Payments to External Examiners

Payments to External Examiners : Taught and Research programmes

HMRC view external examiners for UG, PGT and PGR degrees slightly differently. In order to comply with these regulations, the following arrangements apply to external examiners.

Deduction of Income Tax from Fee Payments

Examiners - Taught Programmes

Taught Programme External examiners - UG and PGT are treated, for tax purposes, as if they are employees who may be liable for PAYE and subject to right to work (rtw) checks. Fee payments to external examiners - UG and PGT are therefore required to go via the HR/Payroll system. External examiners - UG and PGT may also be liable for NIC if the work is done under a contract of employment that is for more than 12 months. 

Checks required for overseas workers: For UG/PG contracts, if the external examiner:

  1. is working wholly outside the UK; and
  2. has not been resident in the UK before; and
  3. does not intend to and will not perform any duties in the UK

Code ‘NT’ can be operated (and category X if NIC otherwise applicable) i.e. no PAYE or NIC. An NT code (and Category X) can only be applied if the External Examiner and the school/dept provides written confirmation/a declaration from the individual that ALL of the above criteria is applicable.

Any examiner who has no other employment and where income from all sources does not exceed the threshold for taxation should notify their school contact as soon as possible as it will be necessary to complete a statement to this effect. It is only under these exceptional circumstances that the University may be permitted to pay an External Examiner for a taught programme of study without the basic deduction of income tax.

Examiners - Research Programmes

HMRC rules allow for PGR examiners to be paid without the need to complete the employment status checks or right to work checks provided the PGR examiner's role is limited to assessing, examining and supervising PGR students, submission of reports etc. Research programme external examiners undertaking a role that is wider than this, must have their self-employed status reviewed and complete a self-employed status check form.  If the outcome of the employment status checks deem the payments taxable, the fees should be paid in the same way as the UG and PGT fees i.e. via HR/Payroll. The University is unable to accept any liability for VAT which may be incurred by individual examiners.


External examiners can claim reasonable expenses incurred in support of their examining work provided they are claimed in accordance with the University's Expenses Policy and as agreed with your School.

Expenses are paid without the deduction of income tax if they comply with the expenses policy and guidance. External examiners may be subject to tax on their expenses if their travel can be classed as "home to work". The tax status of the travel must be reviewed prior to the approval of external examiner expenses within the School.


It is a HMRC requirement that all receipts, given in support of a claim, are itemised. All claims should be submitted within three months of being incurred or provide an explanation as to why the claim has not been submitted within that timeframe. You are welcome to claim expenses at any time throughout the academic session. 

It is good practice for you to retain a scan of any receipts submitted in case queries arise.

All payments for fees and expenses are made through BACS with a remittance advice sent to the home address of the external examiner.

Further Help and Assistance

Please contact your school contact in the first instance for queries relating to the fee payments or expenses due to be reclaimed.

Further information for Schools is available on our Finance Specialist Services SharePoint site.

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