European Social Fund: participant guidance

Guidance regarding employment status, barriers to employment and qualifications for participants in the European Social Fund (ESF).

This document is part of a collection

Eligibility - evidence

The following is a list of accepted (and preferred) evidence which may be required depending on the type of SI being delivered – please note that only one piece of evidence from each list is required. In addition, it is acceptable to gather documentation that can evidence more than one aspect of eligibility e.g. a passport provides evidence of an individuals’ ‘Right to live and work’ and their ‘Date of Birth’/‘Age’. This is not an exhaustive list and a common-sense approach should be applied by Lead Partners; the items in the list should not be interpreted as the Managing Authority stating that the evidence provides absolute proof of the eligibility condition. The Managing Authority’s objective is to achieve a reasonable degree of assurance that the participant qualifies for support, without imposing a significant burden on the participant or refusing support to those most in need.

As stated in the ‘Introduction’ section, information extracted from and certified via statutory public registers (e.g. DWP, SEEMIS) is acceptable for evidence requirements as long as the definitions used comply with those set out in the EC ESF monitoring and evaluation guidance. 

Eligibility criteria

Accepted evidence

Legally able to reside (and, if relevant to the operation, work) in the UK

  • all ESF participants


  • UK (or other EU Member State) Passport – must be valid and unexpired
  • non-EU Passport – must be valid, unexpired and endorsed ‘indefinite leave to remain – proceed’ (settled status) or includes work or residency permits or visa stamps (unexpired) and all related conditions met
  • EU ID/EEA Identity Card/Identity Card issued by the Home Office in place of a visa (confirming the individual’s right to stay). NB: EU, EEA or Swiss citizens could continue to use their passport or national identity card to prove they can work in the UK up to and including 30 June 2021 as per the UK Government's settled status rules. From 1 July 2021, a passport or national identity card cannot be used as evidence of Right to Live and Work. The Right to Work evidence for EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals can be verified using the Home Office online Right to Work checking service. Please see Section C.
  • UK driving licence (full or provisional) may be used provided that it is accompanied by further supporting evidence such as a birth certificate, a letter from a Government department including local authorities confirming name & address, a P60. Please note this list is not exhaustive.
  • residency permit for foreign nationals
  • asylum seeker - copy of individual’s Application Registration Card (ARC)
  • proof of refugee status, Humanitarian Protection, Discretionary Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, including:
    • a Home Office letter confirming status and permission to work
    • a Home Office Certificate of Identity
    • a benefits notification letter
    • an Immigration Status Document
  • evidence that the individual is in receipt of State Benefits/Pension e.g. award letter detailing benefits (DWP/Universal Credit/Job Centre Plus/Pension Service correspondence) or print-out from online Universal Credit system.
  • birth/adoption certificate (EU Member State)
  • marriage/civil partnership certificate (provided that it can be evidenced that the participant’s partner has a legal right to live in the UK)
  • evidence that participant is employed in the UK e.g. letter of employment, wage slip, contract of employment
  • evidence that participant has been employed in the UK within the last three years e.g. P45, P60, wage slip, contract of employment
  • National Insurance number e.g. NI Card, correspondence from HMRC/DWP/Jobcentre Plus/Pension Service, contract of employment, wage slip

Qualification Levels on entry - relates to:

  • Developing Scotland’s Workforce participants (SFC & SDS SI)
  • any qualification related barriers to employment (e.g. ‘Low Skilled’)


  • qualification certificate
  • records of the academic institution / qualification body etc
  • print-out from ‘My SQA’ recording details of all qualifications held (from 1995 onwards)

    Please note that where an individual’s qualifications are pre-1995, and they are unable to obtain any evidence from SQA, a signed registration form will be considered acceptable evidence.

    The SQA website states:

    “MySQA only holds information from 1995 to present day. To obtain qualifications prior to 1995 you can order a Replacement Certificate at There is a fee for this service…”

    Replacement certificates can be obtained for participants as part of the percentage of indirect costs.In addition it is possible to apply online for an individual’s Scottish Candidate Number.

Age - generally relates to:

  • YEI participants (must be between 16 and 29 years old)
  • any age related barriers to employment e.g. ‘Above 54 years of age’

However all participants should be able to evidence that they are of working age (e.g. minimum school leaving age).

  • birth certificate
  • driving licence (Full or Provisional)
  • UK (or other EU Member State) Passport – must be valid and unexpired
  • National Insurance Number e.g. NI Card, correspondence from HMRC/DWP/Jobcentre Plus/Pension Service, contract of employment, wage slip
  • National Identity Card (EU)
  • evidence that in receipt of age-related State Benefits
  • proof of age cards that include the PASS hologram or have been issued by a government agency/statutory body e.g. Young Scot Card, Citizen Card
  • European Health Insurance Card
  • NHS Correspondence (where age is stipulated)

Address – relates to:

  • all YEI participants only (a signed registration form is acceptable for all non-YEI ESF participants)


  • utility bill
  • bank/credit card statement
  • council tax bill
  • official correspondence e.g. DWP; NHS; HMRC etc
  • NHS Medical Card
  • driving license (full or provisional) - as this is a legal document that must be kept up-to-date, there is no requirement for the driving licence to have been issued/dated within six months of registration.
  • a postcode check which demonstrates the eligibility of the participant’s location is acceptable provided that the LP can evidence the process that has been followed.

Please note that:

  • this is not an exhaustive list and a common- sense approach should be applied by Lead Partners
  • all evidence (with the exception of a Driving Licence) should be dated within 6 months of the Participant’s Date of Registration (although an exception can be made for benefits letters that are issued on an annual basis). N.B This does not apply to the postcode check
  • correspondence from private individuals is not acceptable
  • where an individual is homeless, evidence of address is not required, although a ‘care of’ address should be noted (where available)
  • where a Lead Partner has made reasonable attempts to obtain evidence of the individual’s address, but are unable to do so, a signed Registration Form is acceptable (provided the postcode is in the correct format). Please note that this will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances - Lead Partners must attempt to obtain this documentation in all cases
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