UK legal right to work check list

Check a job applicant’s ‘right to work’ documents

You must check that a job applicant is allowed to work for you in the UK before you employ them.

  1. You must see the worker’s original documents.
  2. You must check that the documents are valid with the worker present.
  3. You must make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.

You could face a civil penalty if you employ an illegal worker and haven’t carried out a correct right to work check.

You must not discriminate against anyone because of their race.

Checking the documents

You need to check that:

  • the documents are genuine, original and unchanged and belong to the person who has given them to you
  • the dates for the worker’s right to work in the UK haven’t expired
  • photos are the same across all documents and look like the applicant
  • dates of birth are the same across all documents
  • the person has permission to do the type of work you’re offering (including any limit on the number of hours they can work)
  • for students you see evidence of their study and vacation times
  • if 2 documents give different names, the person has supporting documents showing why they’re different, eg a marriage certificate or divorce decree

Read the guidance on preventing illegal working in the UK for the lists of acceptable documents and how to conduct right to work checks.

Further checks

You have to do further checks if the person has restrictions on their right to work in the UK.

You’ll have to make additional checks on your worker if they have a limited right to work in the UK.

Taking a copy of the documents

When you copy the documents:

  • make a copy that can’t be changed, eg a photocopy
  • for passports, copy any page with the expiry date, applicant’s details (eg nationality date of birth and photograph) including endorsements, eg a work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK
  • for biometric residence permits, copy both sides
  • for all other documents you must make a complete copy
  • keep copies during the worker’s employment and for 2 years after they stop working for you
  • record the date the check was made

Make sure you follow data protection law.

If the job applicant can’t show their documents

You can only ask the Home Office to check your employee or potential employee’s immigration employment status if:

  • you’re reasonably satisfied that they can’t show you their documents because of an outstanding appeal or application with the Home Office
  • they have an Application Registration Card
  • they have a Certificate of Application that is less than 6 months old

The document must state that the work that the employer is offering is permitted. Many Application Registration Cards and Certificates of Application don’t allow the person to work.

Contact the Home Office

Contact the Home Office if you need more help.

Sponsorship, Employer and Education helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 4699
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm
Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
Find out about call charges

Application questions as a business (or representative) or a Tier 1 investor:

Business helpdesk

Application questions if you’re an educational provider or Tier 4 sponsor

Educators helpdesk