Reporters, photographers and in particular those who work freelance may be asked for proof that they are a genuine working journalist when covering events such as political demonstrations, government press conferences, court reporting and international events. Here is how your trade union can help plus some tips drawn from branch members’ experiences reporting in the Netherlands over 20 years.

The NUJ Press Card

Available free to all staff, freelance and temporary members just apply on-line at It is valid for two years and recognised by a host of official bodies such as the police and the army. Though obviously intended for use mainly in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, our experience is that it is recognised in the Netherlands, Belgium and France too.

When applying one has to provide proof of recent work and evidence that at least half of your income is derived from journalism. Temporary members can only receive a card for one year.  There is also a student press card for people studying journalism or working for a student newspaper. Associate or retired members are not eligible.

NUJ Membership Card

This is issued free to all members for life. If you have not got one then contact head office. It has your name, signature, NUJ number and date of issue with phone numbers and web pages for NUJ offices on the back. Though this cannot be officially used for press accreditation it can come in useful in practice to allay any doubts that you are a journalist.

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

If you are regularly working in countries other than the UK and Ireland then the NUJ recommends you apply for an IFJ card. This can only be done through your NUJ membership at Do not apply or send money through any other route as a scam was recently been operating. It costs £100 for two years and you will need proof of recent work.

Obviously an IFJ card is the gold standard allowing you to work in any country and particularly in conflict zones. However, if you would rather save the money then the NUJ card is generally recognised in Western Europe.

Nederlands Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ) press card

For those branch members who are also members of the NVJ you can also apply for an NVJ card. It is free for staff (werknemer) or freelance (freelancer) membership and costs €49.95 for people with the basic (basis) membership. All applications are judged on supplying evidence of recent work. The NVJ card is also recognised abroad in the US and in conflict zones. See

And so…

Trade unions do not give out press cards lightly as they in turn have to negotiate with the different organisations who are being expected to recognise them. It is therefore important only bone fide journalists have them.

That said practice can be very different. Trying to argue your rights with a security heavy or jobsworth particularly if there is any perceived threat to public order may be a waste of precious time. An NUJ press can’t do any harm but often a passport, driving licence or other proof of identity helps too.
In a less challenging environment, especially where organisations actually want journalists to attend rather than keep them away, then simply a membership card plus any recent examples of work, printed out emails or commissioning letters will do the trick. It is also useful for freelancers if the people commissioning you contact the organisers of an event so you are on a press list.  Or you yourself can contact organisers in advance tell them you are coming and get a named contact and have a chat.

In all circumstances remain calm, firm, persistent but polite, no matter how justified you may be in your right to attend an event. Charm and good humour will get you further than veiled threats and aggression.

In the wake of the failed coup in Turkey, journalists are being targeted by the government. The news changes daily but you can keep up by checking out or for the latest, including the closing of a pro-Kurdish newspaper, the call by the International Federation of Journalists for an end to the crackdown and the murder of journalist Wedat Hussein Ali.

Blendle, the Dutch news kiosk website we've been following since it opened its doors, has started beta testing its service in the US. "Journalism should be less reliant on ads," says Blendle founder Alexander Klöpping, who published the announcement in a long article on Medium discussing the philosophy behind the news site.

Journalism needs a Spotify, a Netflix, an iTunes — whatever you want to call it. One website that houses the best newspapers and magazines in the country, that allows people to browse through everything and only pay for the stories they like, where you can see what your friends recommended. And where it’s really easy to just get the 8 or 10 best stories published every day, and discover those really great pieces.

Read the rest: With the biggest publishers in the country on board, we’re launching our journalistic startup in the US today

The National Union of Journalists has welcomed the decision of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to challenge Ireland's failure to treat freelance workers in accordance with the rights enshrined in the organisation's convention.

Following a complaint by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) the Irish government faces questions at the ILO assembly in Geneva about the treatment of freelance workers, who are denied the right to be collectively represented by unions as a result of the actions of the former Competition Authority in Ireland.

The complaint was lodged with the support of the NUJ and sister union SIPTU.

In a separate, significant development in Dáil Éireann on Wednesday night, the parliament unanimously backed a Labour motion requiring the new minority government to bring forward a suite of  labour law reforms, including legislation to restore collective bargaining right for freelance workers.

Read more:

The Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) has its second reading in the House of Commons. Although there is much high level resistance to the Bill, relatively little of it has focussed on the impact on the media, in particular to the inadequate protection of journalists' sources. Read the rest at The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog.

See also

Investigatory Powers Bill - update NUJ, 17 March 2016