Residence documents for foreign nationals in the UK

There are different documents for proving your right to live in the UK. The right document for you will depend on things like:

  • your nationality
  • how long you’ve been in the UK
  • whether you have family here

You do not need a residence document if you have the ‘right to reside’ in the UK - for example, if you’re an Irish citizen.

Some current residence documents will no longer be valid after 31 December 2020.

If you’re an EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen

The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

You do not currently need a residence document to prove you can live in the UK. But you’ll usually need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 to continue living here, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

You may be able to apply for other residence documents now, however they will not be valid after 31 December 2020.

These documents are:

If you’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Which residence document you can apply for depends on whether you have a family member who is a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

If you’re the family member of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

You’ll usually need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living here after 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. You’ll get either settled or pre-settled status if your application is successful.

If you’re a close family member, you have the right to reside without a document until 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

If you’re an extended family member, for example a brother or sister of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you need a residence document now. If you do not apply to get settled or pre-settled status there are other documents you may be able to get - however none of these will be valid after 31 December 2020.

These documents are:

  • UK residence card - your family member usually needs to live or have lived here for you to be eligible
  • permanent residence card - you’ll usually need to have lived here for 5 years
  • derivative residence card - you’ll usually need to be a carer, or in education in the UK and have a parent from the EEA who previously worked or lived here

You can also currently apply for an EEA Family Permit to enter and leave the UK. It’s usually valid for 6 months.

If you do not have a family member from the EU, EEA or Switzerland

You will automatically get a biometric residence permit (BRP) if you successfully apply to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months. You can apply for a BRP if you do not already have one.

You can apply for indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK, if you meet the criteria.

You might also be eligible for a UK residence card or permanent residence card if you have ‘a retained right of residence’ - for example if you were previously married to an EEA citizen. These documents will not be valid after 31 December 2020.

If you’re a Commonwealth citizen, you may be able to apply to prove you have ‘right of abode’ in the UK.