Right to work checks: Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens
Last updated 20 April 2023
Hiring EU, EEA and Swiss citizens
For most EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, you need to check their right to work online using:
- a share code
- their date of birth
An EU passport or national identity card alone is no longer valid proof of someone's right to work in the UK.
However, Irish citizens can continue to use their passport or passport card to prove their right to work.
You can check someone’s original documents instead if they do not have a UK immigration status that can be shared with you digitally. Check which types of documents give someone the right to work in the UK.
You could face a civil penalty if you employ a worker and have not carried out a correct right to work check.
You should not discriminate when conducting right to work checks. See the ‘Code of practice for employers: avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working’ for more information.
Late applications made to the EU Settlement Scheme from 1 July 2021
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) was established to enable EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, and their family members, to get the immigration status they need to continue to live, work and study in the UK.
For those citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, the deadline for applications was 30 June 2021.
As an employer you are not responsible for making sure your employees have applied to the scheme and you do not need to undertake retrospective right to work checks on individuals who were employed on or before 30 June 2021.
There may be situations after 30 June 2021 in which you identify an EU citizen in your workforce who has not applied to the EUSS by the deadline and does not hold any other form of leave in the UK.
Where an EU citizen has reasonable grounds for missing the EUSS application deadline, they will be given a further opportunity to apply. Full guidance has been published (Annex C) on the steps you should take as an employer if this situation arises. You should advise them that they must make an application within 28 days.
On 6 August 2021, the government announced temporary protection for more applicants to the EUSS. This means that those who apply from 1 July, and joining family members, will continue to have their rights protected while their application is determined.
Late applicants and joining family members will now be able to take up new employment while they await the outcome of their application. Home Office guidance remains that where a prospective employee has a Certificate of Application (CoA) confirming a valid application to the EUSS made on or after 1 July, employers should verify this with the Home Office Employer Checking Service (ECS).
The Home Office will publish updated detailed guidance for employers in due course.
Recruiting people from outside the UK
Freedom of movement between the UK and EU has ended and the UK has introduced a points-based immigration system.
You need to have a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK.
For more information, view guidance on recruiting people from outside the UK.
Employer Enquiry helpline
If you need help carrying out a right to work check you should call the Employer Enquiry helpline:
Telephone: 0300 790 6268
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm
Friday, 9am to 4:30pm