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Updated : 07/09/2017

Registering your non-EU family members in another EU country

During their first 3 months in your host country, your family members who are not EU nationals cannot be required to apply for a residence card confirming their right to live there - although in some countries they may have to report their presence upon arrival.

After 3 months in your host country, your non-EU family members must register their residence with the relevant authorities (often the town hall or local police station). 

To obtain a residence card, they will need:

  • a valid passport
  • your registration certificate as an EU national or any other proof of your residence in the country
  • proof of the family relationship with you (such as a marriage or birth certificate)
  • for (grand)children, proof they are under 21 or dependent on you
  • for (grand)parents, proof that they are dependent on you
  • for other family members, proof that they are dependent on you or there are serious health ground requiring you to take personal care of them
  • for unmarried partners, proof of a long-term or durable relationship with you

No other documents may be requested

The authorities should make their decision to issue a residence card or not within 6 months. If they do not do so, you can call on our assistance services. In any case, your non-EU family members cannot be expelled if their visa expired while their application is being processed.

If their application is rejected, the authorities must give them the decision in writing, stating the grounds for the decision and its implications, and specifying how your relatives/partner can appeal and by when.

If their application is accepted, the residence card will often be issued free of charge. If fees are charged, they may not be more than those charged to nationals for similar documents, such as identity cards.

The document should clearly state that it is the residence card of an EU national family member.

The residence card should be valid for 5 years (or for your planned length of stay, if shorter). Any change of address may need to be reported to the authorities.

Your family members may use their residence card to travel to another EU country but if they want to move to another EU country, they have to apply for another residence card in the new host country. And as long as they are dependent on you, you have to move with them.

Sample story

James is an American citizen living in Italy with his mother and his Italian stepfather, Giuseppe. James would like to move to Spain and look for a job. His parents cannot move with him but are in a position to support him financially.

When applying for a residence card in Spain, the Spanish immigration authorities told James that although he has a residence permit in Italy as a family member of an EU citizen, this does not give him the automatic right to Spanish residency. His right to reside in the EU is dependent on Giuseppe's EU citizenship. Giuseppe would have to move with James to Spain and prove that he has sufficient economic resources for both of them.

Find out where and how to register your non-EU family members in your host country:

Choose country

In many countries, your family members will need to carry their residence card and passport at all times.  If they leave them at home, they may be fined or temporarily detained but cannot be expelled just for this.

See also how to register your EU family members.

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