Existing UK residence documents for EU citizens

Permanent residence before 5 years

You automatically get permanent residence status in less than 5 years in certain situations.

However, you do not need a document to confirm your residence status in the UK unless:

  • you want to apply for British citizenship
  • you want to sponsor your partner’s visa application under the Immigration Rules

You and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ if you want to continue living in the UK after June 2021. Sign up for email updates to find out when the scheme will open.

When you get permanent residence in less than 5 years

If you have to stop working

You get permanent residence immediately if you have to stop working permanently (known as ‘permanent incapacity’) because of a work-related accident or illness that means you’re entitled to a UK pension.

After you’ve been resident in the UK for 2 years

If you’ve lived continuously in the UK for 2 years or more you get permanent residence if you have to stop working or being self-employed because of an accident or illness (known as ‘permanent incapacity’).

After you’ve been resident in the UK for 3 years

If you’ve lived continuously in the UK for 3 years or more, you get permanent residence when you:

  • reach State Pension age - you must have been self-employed or worked continuously in the UK for 1 year beforehand
  • retire early - you must have worked continuously in the UK for 1 year beforehand
  • start work or self-employment in another EEA country or Switzerland - you must usually return to your UK home once a week, and have worked or been self-employed in the UK continuously for 3 years or more beforehand

Using your proof of permanent residence document to apply for citizenship

To apply for citizenship, you need to have lived in the UK for:

  • at least 5 years
  • 1 year after qualifying for permanent residence status

However, you can apply after living in the UK for 3 years if your husband, wife or civil partner is a British citizen.