Guidance

Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know

Information for European Union citizens living in the UK.

This page will be updated with the latest information about the status of European Union (EU) citizens (see note 1) and their families in the UK.

The UK government has reached an agreement with the European Union on citizens’ rights in negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This will provide certainty about the future to millions of EU citizens and their families in the UK. Most importantly, it will allow you to stay here after we leave the EU on 29 March 2019, and to continue to access public funds and services.

The UK government has agreed that EU citizens and their families arriving during the implementation period, from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020, will be able to stay on the same terms but will need to register if they choose to stay for longer than 3 months.

There is no need for EU citizens living in the UK to do anything now. There will be no change to the status of EU citizens living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU. If you would like to find out the latest information you can sign up for email updates.

Note 1: We are in discussions with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland about securing the status of their citizens who are resident in the UK, and of UK nationals resident in those states. As the rights of British and Irish citizens in each other’s country are rooted in the Ireland Act 1949, Irish citizens won’t need to apply for settled status or register.

More information is available on what UK nationals travelling and living in Europe need to know.

Agreement on rights for EU citizens and their families

The agreement we have reached for EU citizens and their families is:

  • People who, by 31 December 2020, have been continuously and lawfully living here for 5 years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’. That means they will be free to live here, have access to public funds and services and go on to apply for British citizenship.

  • People who arrive by 31 December 2020, but won’t have been living here lawfully for 5 years when we leave the EU, will be able to apply to stay until they have reached the 5-year threshold. They can then also apply for settled status.

  • Family members who are living with, or join, EU citizens in the UK by 31 December 2020 will also be able to apply for settled status, usually after 5 years in the UK.

  • Close family members (spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents) will be able to join EU citizens after exit, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020.

EU citizens with settled status or temporary permission to stay will have the same access as they currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits in the UK.

More information is available in the joint report about the agreement reached between the UK and the European Union on citizens’ rights.

See our case studies for examples of how individual EU citizens’ status in the UK will be affected by the UK’s exit from the EU.

EU citizens' rights flowchart

Assessment of settled status applications

You’ll be able to apply for settled status if you’re a citizen, or the family member of a citizen, of an EU country. We’ve agreed with the EU that the conditions for EU citizens and their family members to get settled status in the UK will be the same as, or more generous than, those set out in the existing Free Movement Directive. In most cases this means you will need 5 years of continuous residence in the UK.

If you meet the criteria and submit a valid application you will be granted status, unless:

  • you weren’t resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 (see note 2)
  • you’re refused on the grounds of your serious criminal convictions or for security reasons

The withdrawal agreement will become a part of UK law and so the Home Office will not be able to refuse an application for any reason not covered by the agreement.

More information on our proposed procedures for processing settled status applications is available (in English).

Note 2: Unless you’re a close family member of an EU citizen living in the UK but were living outside the UK when the UK left the EU.

Applying for settled status

EU citizens and their family members in the UK will need to apply to get their status document. Getting this status will prove (for example, to employers or public service providers) that they have permission to continue living and working here in future.

The application fee will be no more than the cost charged to British citizens for a UK passport. If you already have a valid permanent residence document, it will be free.

We’re making the application process as streamlined, quick and user-friendly as possible. We’ll use existing government data to reduce the amount of evidence you will need to provide. For example, HMRC’s employment records will show us your UK work history.

As an EU citizen applying to the scheme, you will need to:

  • provide an identity document and a recent photograph to confirm your identity and nationality
  • declare any criminal convictions

You won’t have to:

  • account for every trip you’ve taken out of the UK
  • show evidence that you held comprehensive sickness insurance (see note 3 below)
  • give your fingerprints

We expect the online application form to go live in late 2018. Sign up for email updates for more details.

The Home Office will provide support to ensure your application isn’t turned down because of simple errors or omissions. We will contact you where it appears a simple omission has taken place and help you fix it. We will also let you know if you need to provide more evidence, before a decision is made.

So people have enough time to apply, the scheme will remain open for applications until 30 June 2021. During this period your rights in the UK will be protected. If you apply under the scheme, but don’t receive a decision before the end of this period, you can continue living here until the decision is made.

Note 3: In some circumstances, comprehensive sickness insurance is still required for the purposes of accessing the healthcare system in the UK, but will no longer be considered as a requirement for acquiring settled status.

Permanent residence status under EU law

Before the end of the implementation period, you don’t need to apply for a document to prove you can live in the UK unless:

A permanent residence document confirms that you have rights under European law. In the future, EU law will no longer apply and the migration and status of EU nationals will be subject to UK law.

There will be a simple process for you to exchange this for a settled status document free of charge and we won’t repeat any assessment of residence.

You will need to:

  • provide an identity document and a recent photograph to confirm your identity and nationality
  • confirm you still live in the UK
  • declare any criminal convictions

Sign up for email updates for more details of when you’ll be able to apply to stay in the UK under the new settled status scheme and what steps you’ll need to take.

Indefinite leave to remain

Indefinite leave to remain status will not be affected by the UK leaving the EU.

Once the application scheme for settled status opens there will be a simple process for you to exchange your old indefinite leave to remain document for a settled status document free of charge, should you wish to prove you benefit from the withdrawal agreement. We won’t repeat any assessment of residence.

You will need to:

  • provide an identity document and a recent photograph to confirm your identity
  • confirm you still live in the UK
  • declare any criminal convictions

You can apply for a biometric residence permit if you want an updated document confirming you have indefinite leave to remain now.

UK employers and EU citizen employees

EU citizens working in the UK and UK businesses employing EU citizens don’t need to do anything now.

We are working closely with businesses and others to look at how they will be affected by the changes.

In July 2017, the government commissioned the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to gather evidence on patterns of EU migration and the role of migration in the wider economy, ahead of our exit from the EU. The MAC has been asked to report back by September 2018 and its evidence will help us to develop the future immigration system. On 27 March 2018 the MAC published an interim report.

Published 7 April 2017
Last updated 14 May 2018 + show all updates
  1. French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish translations updated.
  2. Guidance updated following agreement on implementation period.
  3. French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish translations updated.
  4. Guidance updated following agreement on implementation period.
  5. Added link to news story "plans outlined to extend 'settled status' deal to citizens from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway".
  6. French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish translations added.
  7. Guidance updated following agreement with the EU on citizens' rights.
  8. Guidance updated: agreement reached on EU on citizens’ rights in the UK.
  9. New information about application processes added.
  10. French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish translations added.
  11. Information added about the UK government’s offer for EU citizens and their families.
  12. First published.