How To Check If A Candidate’s Right To Work Documents Are Genuine

The Home Office don’t expect recruiters to replace trained immigration officers, or to invest in expensive document scanning equipment. They do however place an onus on employers to take reasonable steps:


“If you are given a false document, you will only be liable for a civil penalty if it is reasonably apparent that it is false. This means that a person who is untrained in the identification of false document, examining it carefully, but briefly, and without the use of technological aids could reasonably be expected to realise that the document in question is not genuine.” – Home Office Employer’s Guide To Right To Work Checks


Outlined below are typical examples of situations you may confront, and some of the reasonable steps you can take to check Right to Work documents are genuine:


Impersonation – the person is simply a “look-a-like” presenting a genuine document.


What you can do:
  • Check the signature on the document. Can the candidate recreate it?
  • Does the person in front of you look the correct age?
  • Compare the document photo. Does the person have any distinguishing features (e.g. moles/scars)? Look carefully at features of the face – are they the same?


Counterfeits & Forgeries – A complete reproduction from scratch to resemble an officially issued document or a genuine document that has been unlawfully altered in some way. For example, substituting a page, image or altering the personal details.


What you can do:
  • Check the quality of the document. Is it manufactured to a high standard?
  • Check the quality of the printing. Is it of a high standard and definition?
  • Check the condition of the document. Is there are any sign it has been altered or pages substituted, are all the pages in perfect alignment?
  • Check the images in the document. Most photographs and digital images in passports or ID cards will be protected by an ink stamp, an emboss, or a laminate. Are there any signs this has been tampered with?

If you do encounter a suspected false Right to Work document, contact the Police or your local Immigration Enforcement Office.