If you wish to play rugby in any Union other than the one you are currently registered with you must obtain permission to make the change. This permission is known as “International Clearance” and such clearance is granted by your current Union and then approved by your new Union. The process is further explained below.
The World Rugby Regulation
World Rugby has issued a Regulation setting out the basic clearance process which must be followed by all Unions.
Scottish Rugby’s Regulation
Scottish Rugby has adopted the World Rugby Regulation into its own domestic regulation, SDR 4.2 International Clearance. SDR 4.2 and it will be applied in respect of all players transferring into and out of our jurisdiction. All those within the Scottish Rugby Union’s jurisdiction are required to comply with SDR 4.2.
Guidance as to how to go about obtaining International Clearance for a player can be found below:
Player Payment Rules
Players looking to come into Scotland (Incoming Players)
If you are planning to play your rugby in Scotland, welcome. Before we can authorise you to play for your Scottish club you will have to obtain International Clearance from your current national Union. Your Scottish club is also required to request that Scottish Rugby processes your clearance request.
The steps in this process are as follows:
1.Complete as far as possible the International Clearance Form provided by your current national Union. This is normally downloadable from their website. If this is not available, your current Union may accept the standard clearance form attached as Appendix 1 to WR Regulation 4.
2.Forward the Form to the individual responsible for administration at your current club. Ask them to forward the Form to your current national Union, confirming that you are under no outstanding contractual obligation to the club. We recommend that you ask to be copied in on this correspondence.
3.Your current Union will then complete the process of clearing you out of their Union. They will send a copy of the Form to the Regulation Department at Murrayfield.
4.On receipt of the form we will ask your Scottish club to complete and return a request for us to process your application: Request for Scottish Rugby to process incoming clearance.
5.We will review the request form from your new club and your clearance form. If everything is in order, we will then clear you to play in Scotland. At this point we normally send a copy of the completed clearance form and a covering letter by email to the secretary of your Scottish club.
6.The Club Secretary should provide you with a copy of the correspondence for your own records.
If you don’t yet have a Scottish club you can find details of our clubs using our club finder tool.
Please also note:
1.At certain times of year we receive a considerable number of international clearance to process. We are particularly busy towards the start of the season (from early August) and just prior to the Transfer Deadline (31 December). Whilst we will do our best to process your application as quickly as possible, applicants are recommended to plan accordingly
2. Players who normally play in Scotland but who have temporarily been playing in another Union are required to obtain clearance before playing again in Scotland.
Players looking to leave Scotland (Outgoing Players)
If you are currently registered in Scotland and are planning to play elsewhere (including returning to the Union you were with before you came to Scotland) you will need to be cleared out of Scotland and into your new Union. In order to do this:
1. Please complete our Application for Clearance to Play within another Union form. You will need to get the person responsible for administration at your current club to sign the “Declaration on behalf of Club” on the Form.
2. Ensure that the Form is then forwarded to our Legal & Governance Department (email to [email protected]). You can either do this yourself or ask your current club to do so (in which case we recommend that you ask to be copied in).
3. We will review the Form to ensure that there is no contractual dispute between you and your club. We will also check your disciplinary record to ensure that you are not under any disciplinary suspension with more than five weeks still to be served.
4. If all is in order we will clear you out of Scotland and then email a copy of the Form to your new Union in order that you can be cleared in to that country.
Please note that we receive a considerable number of requests for clearance at the end of the Scottish domestic season. Whilst we will do our best to process your application as quickly as possible, applicants are recommended to plan accordingly.
Personal Accident Insurance
When you leave Scotland to play elsewhere you will cease to be covered under Scottish Rugby’s Club Accident Insurance Scheme. All Scottish players planning to play outwith Scotland are advised to research the insurance arrangements in their new Union. Please note in particular that the value of the catastrophic injury benefit provided in some Unions is significantly less than that provided in Scotland. In addition, in some countries injured players will be required to pay for any medical treatment they receive.
