Working abroad in Scotland

Nationals of the European Union are not subject to immigration controls and are therefore entitled to enter Scotland to look for work. For non-EU citizens who enter on a tourist visa finding legal work is extremely difficult. The Department of Employment does not issue work permits to unskilled or semi-skilled workers.

The Home Office is curbing illegal employment by requiring employers to see documentary proof of your status. Employers found employing people illegally will be liable for huge fines per employee.

If you are a non-EU citizen and want to work in Scotland you will be required to gain a working holiday visa, which can be applied for in your country of origin rather than at the point of entry, and entitles the holder to work in Britain with the primary intention of funding a holiday. You may also be asked to prove that you have enough money to support yourself and fund a return airfare.

If you are able to gain a working holiday visa you are then entitled to apply for a National Insurance number, which you should do so immediately. If you don’t, you will be put onto an emergency tax code and you will pay a higher rate of tax.

Both UK and Commonwealth nationals can claim a personal allowance. Foreign national can claim a personal allowance if they have been in the country for at least 183 days in any tax year.

Always keep tax documents such as the P60, and when you finish working send both parts of your P45 to your employer’s tax office. When you are ready to leave the UK, complete form P85, a leaving certificate that asks your intentions about returning to the UK to work.

To make things easier for you use an accountancy firm which, specialises in tax rebates.


There are regular vacancies for hotel work in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen throughout the year.

Many employment agencies specialize in catering work and once on their books, you can earn reasonably good money.


Anyone with a qualification in yachting, climbing, swimming, canoeing, etc. should be able to find employment as an instructor throughout the summer months.

Applicants will be asked to provide police clearance forms if the work involves working with children.


Anyone seeking entry as an au pair has to show documents at entry proving that they have an arrangement with a family or agency. Changing your status after entry as a visitor is not permitted. The maximum stay is two years and its possible to change families during this period.

In some areas it is easy to find live-in positions, but not in all, where there are far more au pairs than there are families. The work should consist of childcare and light housework and may include some evening babysitting.


Jobs in ‘telesales’ are plentiful. Advertisements for this type of work frequently appear in local newspapers, although they may not always mentions the nature of the job in the advert.

The basic salary may be low, but with commission you have a good chance of earning a reasonable salary.