Residency in the UK for EU Nationals

Are you a citizen of a European Union country? Find out which regulations apply to your move...

All citizens from the EU and Switzerland are eligible to live and work in the UK, provided they have a valid passport or national identity card.

EU nationals: right of residency

On the basis of the EC Treaty, residence permits are not required for EU citizens who wish to move from one EU member state to another; however, they may be required to register their presence with the local authorities. The following purposes of stay are regarded as residence:

  • Employment (including job-seeking)
  • Study
  • Economically non-active
  • Staying as a family member of a citizen of the Union
  • Pensioners

The non-EU spouse or legal partner and family (dependent children, grandchildren, and parents) of an EU citizen have the same rights as any EU citizen in Europe. However, they will need a visa if they come from a country that has visa requirements for the EU. For unmarried couples, the definition of legal partner may vary depending on the country. 

Family Members

If one member of the family has the right to live in the UK, then the rest of the family - as defined below - may join them.

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Any children or grandchildren of either spouse or civil partner, under 21, who are dependent on the person who has the right to live in the UK
  • Parents or grandparents of either spouse or civil partner

Family members who are not EEA or Swiss nationals, must apply for an EEA family permit before coming to the UK. This is similar to a visa and is issued by UK Visas & Immigration.

Working in the UK

Nationals from the EEA and from Switzerland, may work in the UK without a work permit in all capacities, including:

  • Full or part-time contracts
  • Self-employment
  • Setting up a business
  • Managing a company
  • Setting up a local branch of a company

However, there are some exceptions for residents where permission must be granted.

Croatian nationals need to apply for a registration certificate in order to be able to work in the UK.

A general visitor (non EEA/Swiss) may be asked to provide the following documents, along with a valid passport, when arriving in the UK:

  • If employed, a letter from the employer granting leave of absence
  • If self-employed, evidence of financial resources
  • Evidence of property owned
  • Students must provide a letter from the school/college stating when their studies start and finish
  • Evidence of any travel plans
  • Evidence of savings and bank statements

Registration certificates, residence cards and family member residence stamps

A registration certificate is a document that EEA and Swiss nationals can apply for, which confirms the holder's rights of residence under European law. It is not obligatory. All the necessary forms are found on the UK Border Agency website or can be obtained from any one of the public enquiry offices in Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield or Solihull.

Nationals from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia can not apply for the certificate until they have worked continuously in the UK for a year. Family members of nationals from one of these countries may apply for a family member residence stamp (FMRS)

Documents required include:

  • A valid passport of identity care
  • Evidence that you are a qualified person.

Non-EEA family members may apply for a residence card which is valid for five years. Applications for the card, which is usually stamped in a passport, can be downloaded from the UK Border Agency website.

Permanent residence

EEA and Swiss citizens who have lived and worked in the UK for a continuous period of five years may be able to apply for permanent residence.