It is strongly recommended that all players seeking to play outwith Scotland ensure that they hold appropriate personal accident and medical insurance before travelling.
If you are a full time student or serving full time with your country’s armed forces you may be eligible to apply for Dual Registration. This will allow you to play in either of the Unions (subject to their domestic competition regulations) depending where you are at any given time.
1. You will require to submit your Dual Registration request to your current Union. It is likely that they will have a form for this purpose on their website.
In Scotland, the completed application should be submitted to Scottish Rugby’s Legal & Governance Department (email to [email protected]).
2. Your primary Union will then complete the Form and send to the secondary Union, who will then provide a copy of your Dual Registration form to your club in that Union.
3. The maximum duration of a Dual Registration is 12 months. A further application will be required after this date.
Please note that under Scottish Rugby's player registration procedures, the incoming player will not be eligible to play in Scotland until the clearance process is complete and Scottish Rugby has recorded his/her reference number on the player registration system.
Frequently Asked Questions
International Clearance can be a complex area. To assist those looking to change Union we have prepared a summary of Frequently Asked Questions.
Who is covered by the Regulation?
The Regulation relates only to players – it does not relate to coaches, referees, administrators or others.
Does it only cover professional rugby?
No. The Regulation covers all levels of the game from professional players through to the grassroots, though additional restrictions may apply in respect of professional players (termed under the Regulation “Contract Players”).
Does this mean that I need Clearance to play in reserve team rugby?
Yes, the Reserve Leagues are organised by Scottish Rugby and you will need Clearance to play in these.
Can I play “friendly matches” without Clearance?
Scottish Rugby insists on Clearance if you want to play in competitions organised, recognised or sanctioned by our Union. This includes our league and cup competitions, and also the likes of organised Sevens tournaments. If you want to only play in the odd scratch fixture, Clearance will not be required. Other Unions may operate a slightly different policy and if you are leaving Scotland to play elsewhere you are advised to check with your new Club / Union.
I’m only moving for a short period – do I still have to seek Clearance?
Unless you are a student or a member of the armed forces (where you may be able to Dual Register) you will need to seek Clearance if you are planning to play in any competitions organised by another Union.
Can I register to play in more than one Union?
Full time students and those in the armed services may apply to be Dual Registered, which allows them to play in two Unions (e.g. at University in Scotland during Term time and back home during the rest of the year). Please see the Dual Registration section of our website for more detail.
My club is going on Tour – do I need Clearance?
No. Clearance is not required for club tours but your club will need “Permission to Tour”.
Why are clubs requested to seek approval for a clearance to be processed?
Research indicates that not all clubs understand the UK immigration rules surrounding incoming players. The requirement aims to reduce the risk of clubs inadvertently bringing in players who are not entitled to "work" as rugby players in the UK.
On what grounds can my clearance request be refused?
A request for Clearance will not be granted if:
- The incoming players' Scottish club has not completed and returned a Request for Scottish Rugby to Process Incoming Clearance.
- You are to receive payment or benefits from playing the game in Scotland and you do not have the requisite visa entry requirements.
- You have contractual obligations with your current club which would prevent this (NB see WR Regulation 4.5.2 with regard to the required form of any player agreement); or
- You are under a playing suspension imposed by another World Rugby member Union.
What are the consequences if I play whilst not cleared to do so?
The circumstances may be investigated by our Championship Committee and a points deduction or other penalty may be applied to your club. Separately, the Discipline Manager may decide to initiate misconduct proceedings against you and / or your club.
If you can't find the information you're looking for, have a specific query or require assistance processing a Clearance please contact [email protected] or phone Nicola Murray on 0131 346 5102.
If you wish to report a concern relating to an International Clearance, or to appeal a decision with respect to a Clearance, please contact Scottish Rugby's Head of Regulation, Graham Ireland, at [email protected] or 0131 346 5004. All enquiries will be treated as confidential.