wight (£21,325), Powys (£21,249), Torbay (£21,173), East Renfrewshire (£21,150), Ceredigion (£21,085), Rutland (£21,048), Denbighshire (£20,860), Scottish Borders (£20,756), Darlington (£20,550) and Moray where the average salary of £20,447 puts workers at just 72% of the national average.
CJ Brough, a spokesman for Payfinder, which produces similar figures says: “Most people have this idea that people put up with the rat race for the larger salaries, but ultimately look forward to moving to the country where they will be paid less but at the same time have lower living costs. We found that all the areas that had low living costs had low salaries too.”
She believes there is one region which seems to get the balance right - Scotland came third in the Payfinder Wealth Index despite its average salary falling below the UK average.
“Financially, you could say Scotland was an ideal place to live. You're not going to earn the top salary but you have low living costs,” said Mrs Brough.

National Insurance number allocation fast path process for employers

Employers who are applying for a work permit under the Business and Commercial Scheme (Tier 1 or Tier 2) should be aware of a new application fast path for employees who need a National Insurance number.

This new process now means that a postal National Insurance number application form can be completed by the employer and employee instead of visiting a Jobcentre Plus, Jobcentre or social security office for an interview.

A similar scheme is available for:

NHS professionals who are recruited from overseas and
certain EU nationals working in the UK for an employer using the work permit process and who are employed in categories compatible with work permit holders in the Business and Commercial Sector Tier 1 or Tier 2.
For more information on the fast path schemes contact:

Fast Path Internet Enquiries
CCU Admin Team
5th Floor
Portcullis House
21 India Street
G2 4PH
Telephone: 0845 641 5047 / 5048 / 5049
Fax: 0845 641 5037

NB: These contact details are for use by employers only for fastpath applications.

What happens after the interview?

If your application is successful, we will give you your NI number in writing as soon as possible after the interview. We will send you an NI numbercard later. If your application is unsuccessful we will write and tell you.

Remember - a National Insurance number is not proof of identity.

There is more detailed information about National Insurance numbers on the HM Revenue & Customs website

What types of evidence and information can I bring?

Here are some examples of the types of evidence and information we need. We cannot accept photocopies.

For advice about ordering a copy of a birth or marriage certificate, visit the General Register Office website.

General documents:

National Identity card
Birth certificate
Marriage or civil partnership certificate.
Full driving licence
Home Office documents
2 or more passports if you are of dual- or multi-nationality
Student-loan documents
Student identity card
Letter from your college, including course details
Mortgage or rental agreement
Residence or naturalisation documents
Adoption certificate
Employment documents:

A work permit
A letter from your employer
Your contract of employment
Details of any employment agencies you are registered with.
Evidence that you are actively looking for work
Certificate of incorporation
Memorandum of association
Articles of association
Services contract
Documents if you’re self-employed:

Letters from your accountant
Letters from your clients
A form or letter from HMRC about your self employment, for example a bill for your Class 2 National Insurance contributions.
Stock transfer form
If you have recently arrived in Britain after living outside Europe, you must bring any travel documents you have. These are documents that give information about your travel between countries. They include things like your passport, National Identity card or NASS 35 form (issued to people seeking asylum in the UK).

The leaflet How to prove your identity for benefit purposes (ISSPA5JP) gives more examples of this type of document. (144KB)
If you have any other documents that you think may help prove your identity or your right to work, please bring them with you.
If you do not have any documents you must still go to the interview.
You may be able to prove your identity with the information you give at the interview.

Get help with PDFs

What is an interview for?

At the interview, we will ask you questions about who you are and why you want an NI number. This information, and any official documents you bring with you, will help to prove your identity and, where applicable, your right to work. You may also have to fill in a form to apply for an NI number.
When we give you the date of your interview, we will tell you what information or evidence to bring with you. The information or evidence you need to bring depends on why you need the NI number. The list below might give you an idea of the relevant documents.
The interview will usually be with one other person unless, for example, you need an interpreter. Sometimes we may ask for your permission to let us keep your documents for a short time. We will give you a receipt for any documents you let us keep.

