This page explains the rights that nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA), Swiss nationals and their families have to come to the UK to visit, live or work.
As an EEA or Swiss national, you have the right to live and work in the UK (known as the 'right of residence') if:
When you enter the UK, you must show your passport or national identity card. You should use the separate channel marked 'EEA/EU', where it is available. Immigration officers will check your passport or national identity card to ensure that it is valid and belongs to you.
If you have a right to live the in the UK, your family may join you here. Your family is defined as:
If you are a student, only your spouse, civil partner or dependent children are entitled to a right of residence.
Other relatives (including extended family members such as brothers, sisters and cousins) do not have an automatic right to live in the UK. To be considered, the extended family member must be able to demonstrate that they are dependent on you.
If you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership, you must be able to show that you are in a durable relationship with each other.
If your family members are not EEA or Swiss nationals and they are coming to live with you permanently or on a long-term basis, they will need to apply for an EEA family permit before coming to the UK. The EEA family permit is similar to a visa, and your family members should apply for it at their nearest British diplomatic post. Our Visa services section contains more information.
You and your family members can:
You will not need to apply for a work permit. Your employer should not discriminate against you because of your nationality in terms of conditions of employment, pay or working conditions.
If you are a Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovakian or Slovenian national, you will need to register under the Worker Registration Scheme when you take work in the UK. You should read the Worker Registration Scheme section for details.
If you are a national of Bulgaria or Romania, you may not work until we have given you permission. You should read the section for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals for details.
A registration certificate is a document, issued to EEA nationals, that confirms the holder's right of residence under European law. You do not need a registration certificate to enter, live or work in the UK.
Residence cards are issued to EEA nationals' family members who are not EEA nationals themselves. The card is in fact a sticker (also called a 'vignette'), placed in your passport, which confirms your right of residence in the UK under European law. It is normally valid for 5 years, and you should produce it as evidence of your status when asked to do so. (In some circumstances, we may issue you with an immigration status document instead of an vignette in your passport. You should produce this document and your passport as evidence of your status when asked to do so.)
If the EEA national is from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia, their non-EEA family members cannot apply for a residence card until the EEA national has completed 12 months' continuous employment in the UK. Until that time, each non-EEA national family member can apply for a family member residence stamp to confirm their right of residence under European law.
For details of how to apply for a registration certificate, residence card or family member residence stamp, see the Applying page.
After you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years, you can apply for confirmation of permanent residence. For details of how to apply, see the Applying page.
If you are an EEA or Swiss national and your application is successful, we will issue you with a document which confirms that your are a permanent resident in the UK. This document has no expiry date, and you should produce it when asked to do so.
If you are a non-EEA national and your application is successful, we will issue you with an endorsement - this is a sticker (also called a 'vignette') which is placed in your passport. The endorsement is valid for 10 years, and you should produce it when asked to do so. (In some circumstances, we may issue you with an immigration status document instead of an endorsement. You should produce this document and your passport as evidence of your status when asked to do so.)
If you are a Swiss national or Swiss company that conducts business in the UK, you may send employees to work for you in the UK for up to 90 days without needing to apply for a work permit. Those employees must have been working for you in Switzerland or in an EEA member state for a reasonable period of time. If your employees are not EEA or Swiss nationals, they will need to apply for posted workers authorisation.
Visa services is responsible for processing applications for posted workers authorisation. You should contact your nearest British diplomatic post for details of how to apply.
You do not have to work while you are living in the UK. But if you do not work, you must be able to support yourself and your family in the UK without becoming an unreasonable burden on public funds.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU) but citizens of these countries have the same rights to enter, live in and work in the United Kingdom as EU citizens.
Public funds are benefits, paid by the UK government, that are related to your income. Claiming public funds when you are not entitled to them is known as 'benefit fraud', and is a criminal offence. For a list of public funds, see the Public funds page.