International Students and Employment



If you have a current Tier 4 (General) visa then you may be allowed to work whilst you are studying. There are strict rules about the type of work you can do and the number of hours you can work each week. However not every visa will allow you to work during your studies. For more information on this please contact International Student Support.


A National Insurance number (NINO) is your personal account number for the UK social security system.


The number makes sure that the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded on your account. Every National Insurance number is different. It is made up of letters and numbers eg QQ 12 34 56 A.


National Insurance Contributions


The Inland Revenue collects National Insurance contributions. They go towards benefits such as a state pension, unemployment benefits and funding the National Health Service. 


When you need a NINO to work in the UK


If you intend to work while studying in the UK any employer will require you to provide them with your NINO. This allows them to pay your wages and make any applicable tax/NI deductions. If you are a national of another country you will need to apply for a NINO. Most employers will require that you have obtained your NINO or provide evidence that you are in the process of applying for it before you can start working.


How to get a NINO


To obtain a NINO you must be over 16 and resident in Great Britain or Northern Ireland. You will need to apply for your NINO through the government agency Job Centre Plus. Phone Job Centre Plus on 0345 600 0643 to start the application process. This telephone line is open 08:00-18:00 Monday-Friday. You will need to provide the following information:


  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Full UK address and postcode
  • A contact telephone number
  • Country of origin
  • Current visa status
  • The date you entered the UK
  • Confirmation that you are either working, have been offered a job, or are actively seeking work


You will be told whether you need to attend an interview or submit a postal application. EU nationals and international students that have extended their visa within the UK are required to attend an interview.


International students holding an entry clearance visa in the form of a sticker in their passport (issued in their home country) or an Entry Clearance Biometric Residence Permit are required to make a postal application.


The following documents are required to support your NINO application:


  • Proof of your identity eg passport
  • Evidence that you are either:
    • working e.g. payslips
    • have been offered a job eg letter from your employer/employment contract
    • are actively seeking work eg evidence of job applications or interviews attended
  • One official document as proof of your UK address eg utility bill/bank statement/accommodation contract


Being issued with a NINO is not in itself permission to work. Ensure that you know whether you are allowed to work and the restrictions you are subject to before applying for a NINO. 


Income Tax


Income Tax is paid by everyone who works in the UK. This includes students who earn over a certain amount during the tax year, which runs from April to April.


Whether or not you have to pay Income Tax depends on how much you earn and not on the number of hours you work. 


Everyone can earn a certain amount of money in each tax year on which no tax is paid, this is called your personal allowance. If your earnings are below your personal allowance then you do not have to pay Income Tax. If your earnings are above your personal allowance then you will pay Income Tax on the difference. 


Find out more about Income Tax.


National Insurance contributions


If you want to work in the UK, you have to register for a National Insurance Number and pay National Insurance contributions. These are calculated as a percentage of your gross pay.


Student Advice
029 2078 1410