Au Pairs FAQs

How do I become an Au Pair?

Please read the information contained in the Au Pairs section of this website and contact a BAPAA member agency listed in the Directory. They will advise you on how to apply.

I am not happy with my host family, where can I get help?

If you cannot resolve problems directly with your host family (which should be attempted first), contact the Au Pair agency that placed you with the family and they will be able to help you.

Why do I have to use an agency? Can I not just pick a family from an internet site?

You should never look for, or accept a family, that you have found on the internet. It’s not a safe way to travel and work as an Au Pair. Always use a reputable BAPAA agency (see list of BAPAA member agencies in the Directory). A BAPAA agency assists with the careful matching of an au pair to vetted families in Britain. Many agencies look after the same host families year after year; they know the families well and this ensures successful and safe placements. Once in the UK, you will be well looked after by the BAPAA agency you choose to use.

There are no Au Pair agencies in the country where I live. What should I do?

Contact one of the BAPAA agencies on this site and they will advise you who to contact and what the next step is.

Do I need to provide the agency with a medical report and police check?

A Medical report is essential and so is a police check. It’s very important that the BAPAA agency ensures that you are physically and mentally fit to work as an Au Pair and also that you have no criminal background.

Will the host family contribute to language school costs?

Some families will offer to pay for their au pair’s language course and others will offer a contribution (BAPAA recommends that the host family contributes at least £20 per month towards language school costs or equivalent benefits) but the Au Pair must be prepared to bear the majority of the costs.

As an Au Pair, do I get paid holiday? If so, how many weeks?

As from September 2010, BAPAA recommends 4 weeks per year (or 1.66 days per month pro-rata if the placement is shorter than a year), plus 8 Bank / Public Holidays. The matter of paid holidays should be discussed and agreed between you and the Host Family. The family must specify the Au Pair’s entitlement to paid holidays and must state when they can be taken or if there are any times which are inconvenient to them. Holiday times are to be mutually agreed between the host family and Au Pair at all times. If a host family wishes to take an Au Pair on holiday with them, it must be decided in advance if it is a holiday for the Au Pair as well, or if he/she will be working i.e babysitting.

As an Au Pair, will I have to work on Bank / National Holidays?

Au pairs are to be given UK Bank / National Holidays as free time.

Croatian Nationals – are they permitted to be Au Pairs in the UK?

There may be some restrictions. BAPAA is still awaiting clarification as to what is required.

What is the difference between an Au Pair, a Mother’s Help and a Nanny?

Au pair – The Au Pair programme is an internationally recognised Cultural Exchange Programme. It offers a young individual the opportunity to travel and live / work with a host family in a new country, learn a foreign language and experience the country’s culture. The Au Pair will work a set amount of hours for the host family, usually doing a mixture of childcare and light housework. The Au Pair may have some childcare experience and even qualifications, but an Au Pair is not a nanny and should also not be treated as a housekeeper.

Mother’s help – A mother’s help is a carer who has got a genuine interest in children, who works under supervision on the daily running of the household. The mother’s help will have at least 1 year’s relevant experience and / or a qualification. Duties regarding children will be according to their experience, the type of household and the ages of the children. An extra hand rather than someone who takes charge. Depending on the childcare responsibilities expected, they will be able to help around the house with light housework and run errands. If she is experienced and confident enough, she can take sole charge of the children at times. Unlike most nannies, mothers’ helps will normally do some light housework (dusting, hoovering etc).

Nanny – A nanny is a qualified and / or experienced childcarer who works in the setting of the family’s home, either live-in or out. The nanny is able to assume the responsibility of sole charge of young children. They are professionals and therefore expect a permanent contract with normal working conditions i.e. annual salary plus bonuses, overtime, paid holiday and their salary is subject to national insurance etc. Apart for doing childcare, they will usually only do child-related housework.

Please note that, for 2017-18, UK income tax is payable on income over £11,500 per annum.
Families are responsible for ensuring income tax and National Insurance contributions are paid, if applicable.
Please check with the HMRC for further information on income tax and National Insurance thresholds (website

What advice can you give Au Pairs about driving in the UK?

If you are from an EU or EEA* Country (see list below), then you can drive in the UK with your home country licence. From most other Countries, provided your licence remains valid, you can drive for up to 12 months. To carry on driving after 12 months, you must have obtained a provisional British driving licence and passed a driving test before the 12 months lapses. For more information, visit
Before you drive in the UK for the first time, it is vital to be sure that your host family has arranged insurance cover for you with their motor insurer so that you are legally covered when you drive their car. BAPAA recommends that you ask to see evidence that your name has been included on the family’s motor insurance policy. As an adult, UK Law considers you to be a responsible person and you should only agree to drive if you are satisfied that you are insured!
BAPAA recommends that all Au Pairs who are required to drive as part of their routine are given a course of driving lessons by a qualified British driving instructor. The instructor will report to the family when he/she feels that you have reached the correct degree of confidence required.


  • The controls in UK cars are on the opposite side
  • The roads are very different
  • The UK has more roundabouts and you have to drive clockwise around them.
  • Traffic coming from the right has priority
  • In the UK, we drive on the left hand side
  • The speeds are given in miles per hour (not kilometres per hour)
  • In built up areas, the speed limit is 30mph and in some areas 20 miles per hour
  • On B roads the speed limit is 60 mph and will soon be reduced to 50 mph
  • On A roads, the speed limit is 70 mph where there are dual carriageways
  • There are many speed cameras in use in the UK and speed limits are enforced very strictly.
  • If you exceed a speed limit, you are likely to be traced by the Police and could easily be disqualified from driving or heavily fined
  • Double yellow lines mean no parking at any times. In some areas, your car may be clamped or towed away if illegally parked.
  • If you drive into Central London, you have to pay a congestion charge, which currently costs from £10 per day, depending on how you pay. For more information go to

Petrol used by an Au Pair in connection with work is paid for by the family, but most Au Pairs will have to pay for petrol for their personal use. This needs to be discussed at the beginning of the Au Pair‘s stay.

You can get directions of how to get from one place to another at the AA website

*Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden UK. Switzerland is not in the EEA but an international treaty means that Swiss Nationals have similar rights.





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