6 ‘must-know’ facts for international students starting work

Here are 6 things every international student should know about working in the UK:

1. You must have a National Insurance Number to work in the UK (You’ll also need it to get your student loan payments). It acts a reference number to ensure that you are correctly paying tax and National Insurance contributions while you work. Sometimes it’s known as an NI Number or NINo.

  • If you’ve applied for an NI Number but it’s not arrived yet, you are allowed to start work (tell your employer that it’s on the way).


2. You need a bank account so that your employer can pay you. Ideally, open an account with an international bank BEFORE you leave your home country. Check that you’ll be able to use cash machines and other banking facilities in the UK.

If you’re already in the UK, open an account as soon as possible, because it can take some time. Some popular high-street banks include:

When applying for a bank account, you will need to provide your passport, visa (valid for at least 3 months) and your Student Status Letter.


3. Employers usually ask for 2 references when you start work. So that your new employer can obtain references, you’ll need to provide contact details for your most recent employer, or a professional person that has known you a long time. Try to at least give a full name, phone number and email address.


4. You will need proof of your current address. This could be a recent bank statement, an official letter from the UK government (such as HMRC) or a utility bill. Save these letters in a safe place, ready for when an employer asks to see them. Letters might take a while to replace if you lose them.


5. You’ll need a good CV and cover letter to apply for jobs. Check out your MDXWorks portal (Use your MyUniHub ID and password to log in), it’s packed with great resources to help you write a CV, including templates, tools and advice. You may like to start by looking at MDX CV Builder.

You may find it helpful to read some of our other blog-posts, including ’10 embarrassing CV mistakes to avoid’ and ‘Tips for writing a winning cover letter’.

If you’re a student or graduate of Middlesex University, you can send us your CV for review. Email: mailto:mdxworks@mdx.ac.uk We’ll provide you with friendly and constructive feedback to help you make improvements.

Quick tips for your international CV:

  • Make it clear that you are located in the UK / looking for work in the UK.
  • In your contact details, drop the +44 from your phone number and just use 0 (otherwise it may cause confusion for recruiters or issues with automatic dialling).
  • Ensure that your CV and letter are both great examples of your English language skills.
  • UK CVs are usually 2 sides long and don’t include your photo, date of birth or nationality.
  • Being multilingual is a great skill, so don’t forget to mention it on your CV.
  • For more great CV tips we recommend reading our blog-post: ’10 embarrassing CV mistakes to avoid’

6. You should at least be paid the National Minimum Wage for working. From October 2016 if you’re aged 18 to 20 you are entitled to receive at least £5.30 per hour. At 21, this increases to £6.70, then £7.20 if you are 25 or over.

Need more help?

You can find more information about working in the UK on the MDX Portal. Use your MyUniHub ID and password to log in.

For more information about tax or National Insurance take a look at the HRMC website. Alternatively, if HMRC can’t resolve your problem, you may be able to get advice from Tax Aid.

If you’re a current student at Middlesex University and you need support regarding finances, you can contact the MDX Student Welfare Advice Team on 020 8411 3008 or email: welfare@mdx.ac.uk

If you’re a current MDX student or recent graduate and you need help finding work,  contact MDXWorks Our friendly team can review your CVs, cover letters, support with applications, mock interviews or similar.



We’ve made every effort to ensure that the information contained in this blog-post is accurate. But things can change rapidly, so use the links provided to find out the latest information.

By Matt Lewis, MDXWorks On-Campus / Online, Middlesex University
Thanks to Christine Struwe at MDX International Students Advice for additional information.


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