Permanent residence (>5 years) for EU nationals
Affected by Brexit?
On 1 January 2021, the rules for EU citizens living in or moving to the UK will change. The same applies to UK nationals living in or moving to an EU country.
I have permanent residence in the UK/EU or will acquire it during the transition period
In principle, you and your family members will continue to have permanent residence in your host country. This includes non‑EU family members. In the UK, you must however apply to the EU settlement scheme to be granted a new residence status. In the EU, check with your host country’s authorities as soon as possible if it is mandatory to apply for a new residence status.
I reside in the UK/EU but am not yet entitled to permanent residence
In principle, you and your family members will continue to keep your current residence in your host country. This includes non‑EU family members. In the UK, you must however apply to the EU settlement scheme to be granted a new residence status. In the EU, check with your host country’s authorities as soon as possible if it is mandatory to apply for a new residence status.
I want to move to the UK/EU
You and your family members may move to the UK or to an EU country under the current EU rules until 31 December 2020. This includes non‑EU family members. In the UK, you must then apply to the EU settlement scheme. In the EU, check with your host country’s authorities whether you have to register and if it is mandatory to apply for a new residence status.
I want to go to the UK/EU for a short stay
I need help
If you think that your rights under EU law are not being respected, contact our assistance services.
Acquiring the right of permanent residence
As an EU national, you automatically acquire the right of permanent residence in another EU country if you have lived there legally for a continuous period of 5 years. If you fulfil this requirement, you can apply for a permanent residence document, which confirms your right to live in the country where you now live permanently, without any conditions.
This is different from the registration certificate which is compulsory in many countries. The permanent residence document is not compulsory.
But it can be useful when dealing with the authorities or for administrative formalities. The authorities may no longer require you to prove that you have a job, sufficient resources, health insurance, and so on.
Applying for a permanent residence document
To get a document certifying your right of permanent residence, you must submit proof that you have been living legally in the country for 5 years.
You need to send different supporting documents with your application, depending on your situation (employed, self-employed, jobseeker, pensioner, student). This could include:
- a valid registration certificate issued when you arrived in the host country
- evidence that you've been living in the country, such as utility bills and rental contracts
- evidence such as payslips, bank statements, tax returns that you've been working, studying, self-employed, self-sufficient or looking for work
The authorities must issue the permanent residence document as soon as possible and cannot charge you more than nationals pay for their identity cards. If they do not, you can call on our assistance services.
The document is automatically renewable without any condition or requirement. However, its validity may differ depending on the issuing country.
Qualifying for permanent residence before 5 years
In some specific cases, you may apply for permanent residence before 5 years. Check if you qualify.
Losing the right of permanent residence
You can lose your right to permanent residence if you live outside the country for more than 2 consecutive years.
Permanent residence for your EU family members
The same rights apply to your EU family members. They are also entitled to a permanent residence document in the country where they have resided with you legally for a continuous period of 5 years.
Read more on the right to reside in the EU of your family members.
See also how to get permanent residence for your non-EU family members.