How do I check an employee's right to work in the UK?

Business owners can face civil penalties if you are found to be employing people without the right documentation. Fortunately, it's a simple process to check and we can show you how.

For anyone who starts work with you, it's a straightforward 3-step process to verify that they have the right to work in the UK. You must check before the person starts work with you, and if they have a limited right to work in the UK you will need to carry out follow-up checks. 

  1. Obtain the original documents 
  2. Check the validity of the documents - have they been tampered with? are the dates consistent with the person presenting the document? 
  3. Take a copy of the documents, record the date of the check - 

File your records carefully and remember to follow-up anyone whose right to work is temporary (e.g. a visa) and carry out a further check before the expiry date of the current documents. 

See also 'Who has the right to work in the UK?' 

What documents do I need to see?

The documents you need to check will depend on the employee's nationality.

  • For British, EEA citizens and Swiss nationals, usually the easiest document to check is the passport. If this is not available you can use any of the documents from List A in the detailed government guidance.  You do not need to carry out any further checks once you have established their right to work. 
  • For other nationals, you should ask to see their current Biometric Residence Permit. If this states that the holder has Indefinite Leave to Remain (is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK) you only need to check this once. If there is a restriction or time limit on their right to work, you must carry out a follow-up check before this date. 
  • The full information about acceptable documents and the checking process can be found here.
  • If they are unable to provide the appropriate documents, for one of the following reasons
    • they have an outstanding appeal, review or application with the Home Office
    • they have an Application Registration Card
    • they have a Certificate of Application that’s less than 6 months old
    • they’re a Commonwealth citizen who started living in the UK before 1988
    you can check their right to work using the  Employer Verification Service. If you receive a Positive Verification Notice, this will be valid for 6 months and you must carry out a follow-up check. 

Conducting an online Right to Work check
If the employee has a 'share code' you can do an online check by using the government's online service. Use the link or search ‘View a job applicant’s right to work details’ on gov.uk. 

This is a relatively new service and currently only supports checks in respect of people with:
• a biometric residence permit;
• a biometric residence card; or
• status issued under the EU Settlement Scheme