Check your employees are entitled to work in the UK. You may be prosecuted if you employ illegal workers.

You must not discriminate against anyone because of their nationality.

Check that:

  • the documents aren’t expired (except UK passports, which can be expired)
  • photos in the documents look like the employee
  • the date of birth on the document seems consistent with the employee’s appearance
  • the visa covers the type of work they’ll be doing (including any limit on the number of hours they can work)
  • if 2 documents give different names, the employee can give a good reason for this - eg marriage or divorce

Read the guide for employers on preventing illegal working in the UK for examples of documents you can use.

Copying your employee’s documents

  1. Make a copy that can’t be changed, eg a photocopy, a scan or a recordable CD that can’t be overwritten.

  2. For passports, copy the front page and any page with the employee’s details on, including endorsements, eg a work visa or certificate of entitlement to right of abode in the UK.

  3. For biometric residence permits, copy both sides.

  4. Keep copies for 2 years after the person stops working for you.

Make sure you follow data protection law.

Birth, adoption, registration and naturalisation certificates

Birth, adoption, registration and naturalisation certificates are only proof of eligibility to work in the UK if they were issued in the:

  • UK
  • Channel Islands
  • Isle of Man
  • Republic of Ireland

A certificate on its own isn’t proof of eligibility to work in the UK. You must also ask to see a document that includes the employee’s National Insurance number, eg a P45 or P60.

Birth certificate

A birth certificate must show the name of the holder and that of at least 1 of their parents. The certificate must be an original (not a copy).

Adoption certificate

An adoption certificate must show the name of at least 1 of the adoptive parents.

Naturalisation certificate

A naturalisation certificate must describe the holder as a British citizen.

Certificate of entitlement to right of abode

A certificate of entitlement to right of abode is only valid if it’s in a current, valid passport.

Extra checks on an employee’s right to work

You must use the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) employer checking service to see if an employee has the right to work if they can’t show you documents because they have an outstanding appeal or application with UKVI.

You must also check if an employee’s application registration card or certificate of application is valid (if these documents have been provided).

To request a check, download and fill in the employer checking service enquiry form and email it to the employer checking service.

Contact UKVI

Employer and education providers’ helpline BusinessHelpdesk@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 123 4699
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm
Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
Find out about call charges

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