Jobs in Scotland for Foreigners

Do you want to work abroad in Scotland? Whether you’re moving there temporarily on a youth visa or you’re making a permanent move to Scotland, you’ll need to find a job soon after you arrive. Luckily, there are lots of jobs in Scotland for foreigners.

If you’re on a temporary visa, you may be concerned that no one will want to hire you, since you can’t commit to working for them for an extended period.

The standard interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is surely going to pop up, right? Wrong! There are so many temporary jobs in Scotland that cater specifically for foreigners seeking temporary work within the country.

It’s one of the things which makes Scotland such a great place to move to as a temporary foreign worker.

Edinburgh City Scape at dusk, blue and pink sky with buildings lit up. A tower clock on the right side with the Edinburgh Castle in the back. One of the places a foreigner can get a job in Scotland.

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Work-Life Balance in Scotland

One of the best aspects of working in Scotland is a stable work-life balance. As a full-time employee, you’re entitled to a minimum of 28 paid holiday days per year.

This time off gives you plenty of opportunities to explore Scotland and the rest of Europe. Many companies offer additional time off, depending on where you work. You can work, travel and enjoy a fantastic quality of life while working in Scotland.

You can hunt for a job in Scotland in several ways. Searching job advertising websites, going through temporary recruitment agencies, applying directly to companies you’d like to work for and inquiring about jobs on farms with accommodation are all possible options.

But before you start looking for work abroad in Scotland, there are a few legal things you should sort out, since you’ll be legally required to have them prior to being recruited by any business in the country.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Living in Scotland

What you need to work abroad in Scotland

Office buildings in Edinburgh's city centre at Rutland Court
My friend Chris works at the office building on the left. Play your cards right and you can be his coworker.

Before you can work abroad in Scotland, you’ll need the following paperwork and documents. Of course, you can start looking and applying for jobs before you have any of the following. But be sure to have everything mentioned below as soon as you can to make your transition into the workplace much easier.

National Insurance Number for the UK

To legally work in Scotland, everyone needs a National Insurance Number (NIN). This is a number used by the government to properly document taxes and contributions.

To apply for a National Insurance number, call the National Insurance number application line. The only possible problem you’ll come across is that to get a National Insurance number card, you must have a UK address. So be sure you’re settled somewhere long enough for you to receive all your paperwork and permanent NIN card before you apply for them.

You can apply for jobs and even begin working without a National Insurance number, as long as you let your employer know you’ve applied for one.

To get your NIN and to open up a bank account as an EU citizen, you’re only required to show ID as proof of being able to work abroad in Scotland.

If you’re moving to Scotland from outside the EU, you’ll have to obtain a work visa as proof of being able to work abroad in Scotland before you can get your NIN. The easiest visa to get is a 24-month youth mobility visa, also known as a “working holiday visa” or “gap year visa”. See below for more information on how to get a working holiday visa.

Scottish CV (curriculum vitae )/Resume

To apply for jobs, you’re required to present a curriculum vitae (resume). The CVs employers expect in Scotland may be slightly different than the ones you’re used to creating in your country. I’m definitely not an expert, so I suggest checking out the following sites for tips.

If English isn’t your first language, please be sure to get a native English speaker to double-check your spelling and grammar. If you don’t know any English speakers, you can hire a freelancer on sites like Upwork to help ensure everything is correct before you begin sending your CV off to potential employers.

Opening a Bank Account in Scotland

The outside of a large Royal Bank in Edinburgh Scotland
This was my bank – The Royal Bank of Scotland. Isn’t it beautiful?! You should see the inside!

To get paid, you need to have a bank account and getting a Scottish bank account in Scotland isn’t the easiest thing to do as a foreigner. If you’re like me and insist on getting an account with a Scottish bank (Royal Bank of Scotland or Bank of Scotland) you may be required to get a reference from a trusted UK citizen. If you aren’t so picky, it’s much easier to open an account with an English bank, such as Natwest, Lloyds or Barclays.

To open a bank account, you’ll be required to provide proof of address and ID. Generally, a utility bill is sufficient as proof of address. But seeing as you’ve probably just moved to Scotland when you’re opening a bank account, it’s unlikely you’ll have one. 

Make sure you take your flat letting Agreement and your temporary work visa with you. This is usually enough to count as proof of address. Most banks will be okay with this. But if yours isn’t, don’t be disheartened. There are plenty more banks throughout Scotland and many of them have no issues for a foreigner to open an account with a temporary work visa.

