Working in the UK

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Working in the UK

Working in the UK is a great way to immerse yourself in the country and travel around without the pressure of spending too much without earning. It’s also a great way to explore the fun to be had in slow travel – you’ll make more friends, learn more about the UK culture and get to see the country.

Working in the UK

Anyone from the following countries does not need a working holiday visa for the UK and has a permanent right to work there.

  • The European Union
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

Anyone from the following countries may need to register under the Worker Registration Scheme – double check with your embassy before you make any plans. 

  • The Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

If you’re not from the countries listed above you'll need to apply for a working holiday visa. This is based on a points-based system.

If you're a citizen from any of the following countries and have a valid passport you can apply for the youth mobility scheme, which allows workers to live in the UK for up to two years.

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Monaco
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Korea
  • Taiwan

You must be aged 18-30 and have evidence that you can access at least £1,600 for living costs.

You can leave and come back to the United Kingdom at any time during the length of your stay under the youth mobility scheme.

To work in the UK

You'll need a:

  • National Insurance Number (NIN)
  • British bank account
  • Working holiday visa (depending on which country you're from)
  • National identity card from your country as proof of ID
  • Good sense of humour

Stick to the conditions of your visa and you can do any job you like in the UK. Minimum wage is more than £6 an hour and jobs such as waiting or bar work will pay tips on top. You'll have to pay tax on top of all earnings, usually at 33% after your first £7k.

Here are a few ideas on how you could work in the UK to get you started...

Working in hostels

Working on a hostel reception desk

One way of working your way around the UK while meeting loads of fellow travellers is to work in hostels. Many of the hostels in the UK allow you to work for a few hours each day in return for board and maybe a bit of extra cash on the side. It may be worth ringing ahead and seeing if there are any jobs available although most backpackers just turn up and enquire. This can be a very cost effective way to travel around the UK and meet loads of fellow travellers in the process!

Bar work or waiter/ess

From hip bars in London to tiny pubs in Stratford St. Mary, there are plenty of jobs available for bar and waiting staff across the UK. The work is always good fun and it's a great way to meet locals. Most bar/pubs require you to have some experience beforehand - you'll be much more employable if you know a Carlsberg from a Cosmopolitan.

Office temping

Office temping

Your best bet for finding work in larger towns/cities might be to sign-up to a temping agency. Businesses approach these agencies looking for temporary staff to work in call centres or offices for cold calling, data entry positions and administration. The agency then picks the most relevant people from its books and offers them the work. Make sure you ring your agency or pop in regularly - if you're fresh in their minds and seem keen then you're more likely to get work. You'll know whether work like this suits you or not: the pay isn't bad, and the hours are generally sociable (Monday to Friday, 9 to 5:30), but you might feel that you didn't go travelling to sit behind a desk!