Finding employment

Whether you are moving to Birmingham with confirmed employment, or are coming in search of work, your first port of call should be acquiring a National Insurance (NI) number.

Your NI number is unique to you, your NI contributions and tax are recorded against it, and it acts as your personal reference number within the social security system. You must have the right to work and study in the UK to be eligible for a National Insurance number.

How to Apply for a National Insurance Number

To apply for an NI number, you will need to make an appointment with the Jobcentre Plus. You can find your nearest JobCentre Plus and arrange an appoinment here:

You will then need to attend an ‘Evidence of Identity’ interview. This will be done on a one-to-one basis (unless an interpreter is required). You should bring as many original identity documents as you can to the interview, including:

  • Passport/identity card
  • Residence Permit
  • Birth/Adoption Certificate
  • Marriage/Civil Partnership Certificate
  • Driving Licence

Even if you don’t have these documents, you should still attend the interview, as you may still be able to sufficiently prove your identity. You will be asked to sign a NI number application form during the interview, and once everything has been completed Jobcentre Plus will contact you to let you know if your application has been successful. You should let your employer know your NI number as soon as you receive it. A NI card will be sent to you, which can take up to 12 weeks to arrive. However, you don’t need the card to begin work, the most important piece of information is the NI number.

Setting Up a Bank Account

When setting up a UK bank account there are usually a number of criteria which you must fulfill for your chosen bank or building society. Each financial service provider is different, however you will generally need at least one proof of identification (passport, driving licence, etc), and a proof of your UK address (bill, council tax statement, tenancy agreement, etc.)

As you may not yet have required proof of your address when you wish to open an account, some banks have specialist accounts, such as the HSBC Passport Account, which allow you to open an account without a proof of UK address. However, some of these account options may incur additional fees.

For more information on opening a new account, and what is right for you, see

Finding Employment

Birmingham has a wealth of employment opportunities, but can also be a very competitive job market. If you haven’t already lined up employment, you should be prepared to be patient, and perhaps consider temporary work while you apply for your dream job.

Traditionally Irish emigrants worked in areas such as construction, healthcare, and teaching, and while these areas are still strong draws for emigrants, you will also find Irish people engaged in areas such as finance, media, IT, hospitality, marketing and communications, and publishing, among many others.

When job hunting it is useful to check the websites of the individual organisations that you would like to work for, as many vacancies are only published through the organisation’s own channels. There are also many careers websites which may be useful, such as:

For more general careers information and advice for the UK, visit:

Salaries and Minimum Wage

The UK minimum wage is set at different levels based on your age and whether or not you are an apprentice. The current rates can be found here:

It can be difficult to calculate what you will need to get by, but there are resources which can help you to budget and manage your money accordingly:

Claiming Benefits

If you would like some advice regarding what your options are and what you are eligible to claim, just get in contact with Birmingham Irish Association’s  advice team.


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