Working in the UK During Your Studies

European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss Nationals

If you are normally resident in a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland you have the right to live and work in the UK and do not need to obtain permission to work.

Croatian Nationals

If you are a Croatian national you must obtain permission to work in the UK. As a student, you will need to apply for a Yellow Registration Certificate which will allow you to work for up to 20 hours per week during term time. Information on how to apply for this can be found on the Home Office website.

Tier 4 (General) Students

If you hold a Tier 4 student visa to study at the RCA then you should have permission to work in the UK for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during vacation periods.

Your permission to work will be stamped on your visa in your passport or on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if you have extended your visa in the UK.

You should check to ensure that you have been given the correct permission to work. If you have not been given permission or have not been given the correct permission you should contact the Student Support Office for further advice.

While studying in the UK you can perform most kinds of work. However you must not do the following:

  • be self-employed (this includes freelance work)
  • be employed as a professional sports person or sport coach
  • be employed as an entertainer
  • take a full-time permanent job

Detailed information on working restrictions and advice as to what constitutes self employment can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website.

National Insurance

If you undertake employment during your time in the UK you may be required to pay National Insurance. More information on National Insurance and what this means for you can be found on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website.

In order to make your National Insurance contributions you will need to apply for a National Insurance Number. You do not need to have a National Insurance number before starting work, but you must obtain one when you get a job.

Applying for a National Insurance Number

You apply for a National Insurance number by calling the HMRC on +44 (0)345 600 0643 to make an appointment at your nearest Jobcentre Plus office.

When attending the appointment you should take your passport, payslip (if you have one) and a letter from your employer confirming that you will be/are working for them.

Further information about obtaining a National Insurance number can be found on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website.

Reclaiming Tax

As an international student you may be entitled to reclaim any tax that you have paid upon leaving the UK. In order to do this you will need to complete a P85 form and return it to HM Revenue & Customs.

Further information about reclaiming tax can be found on the GOV.UK website.


Student Support Office
+44 (0)20 7590 4140


UK Border Agency