Working the UK and Ireland

Animated Union Jack

As a British colonial (and a native English speaker) it is common for many Australians (Canadians and New Zealanders) and people from everywhere to spend some time in the British and Irish region. Some of us are lucky enough to possess dual citizenship but this article is also geared toward those of  you taking advantage of the reciprocal working holiday visa arrangement (which will be discussed in further detail). So assuming you’ve managed to get yourself a flight itinerary, maybe stop somewhere for a sneaky peek on the way over, what happens next?


Always a good idea and somewhat necessary to progress through immigration (unless you plan to end up on one of those questionable t.v shows). The general rule for those seeking the youth mobility visa (working holiday visa) are as such;

  • You must be between the ages of eighteen and thirty (not yet have turned thirty-one) when you apply
  • You must not have successfully applied for the visa previously and expired its duration
  • you must have proof of 1600 pounds or equivalent in your bank account
  • You must of course possess a valid passport from your country of origin

These are the general rules for both Ireland and the UK but separate links have been provided on the home page for specific information. Also worth noting is the difference in validity duration, for the UK visas are valid for up to two years whereas in Ireland visas will last up to one year.

Finding accommmodation

Oxalis acetosella

Oxalis acetosella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On arrival it may be of use to you to begin in a hostel, firstly for the social comfortability of being surrounded by people. A further advantage may be the networking opportunities and information there at your fingertips. Keep your eyes and ears open for;

  • Job opportunities
  • Social outings
  • low budget permanent/semi permanent accommodation
  • Feedback on any of these
  • Seasonal trends
  • Tips on job hunting
  • Any other useful referals
  • Where you nearest location of any services are

The website I have found the most useful in the UK is This site is also useful in Ireland but seems to have a bigger selection, particularly for room sharing which would be the absolute cheapest option in private accommodation. Links to both these have been set up on this home page. Some people like to set limits to the number of their own country people they move in with. This is especially common among Brazilian, Polish, and Spanish (and Spanish-speaking) nationals. Of course this is entirely up to you but I can personally recommend the benefits and cultural insight of living with locals if you are lucky enough to find the ideal place. Also worth bringing with you would be any rental references you may have from your home country.

Finding employment (aka raking in the cash and sustaining social habits)

The same rules apply to your usual job-searching however prepare yourself to experience a greater sense of urgency that you would at home. When you’re living off your own cash (yes some of you may have been doing this anyway) you may surprise yourself how resourceful you can be. Personal tips here include;

  • NEVER whinge (it’s unproductive and you will feel differently the next day anyway)
    A welsh dragon. Found a very similar one on a ...
  • NEVER listen to anyone else whinge (they may convince you of a worse situation)
  • See what has made others successful or not in their job hunting and fine tune your own
  • Don’t immediately rule out possibilities but keep a realistic perspective
  • Know that any success is well deserved
  • Vary your approach on a daily basis (if it’s a rainy day, hit the online applications hard, but get dressed up and get out with your CV the next day)
  • Frequently analyse your CV
  • View it as a positive opportunity to support the lifestyle you would like and develop more skills
  • Remember it’s all psychological (if you haven’t got that from the rest of the list) and finally
  • Expect success

There will be a number of other thing you need to sort like getting a national insurance number in the UK or PPS number in Ireland which is similar to the Australian TFN (Tax File Number). In the UK these can be sourced through your local job centre but there should be a variety of sources including your local welfare/social security offices in both Ireland and the UK.

Bank accounts

en: Photo of Euro coins and notes. da: Foto af...

These may take longer than expected to be active so prepare to be patient and get started on setting one up asap. Some banks including Lloyds TSB, Clydesdale bank in the UK and AIB in Ireland may assist you quicker than others. The hold up will most likely be whether or not you have proof of address (your hostel may help you but some banks won’t take that as a valid address). Once you have found a job your boss may be able to assist you if  you are still having trouble.

With the basics sorted all that remains is to create the lifestyle you desire and have come all this way after so much effort to experience. I am currently in the UK and have just joined a gym and keep up to date with most local venues via facebook. I also support a local charity that focuses on housing Scottish youth, which I feel is my way of supporting the local economy that has supported me for the last year and a half and in the past. Having read this article it may sound like a lot of work to pick up your life and transport it miles away. There is no masking of life’s challenges and I view this as just another one. I would also never trade the opportunity living over here has given me to both know myself and meet like-minded people that have become friends of mine for life.

Scotch Thistle By Cardross road near Carman Re...

Scotch Thistle By Cardross road near Carman Reservoir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)