Employing EEA nationals

Nationals from EEA countries and Switzerland can enter the UK without any restrictions. Employers should not, however, employ any individual on the basis of his/her claim to be a national from an EEA country, as not all EEA nationals can work in the UK without restrictions. EEA countries are: Austria, Netherlands, Italy, France, Belgium, Norway, Liechtenstein, Germany, Cyprus, Portugal, Luxembourg, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Malta, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, UK.

Employers should ask nationals from all EEA countries and Switzerland to prove their nationality by producing documents, or combinations of documents, which verify their identity as an EEA or Swiss national, or authorises their residence in the UK.

Immediate family members are also able to work freely in the UK while their adult EEA family member is legally residing and working here. However, employers should still check their documents to demonstrate this entitlement.

Worker Registration Scheme

On 1 May 2004, ten new countries joined the EU and became part of the EEA. Nationals from these countries are also free to live and work in the UK.  In 2004, the Government introduced the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) to monitor the participation of workers from eight of these countries in the UK labour market. Workers from these countries are often referred to as accession state workers. These countries are known as A8 countries:.

Closure of the WRS

This means that, from 1 May 2011, and will no longer be required to register their employment with the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Due to the closure of the Workers Registration Scheme on 30 April 2011, Accession State nationals from Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia, and Slovenia (A8) will no longer be required to register their employment with the UK Border Agency (UKBA).  They are now able to access the labour market on the same terms as other EU nationals (except Bulgarians and Romanians). If an A8 worker commenced employment after 1 April 2011.

The Government intends to apply transitional controls on labour market access, to nationals of any country joining the EU in the future. The UKBA will be publishing guidance here for employers on its website shortly.

Bulgaria and Romania

Workers from the newest EU member states, Bulgaria and Romania (A2 countries), are free to come to the UK, but may be subject to worker authorisation. This means that they are only able to work in the UK if they hold a valid accession worker authorisation document or if they are exempt from authorisation. Exemptions from the scheme are set out in the comprehensive guidance for employers.

Employers wishing to take on a new worker from one of the ten countries above should: