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Workers and pensioners

Updated : 16/10/2013

Non-EU family members

My spouse / children / parents

Find out about the rights of your family members who are not EU nationals and want to live with you in your new country.

Staying abroad for up to 3 months

Your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents may stay with you in another EU country. If they stay for less than 3 months, all they need is a valid passport and sometimes, depending on the country they are from, an entry visa.

More about entry visa requirements/exemptions.

Before you leave, please check with the consulate of the country you are going to whether your non-EU family members will require an entry visa, and how long it will take to obtain.

Reporting presence

Some EU countries require your non-EU spouse, (grand) children or (grand) parents to report their presence within a reasonable period of time after arrival and may impose a penalty, such as a fine, if they do not.

Before they go to the other country, please check the deadlines and relevant conditions for reporting presence with the national authorities.

Your spouse, children or parents should carry their passport with them at all times.

In some EU countries, they can be fined or temporarily detained if they leave their passport at home, but they cannot be expelled just for this.

Equal treatment

During their stay, they should be treated as nationals of the country, notably as regards access to employment, pay, benefits facilitating access to work, enrolment in schools etc.

Even if they are staying as a tourist, they should not, for example, have to pay higher fees to visit museums or when buying transport tickets, etc.

Exception: If you are a pensioner, some EU countries may decide not to grant you and your family income support for the first 3 months in that country.

Expulsion

Your new country can, in exceptional cases, decide to expel your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents on grounds of public policy, public security, or public health - but only if it can prove they represent a serious threat.

The expulsion decision must be given to them in writing. It must state all the grounds and specify how they can appeal and by when.

Staying abroad for more than 3 months

Workers

If you are working in another country – as an employee, self-employed or on a posting, your non-EU spouse, (grand) children or (grand)parents can stay there with you without having to meet any other conditions.

Pensioners

If you are a pensioner living in another country, your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents can also live there with you if you have (for you and your whole family):

  • sufficient income to live without needing income support
  • comprehensive health insurance in that country.

National authorities may not require your income to be above the level that would qualify your family for basic income support in that country.

Residence card

Your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents must apply for a residence document with the authorities in the new country (often the town hall or local police station) within 3 months of arriving. To do so they will need:

  • a valid passport
  • your registration certificate as an EU national or any other proof of your residence in that country
  • proof of your family relationship, such as a marriage or birth certificate
  • for (grand)children, proof they are under 21 or dependent on you
  • for (grand)parents, proof they are dependent on you.

No other documents may be requested.

The residence card is often issued free of charge (or at the same charge as identity cards for nationals).

On the residence card it should be clearly stated that it is a residence card of an EU national family member.

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 service.

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

In many countries, your spouse, (grand) children or (grand)parents will need to carry their residence card and passport at all times. If they leave them at home, they may be fined but they cannot be expelled just for this.

Registration

Your spouse, children or parents must register with the authorities in the new country (often the town hall or local police station) within 3 months of arriving. They will then be issued with a residence card.

To obtain a residence card, your non-EU spouse, children or parents will need:

  • a valid passport
  • your registration certificate as an EU national or any other proof of your residence in the country
  • proof of your family relationship, such as a marriage or birth certificate
  • for children, proof they are under 21 or dependent on you
  • for parents, proof they are dependent on you.

They cannot be required to show any other documents.

The residence card is often issued free of charge. If fees are charged, they may not be more than those charged to nationals for similar documents.

On the residence card it should be clearly stated residence card of an EU national family member.

The authorities should make their decision and deliver the residence card within 6 months. If they do not do so, you can call on our assistance services.

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.

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

Equal treatment

During their stay in your new country, your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents should be treated as nationals, notably as regards access to employment, pay and benefits facilitating access to work, enrolment in schools, etc.

Request to leave / Expulsion

Your non-EU spouse, (grand) children or (grand) parents may live with you in another EU country as long as they continue to meet the conditions for residence. If they no longer do so, the national authorities may require them to leave - but they cannot be expelled.

In exceptional cases, your new country can decide to expel them on grounds of public policy or public security, but only if it can prove they represent a very serious threat.

The expulsion decision or request to leave must be given to them in writing, stating all the grounds and specifying how they can appeal and by when.

Sample story

Your family members who are not EU nationals have EU rights too

Irina is German and lives in the United Kingdom. Her Russian mother applied for a residence card in the United Kingdom, for which she was required to hand in her passport.

The British authorities told Irina that issuing the residence card could take up to 1 year. Irina's mother was worried that if she couldn't get her passport back in time, she wouldn't be able to go to Russia for Christmas, or be allowed back into the UK afterwards.

In fact, the residence rights of non-EU family members mean that the British authorities had to issue a residence card within 6 months and could not keep the passport during that period.

Death

If you were living legally in another EU country and died before acquiring permanent residence there, your non-EU spouse, (grand) children or (grand) parents may stay if they had been living there for at least 1 year before your death.

To be able to stay, your non-EU family members must also meet the same conditions for residence as EU nationals.

Check conditions and formalities for:

Divorce

If you got divorced before acquiring permanent residence in the other country (which usually requires living there for 5 years) – your non-EU spouse, (grand)children and (grand)parents may stay if:

  • they have been living there for at least 1 year, and
  • your marriage lasted for at least 3 years before divorce proceedings started

To be able to stay, your non-EU family members must also meet the same conditions for residence as EU nationals.

Check conditions and formalities for:

Permanent residence

After living legally in another EU country continuously for 5 years, your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents automatically acquire the right of permanent residence there without having to meet any further conditions - they can stay as long as they want even if they don't work and need income support.

Their continuity of residence is not affected by:

  • temporary absences (less than 6 months a year)
  • longer absences (compulsory military service)
  • one absence of no more than 12 consecutive months for important reasons like pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, work, vocational training or a posting to another country.

They should enjoy the same rights, benefits and advantages as nationals.

They can lose their right to permanent residence if they live outside the country over 2 consecutive years.

Workers

If you were working or self-employed in another EU country and died before acquiring permanent residence there, your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents may receive special treatment. This may include permission to stay permanently if:

  • your death resulted from an accident at work or occupational disease, or
  • at the time of your death, you had lived continuously in that country for at least 2 years.

Permanent residence card

Find out how to have a permanent residence card issued to certify their right to stay unconditionally.

Request to leave / Expulsion

Your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents may live with you in another EU country as long as they continue to meet the conditions for residence. If they no longer do so, the national authorities may require them to leave - but they cannot be expelled.

In exceptional cases, your new country can decide to expel them on grounds of public policy or public security but only if it can prove they represent a very serious threat.

The expulsion decision or the request to leave must be given to them in writing, stating all the grounds, how they can appeal and by when.

Still need help?

Still need help?

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Footnote

In this case, the 27 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

Retour au texte en cours.

In this case, the 27 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

Retour au texte en cours.