Applying for a National Insurance number

There is a process of checks we need to go through when you apply for an NI number. Firstly, we make sure you need an NI number. Secondly, we make sure you haven’t already got an NI number. If you need an NI number and you haven’t already got one, we will write and ask you to come to an interview.
We use this interview to check your identity and, where applicable, your right to work – to make sure you are who you say you are, that you are entitled to work in the UK (where applicable) and to protect your NI and social security accounts.

When and where should I apply for a National Insurance number?

You should apply for a NI number if:

you will be making a claim for benefit, or
your partner is claiming benefit for you.
This should be done through your local Jobcentre Plus office. You can find your local office on the Jobcentre Plus website.

You should also apply for a NI number if:

you have started or are about to start work
you are self-employed, or
you want to pay voluntary NI contributions and would benefit from paying them.
For these applications you should telephone 0845 600 0643 between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.

If you are hard of hearing, or have speech difficulties, call our textphone on 0845 600 0644

What is a National Insurance number?

A National Insurance (NI) number is a personal number used:

to record a person's NI contributions and credited contributions
because it is needed when claiming social security benefits.
A NI number should only be given to one person and must only be used by that person. There are circumstances when, by law, you must apply for a NI number

Cost of living in the UK and London

Living in the UK – particularly London – is expensive compared to many places in the World. The cost of living will of course depend on the individual situation (and tastes!) of each working traveller, but you still need to be prepared financially. Just because you’ve been working hard to save many thousands of your own currency, doesn’t mean it will be quite as many pounds! Check out a Currency Converter to get an idea of what your currency will be worth in the UK.

Generally, you should prepare yourself (and save accordingly) for the following costs while in London:

Food, Dining and Drinking
Initial Costs
While it’s important to be aware of the costs you will be facing as a working traveller, don’t let it put you off! As long as you plan carefully and think about cost-saving strategies the cost of living in England or the rest of the UK need not be prohibitive. In the UK, shared housing and utilising the excellent public transport networks are two significant ways to reduce your costs of living.

Also check out International Money Transfer to and from UK and Opening a UK Bank Account.

Average Cost of Accommodation in London
Flat-Share Rental per month One Bedroom Flat Rental per month
East London £290 - £390 (single), £430 - £600 (double) East London £650 - £750
West London £280 - £430 (single), £459 - £690 (double) West London £700 - £800
South London £280 - £500 (single), £350 - £650 (double) South London £600 - £700
North London £300 -£400 (single), £430 - £550 (double) North London £650 - £750

UK cost of Food & Drink
Average weekly grocery bill (including food, basic laundry and toiletry items for 2 people) £60
Average pub meal £6 - £10
Average restaurant meal £12 - £20
Pint of beer £2.50 - £3
Average bottle of wine £10
Average meal for two in mid-priced restaurant £40

UK cost of Transportation
Weekly Zone 1-6 Travelcard £41
Monthly Zone 1-2 Travelcard £86
Train trip to Edinburgh £110 (standard single)
Train trip to Cambridge / Brighton £17 - £20 (single)
Avg mid-sized car rental for a weekend £70
Return budget flight to Spain £120 - £150 (budget carrier)
Eurostar return ticket to Paris £125 (standard class)
Return flight to Ireland £50 - £60 (budget carrier)

UK cost of Entertainment
Movie £7-£10
West End Theatre £25+
Club/Pub Entry £5 - £20
Live music/concerts £10+
Chart CDs £8 - £12
New release DVD rental £3.50

Initial Costs
There are also some initial costs that will whittle your wallet down fairly quickly if you don’t plan accordingly, especially when it comes to setting up longer-term accommodation. Generally you should budget for the following:

Accommodation when you arrive: If you haven’t already organised accommodation for when you first arrive make sure you have enough money for hostel or hotel accommodation (from £11 upwards per night) or to give to mates who let you doss.

Bond and first month’s rent: This will be your most significant outlay. When leasing a flat or room in a flat-share bond can be up to 6 weeks rent and on top of that you will probably have to pay up to a month’s rent in advance. This could be as much as £1000 depending on the price of your rent.

Transport: Flat and job hunting can take a lot of trekking across the city on Tubes and buses. Make sure you have some cash for public transport or to purchase an Oyster card, see Getting around the UK.

