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Banking & Tax

If you are going to be earning money in the UK you're going to have to pay tax. It is best to pay your tax as the UK Inland Revenue service have offices in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to hunt down tax dodgers who have gone home. Besides, the UK Inland Revenue are very efficient and a pleasure to deal with. Also, you can save a serious amount of tax money by doing one or two simple things and by chatting to the right people.

The tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April. When you get to the United Kingdom you should register for National Insurance (NI). Alternately, your employment agent or employer should be able to assist you in registering. 

The 2 most popular ways of being taxed in the United Kingdom are:


Pay As You Earn (PAYE) includes two types of tax :

  • Income Tax
  • National Insurance (NI)

Income Tax

The amount of income tax payable is calculated on your Taxable Income amount. Taxable Income is the difference between your Gross Pay (total earnings) and your Personal Allowance. This Personal Allowance is the amount that you are allowed to earn before paying tax.

The tax brackets for the UK 2002/2003 are as follows:

  • up to £4,615 - tax free
  • between £4,616 - £6,535 - 10%
  • £6,536 - £34,515 - 22%
  • over £34,515 - 40%

National Insurance (NI)

National Insurance is a tax that covers entitlements to a number of state benefits including a pension and free health care from the National Health Service (NHS). Both employers and employees are liable for NI and it is deducted at source.

The payment table (per week) is as follows :

  • Up to £66 NIL
  • Next £434, up to £500 10%
  • Over £500 NIL - Max of £43.40

PAYE Quick Table

Below is our 'Quick Table' which will give a good guide as to the deductions and net pay of a single person (the personal allowance is that of a single person). Please note that there may be a few exceptions, but the table will be accurate in standard cases and is a general guide. It is particularly effective in demonstrating the NI ceiling amount of £43.40 per week.

Hourly Rate (£) Gross pay(£)
40 hours
Weekly personal allowance (£) Taxable Income (£) Tax Due (£) National Insurance (£) Net Pay (£)
800.00 80.36
25.00 1000.00 80.36 916.64 271.37 43.40 685.23

Something like 97% of temporary workers in the UK are due a tax refund at the end of the tax year. This refund is best left to a reputable tax company who will take a percentage of your refund. No refund, no fee. To top it all, they can send the cash to wherever you are residing in the world.

Limited companies

A number of temporary workers form their own limited companies, become directors of those companies and invoice their agency or employer for their gross pay. The gross pay is paid into their limited company's bank account and does not, in effect, belong to them. This pay can be distributed in a number of ways, including salary or dividends. One of the effects is shifting the responsibility of deducting Income Tax and NI from the employer to the director(s) of the company.

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of operating through a limited company. The main advantage is that there are tax savings as certain operating costs are tax deductible and there can be substantial NI savings depending on the salary versus dividend income split. The tax savings can be very substantial and this form is taxation is very popular with travelers working in the UK.

The main disadvantages are the costs involved and the increased administrative duties. These companies typically cost in the region of £75 to set up and the annual accounting fees are approximately £300. The tax companies will be able to tell you if your potential tax savings outweigh this extra cost.

All of this tax talk can be quite confusing and it is difficult to cover all scenarios on this site, so we seriously suggest that you consult with the professionals to ensure the smooth running of your tax affairs. 

Bank Accounts

Despite London's prominent position in the international banking arena, opening a bank account can be extremely difficult. Most banks require the following :

  • reference letter from your bank in your home country
  • proof of your UK address (rent receipt or gas bill in your name)

The latter is particularly difficult if you have just arrived in London and are staying with friends. One way around this is to set-up a limited company (similar to a South African Close Corporation) that you will work through when in the UK. First Contact Financial has a very good relationship with a number of high street banks and can just about guarantee a bank account for your company when you open a limited company through them (subject to you not being a total reprobate). Problem solved. Refer to the tax section to find out more about the advantages of owning your own limited company. It could mean a whole lot more pounds to blow on your travels.

The services which British banks offer may be different from your home bank e.g. a number of banks do not have on-line facilities between branches which means that when drawing cash over the counter at a branch other than your own, your branch may have to be contacted to authorise the withdrawal. Also make sure you find out what cash point withdrawal charges are and what it costs to use a competitor bank's cash point machine.



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