If you are an international student, there may be a limit to the number of hours you can work during term time. Learn more about the steps you need to take before working in the UK.

Permission to work

For international students, there may be a limit to the number of hours you are able to work during term time.

The sticker in your passport or your biometric residence permit should state this (e.g. 20 hours per week). It will also say if you are not allowed to work during your studies.

The limit does not include any hours spent on a work placement that is an assessed part of your course. It also does not apply during vacation periods, and before or after your course.

Find out more about working, permitted hours, tax and National Insurance on UKCISA.

Applying for a National Insurance number

If you want to work in the UK, you will need a National Insurance number. This is a unique reference number issued to you for your tax and employment affairs.

If you are moving to the UK and you have a biometric residence permit, a National Insurance number may be printed on this permit.

If not, you can apply for your National Insurance number by calling 0800 141 2075.

Inform the operator that you have a job or that you are actively looking for work. You will be asked some questions and you may be invited to bring some of the following documents to an interview:

  • Your passport or identity card
  • Visa (if applicable)
  • Residence permit
  • Birth or adoption certificate
  • Confirmation of your address
  • Payslips
  • A letter from your new employer.

What happens after your application?

It can take up to six weeks for your National Insurance number to arrive.

You are allowed to work before you receive your number if you can show your employer that you have applied for it and that you are entitled to work.

Student tax advice

Once you become employed, your employer will usually deduct tax and National Insurance contributions from your wages through a system called Pay as You Earn (PAYE).

How much you pay depends on your income.

For latest tax allowances and how to claim a refund if you've overpaid, see Student jobs: paying tax.