Mobile phone: If you’ve brought your mobile phone from home you still may need to buy a SIM card or pay to have your phone ‘unlocked’ from your previous carrier. Avoid phone contracts if possible and opt for pre-pay calling. Be sure to put aside some cash to buy pre-paid top-ups; not being able to call back a potential employer because you have no credit is not a good look!

Internet access: You’ll probably be using the Internet for job hunting, searching for accommodation and staying in touch with family and friends back home. Internet cafes charge from £1 an hour, but allow plenty of cash for this as you’d be surprised how many hours you can rack up in these places.

Clothing: Hopefully you packed suitable clothes for the season you’re arriving in the UK and if you found room in your suitcase or backpack, suitable clothing for job interviews in your line of work. But, if sneakers won out over suits, make sure you have some pounds in your budget for interview and work-wear.

Eating and drinking: Your first few weeks are sure to be a blur of eating, drinking and socialising. Eating out in London isn’t cheap so try not to have breakfast, lunch and dinner (and those crisps with your pint) while out and about as it will be more economical to buy groceries and prepare your own meals.

There are of course ways of saving your hard earned pounds as a working traveller (you say frugal, we say sensible!) for more important things like skiing in the Swiss Alps and living it up in Ibiza. Here are some cost-saving strategies:

Utilise your student or youth travel card: You are entitled to many discounts if you have a student or International youth travel card. This includes discounted entry to museums, cinemas and clubs. There are also special deals and discounts associated with Oyster cards (see Getting around the UK), so keep it handy at all times. Remember, a pound saved on a movie ticket is a pound towards another pint!
Buy from Charity Shops: Walk down any High Street in London and you’ll be hard pressed not to see at least a handful of Charity Shops (op shops, or second hand shops). Make these your first port of call for any crockery, utensils or home wares for your pad. Most stock decent clothing and shoes too, so if you don’t have a suit for that all important job interview, you can pick up a bargain.
Keep your eyes peeled for specials: At home you may have cringed when your mate whipped out a ‘buy one get one free’ voucher, but when you’ve only a few pounds left in your wallet you’ll be cheering for specials. Check the back of your cinema ticket for discounts at nearby restaurants, take advantage of early-bird dining offers at restaurants you normally wouldn’t be able to afford and make note of happy hour times at every pub you pass.
Leave things till the last minute: If you’re working casually and can pack your bags at a moment’s notice there are some great last minute travel deals to be had. Check for flights, accommodation and package deals.
Book ahead of time: In slight contradiction to the above point, you can also save loads of dosh by booking your travels well in advance! If you know the best time for you to take off work or when your mates are free to travel, book your flights/trains and accommodation early, this is often when you will get the biggest bargains.
Watch out for swaps and freebies: The only thing better than something cheap is something for free! There are some kind souls in London who give away stuff they no longer need to struggling working travellers, you just need to be able to go and pick it up. From mattresses and couches to computers and tellies, there’s plenty up for grabs.
Join the local library: Once you’re settled in a suburb one of the first things you should do is join your local library. Many have free computers and Internet access and cheap (£1 - £3) CDs and DVDs for hire, not to mention guide books to borrow for all of your adventures abroad!
You can of course save even more money by living outside of London, as the cost of accommodation and day to day living expenses are significantly lower than the capital. Keep in mind though that your UK earnings may be lower (or higher depending on your line of work) and some people may find the lifestyle and travel options can be less vibrant and varied than central London. Of course, it’s each working traveller’s personal preference where they want to base themselves for what will be the adventure of a lifetime no matter what!

To gain a better understanding of just how far your pounds will go when you’re in the UK and when you get home (if you’ve been lucky enough to save some along the way) check out the OECD Purchasing Power Parities. Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) are basically a rate of currency conversion that equalise the purchasing power of different currencies by eliminating the differences in price levels between countries. The simplest way of working out your own PPP is to compare two identical products in two different country’s currency (the most common products used to calculate PPPs are Big Macs and Coca Cola, basically because you can get them everywhere) and then see how much you would have to spend to obtain the same quantity of the product. So have a look to see how many burgers your savings will allow, although we hope you’ll be slightly more adventurous on the food front while you’re a working traveller in the UK!

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