UK Scotland Visa Application for working holiday foreigners and expats to find jobs in Scotland

Work Visa for Scotland

If you’re moving to Scotland from outside the EU, you’re required to obtain a work visa. There are several options available to you, depending on how long you’re planning on staying in Scotland. I moved to and worked in Scotland on a “working holiday visa”. This allows people from the following countries to obtain a 24-month temporary visa to live and work in Scotland.

  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • Australia
  • Taiwan
  • Hong Kong
  • Korea

If you’re interested in going down this route, check out my post on How to Obtain a UK Working Holiday Visa.

If you’re an EU citizen, you don’t have to get a visa to legally work in Scotland.

If you aren’t from the EU or any of the countries listed above, there are other options. Stop by the British Consulate Office in your area to find out what you need to do to move to and work in Scotland.

Related: How to Apply for a UK Working Holiday Visa

Working in Scotland as an American

Unfortunately, moving to Scotland is a challenge for my American friends. There are still several ways you can do it, but it’s not as simple as just getting a working holiday visa. If you plan on moving to Scotland to work as an American, you can apply for a work visa through the UK Government Immigration website.

But to be granted a visa, you must already have a job lined up before moving to Scotland. You’ll have to speak to your place of work and get them to help you obtain the proper work visa. Click here to find out more.

I wrote a post about moving to Scotland from the US to help any Americans considering moving to Scotland.

How to get a job in Scotland as an Expat

A group of adults working in an office - one of the jobs foreigners can get in Scotland is work in an office
This could be you! I don’t even know if these people are working in Scotland… it’s just a stock photo from We can pretend though!

How long you’re planning on spending in Scotland helps you decide which types of jobs to apply for. There are several jobs in Scotland for expats and options for those who choose to stay in Scotland temporarily. You may think that places won’t want to hire you if you can’t commit to a long-term contract. But I found Scotland to be very accommodating to temporary workers.

Even Scottish citizens apply for jobs through temporary work agencies, since these jobs can often lead to full-time permanent positions within the company.

If you’re looking for more flexibility and a job that grants you the freedom to explore Scotland and other European countries whenever you like, a position in the hospitality industry is the way to go. Many people in search of this lifestyle apply for jobs at hotels, hostels, restaurants and bars.

Another option I recommend is to get a job at one of Scotland’s many attractions. Larger cities like Edinburgh have an abundance of attractions that will gladly hire foreign employees. One such attraction is Edinburgh Zoo. I found a job in the gift shop and loved it! Several of my co-workers (such as those in food services) were also from other countries. It’s fantastic being able to share your workspace with so many people from so many countries.

Related: What it’s Like Working at Edinburgh Zoo

Job agencies in Scotland

Temporary Job Agencies:

Jobs in Scotland with Accommodation

There are several different types of jobs in Scotland that offer accommodation. Most of these jobs are outside the larger cities. But if you want to spend your days exploring the gorgeous Scottish countryside, getting a job with accommodation may be your best choice. In Scotland, you can get various farm jobs with accommodation or work at out-of-town hotels that offer their employees room and board.

If you’re interested in working at a hotel in Scotland, I highly recommend you check out the careers page on Luxury Scotland for more information.

There are several options for farm work with accommodation in Scotland. The list below is a great place to start. If you’re thinking about volunteering on a farm with free accommodation, check out WWOOF Scotland.

Farm work in Scotland:

Highland Cow standing in a field in Scotland
Potential coworker? Some farm jobs offer accommodation.

Jobs in demand in Scotland

Jobs in demand in Scotland vary significantly depending on where you settle down. Scotland has several sectors seeking skilled workers, such as the financial services, the oil and gas industry, engineers, health care and the service industry.

If you’re planning on staying in Scotland temporarily, I advise reaching out for jobs in the hospitality and customer service industry, as they are much more flexible. They can give you the opportunity to take random days in the middle of the week off work, as opposed to being stuck to the strict Monday-Friday working week. This perk allows you to travel through Scotland a lot easier.

No matter what type of job you apply for, Scotland makes it very easy for foreigners to find work. Whether you’re planning on living and working in Scotland temporarily or you’re making the move permanent, you’ll find an abundance of jobs waiting for you. To make you feel better about finding a job in Scotland, know this: I moved there during the 2009 world recession and still found a job in Scotland! If you’re ready to put in the work, the Scottish job market is ready for you.

Are you ready to book your flight?

I use several different tools to find affordable airfare, but I often find myself returning to Skyscanner. It is a great tool for finding various flights around the world. It includes several airlines and shows you the cheapest flights for each day.

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More Information about Moving to Scotland

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