How To Apply For A Frontier Worker Permit In The UK?


Live-in Carer helping elderly man with crutches

When the UK left the EU on the 31st of December 2020 it ended ‘free movement between’ the UK and the EU. This means we can’t just move across the English channel to live and work anymore without paperwork.

A new immigration system was announced at the end of 2020 which introduced changes that you need to know about and plan for. This system includes the new Frontier Worker Permit Scheme which started on the 10th of December 2020.

In this article I will explain:

  • Who is a Frontier Worker

  • How to apply for a permit

  • What the permit scheme will allow you to do

  • How long it is valid for

Who Is A Frontier Worker?

“If you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen, employed or self-employed in the UK, and have worked in the UK before the 31st of December 2020 and want to live outside of the UK you will need a Frontier Worker Permit.”

Before you apply for the permit it is important to know what the rules are. It is very important that you understand the following statement.

This permit is based on the fact that you have kept working in the UK at least once every 12 months since you started working here in the UK.

The application process will ask you show that you are a non-resident in the UK, and you will be considered a non-resident in the UK only if you can show that:

  • That you have been present in the UK for less than 180 days in the 12 months before making an application; or

  • You have returned to your country of residence at least once in the last 6 months, or twice in the last 12 months before making an application, unless there are reasons for not having done so.

When Are You Not A Frontier Worker

“If you are non-British or non-Irish, and you intend to begin employment in the UK while living outside of the UK, but do not start working until, on, or after 1 January 2021, then you will not be considered for a Frontier Worker Permit.”


You will then need to apply to enter the UK under a different work route under the new points- based immigration system. NOTE: From 1 July 2021, you will only be able to enter the UK as a Frontier Worker if you can produce a valid Frontier Worker Permit, together with your valid passport or national identity card.

You will however be able to continue entering the UK as a Frontier Worker using just your valid passport or national identity card until 30 June 2021.

How To Apply To Be A Frontier Worker

Once you understand the rules of what the permit allows you to do and what you need to apply for the rest of the application process is straightforward. Applications are free, and you will be able to apply online from either inside or outside of the UK.

When you apply you’ll need a valid passport or national identity card. To confirm your identity, you will have to use the free App called UK Immigration: ID Check to scan your passport with a biometric chip and upload a photo of yourself. The app can be found on the Apple and Android App Stores.

You’ll be told which other documents you need to provide when you apply. Some will depend on whether you are employed or self-employed, for example:

  • An employment contract, or contracts to work in the UK

  • Payslips, or copies of invoices for work carried out in the UK

It costs nothing to apply for the permit, and you do not have to pay the immigration health surcharge. You may have to pay to submit your biometric information (photograph or fingerprints).

What The Permit Allows You To Do

You can use your permit to enter the UK as a Frontier Worker and show your right to:

  • Work

  • Rent

  • Access benefits and services, including NHS healthcare, if you meet the relevant eligibility requirements

If your application for a Frontier Worker Permit is approved and you are an employed worker then your permit will be valid for 5 years. If you are a self-employed carer then your permit will be valid for 2 years.

NOTE: “Whilst Frontier Worker Permits will grant a right of admission to the UK, it will not provide leave to enter or remain in the UK.”

Your Frontier Worker Permit can be renewed, but obtaining a permit under this route will not lead to settlement in the UK. If you wish to pursue settlement or long-term status in the UK, you should apply application for Pre-Settled or Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

How Long Is It Valid For

If you are no longer a Frontier Worker, but previously were, you will be able to retain your Frontier Worker Permit for a period of 2 years (or 6 months if you have stopped working due to unemployment after working in the UK for less than a year) if any one of the following applies:

  • You are temporarily unable to work due to illness or an accident;

  • You were working in the UK but are now involuntary unemployed, and are currently seeking employment in the UK;

  • You are currently in work training while unemployed, and the training is related to previous employment;

  • You are temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy or recent childbirth; or You are on maternity or paternity leave, and you will return to previous employment or find another job after such leave.

NOTE: If you are an Irish Citizen, you will not need to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit, but may do so, if you wish.