Work While You Study


EEA and Swiss nationals are allowed to work in the UK without any restrictions on the number of hours or type of work they can do. Spouses and children of EEA citizens living in the UK may also work in the UK without any restrictions.

The EEA consists of:

Austria, Belgium, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden & UK

Nationals from Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic are required to register with the Home Office 'Worker Registration Scheme' as soon as they find work. Some people do not have to register. See the International Student Adviser for more details or click here.


1. Long-term Students

Most students are given a ‘restriction’ stamp in their passports which means you are allowed to work provided:

  • You do not work longer than 20 hours per week during term-time (This time restriction does not apply to students on a work placement, which is a necessary part of their course)
  • You do not engage in business, self-employment or as a professional sports person or entertainer
  • You do not fill a permanent full-time vacancy

You can get a letter from the International Student Advisory Service confirming that you are allowed to work under the above conditions. You should not work over 20 hours per week during term time. If you do, you could be sent home.

2. Short-term Students

Students on courses lasting 6 months or less are usually given a ‘prohibition’ stamp in their passports; unless they have specifically said that they wish to undertake part-time work in the UK. If you have a ‘prohibition’ in your passport, you cannot work legally unless you get it changed to a restriction. The International Student Advisory Service will assist you with this.

The consequences of breaching these regulations can be very serious. It is a criminal offence which can be penalised on conviction with a fine of £1000 and/or up to six months imprisonment. The offence can also lead to deportation. There are also serious implications for the employer, as it is a criminal offence to employ a person whose immigration status prohibits him/her from working in the UK.

If you do request permission to work it is important that the reason you give for wishing to work is to gain work experience and not because you need the earnings to support yourself. It is one of the conditions of your stay in the UK that you have sufficient funds to support yourself.


When you start work you will be asked for a National Insurance (NI) number. This allows the employer to deduct National Insurance contributions which everyone who earns over a certain amount every week has to pay.

If you have not worked before, you will not have a NI number, but you do not need one to start work. You cannot get a NI number before you have a job, but once you have started work, you must apply for one.

To apply for a NI number you will need to telephone the Helpline on 0845 6000 643.  They will discuss your application with you and then make an appointment for you at the local office to apply for a NI number.

When you telephone you should have with you:

  • your passport with your student visa stamp
  • proof of your Swansea address (from the Academic Registry)
  • a contract or letter of employment stating the number of hours you are working, the hourly rate and the duration of the employment
  • your up-to-date police registration certificate, if you are required to register with the Police

You will normally be given an appointment about 6 weeks later. Take all the documents listed above with you.

It can take several weeks for your NI number to come through. In the meantime, you are allowed to work and you should ask the Benefits Agency to give you a letter to confirm that you have applied. Your employer can deduct contributions on a temporary number while you are waiting.

You may find that an employer tells you that you cannot be employed without a NI number. There is no legal requirement to have a NI number before starting work so an employer has no right to refuse to employ someone who does not have one.

National Insurance Contributions

If you are employed, your employer will deduct contributions from your wages before paying you. However, you will not be liable to pay contributions if you earn £97 per week or less in the 2006/7 tax year. If your earnings are more than £97, you will pay 11% on money earned over that sum, up to a maximum earnings limit of £645 per week.


You will be liable to pay UK Income Tax on the same basis as UK residents. There are no special exemptions for students, except that if you are only working during the vacations and you do not expect to earn over a certain limit, your employer can give you a form P38(S) so that tax is not deducted.

Personal Allowances and Tax Rates

Everyone has a Personal Allowance which is the amount of tax-free pay they can earn. For the tax year April 2006 to April 2007 the basic personal allowance is £5035. Anything earned over this amount counts as taxable income.

Tax is charged at three different rates. For 2006/7 these rates are:

Starting rate: 10% on the first £2150 a year of taxable income

Basic:                         22% between £2151 and £33300

Higher:                        40% over £33301.


If you are working for an employer, they will deduct the tax from your pay under Pay as You Earn.

You get an equal proportion of your personal allowance every week or month, depending on how often you are paid. You get paid tax-free until you reach £5035 and then start paying tax.

Tax Codes

When you start work, you will be asked for your P45. This is the Inland Revenue form showing how much tax was deducted in your last job. If you have not worked before, you should ask your employer for form P46 which will enable you to get the correct tax coding.

The usual tax code for a single student will be 503L (this will appear on your wage slips).

If you have the tax code 503LX, 503L1 or BR, it means you are on emergency code while your proper tax code is being sorted out.

If you have more than one job, you can apply to your tax office to have your tax allowance split between the jobs, otherwise you will only get your tax free pay on one job and will pay full tax on the other/s.

If you only work during the vacations, you can ask your employer for form P38(S). This allows you to be paid without deduction of tax. If you work during term-time, you cannot apply for this concession.

Tax Refunds

If you were working before you came to the University, but do not intend to work again in the current tax year, you may get a refund of any overpaid tax. You should contact the tax office which dealt with your last employer. You will need to send in form P50. If you are claiming a refund at the end of the tax year, send in your P45 or P60 (this is the form employers give at the end of each tax year to show how much tax has been paid).

Further Information

You can get free leaflets and further advice from the Tax Office at HM Revenue and Customs, Ty Nant, High Street, Swansea SA1 5AP or by telephoning 0845 302 1471.