This page explains the rights European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, Swiss nationals and their family have to come to the United Kingdom to visit live or work.
EEA and Swiss nationals have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom. This is called the right of residence. You will only have the right of residence in the United Kingdom if:
- you are an EEA or Swiss national; and
- you are working in the United Kingdom; or
- you are able to support yourself and family in the United Kingdom without the help of public funds.
Entering the United Kingdom
When you enter the United Kingdom you will need to 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 make sure that it is valid and belongs to you.
If you have a right to live the in the United Kingdom, your family may join you. You family is defined as:
- your spouse or civil partner;
- children or grandchildren or you, your spouse or your civil partner, who are under 21 years of age or who are dependent upon you;
- the parents or grandparents of you, your spouse or your civil partner.
If you are a student only your spouse, civil partner or dependent children are entitled to a right of residence.
Other relatives, for example extended family members such as brothers, sisters and cousins do not have an automatic right to live in the United Kingdom. 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.
Family members who are not EEA or Swiss nationals
If your family members are not EEA or Swiss nationals and 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 United Kingdom. The EEA family permit is similar to a visa and is issued by UKvisas. Your family members should make an application for an EEA family permit at their nearest British diplomatic post.
You and your family members can:
- accept offers of work;
- work (whether as an employee or in self-employment);
- set up a business;
- manage a company;
- set up a local branch of a company.
You will not need to apply for a work permit. You should not be discriminated against by your employer because of your nationality in terms of conditions of employment, pay or working conditions.
If you are a national of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia you will need to register under the Worker Registration Scheme when you take work in the United Kingdom. You should read the Worker Registration Scheme section for details.
If you are a national of Bulgaria or Romania you must not work until we have given you permission. You should read the section for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals for details.
Registration certificates, residence cards and family member residence stamps
A registration certificate is a document issued to EEA nationals that confirms that person's right of residence under European law. You are not required to have a registration certificate to enter, live or work in the United Kingdom.
Residence cards are issued to non-EEA national family members. The card confirms that person's right of residence under European law.
Non-EEA national family members of nationals of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia are not eligible to apply for a residence card until the EEA national has completed 12 months continuous employment in the United Kingdom. Non-EEA national family members can apply for a family member residence stamp to confirm his/her right of residence under European law.
For details on how to apply for a registration certificate, residence card or family member residence stamp, you should read the page on applying.
Once you have lived in the United Kingdom for a continuous period of five years, you are entitled to apply for confirmation of permanent residence.
You do not have to work while you are living in the United Kingdom. If you do not work you must be able to support yourself without the use of public funds.
For a full list see the Visa Directory