Last checked: 13/06/2022

Your EU spouse and children

As an EU national, you can join your EU spouse in another EU country either because of your own EU rights or as their dependant. The information on this page applies also to children and grandchildren that are EU citizens and are joining their EU family ​abroad.

Staying because of your own rights

As an EU citizen, you have the right to move to any EU country to live, work, study, look for a job or retire.

You can stay in another EU country for up to 3 months without registering there but you may need to report your presence. The only requirement is to hold a valid national identity card or passport. If you want to stay longer than 3 months, you may need to register your residence.

In many EU countries, you need to carry an identity card or passport with you at all times. In these countries, you could be fined or temporarily detained if you leave your identity documents at home - but you cannot be forced to return to your home country for this reason alone. Read more about deportation.

If you have lived legally in another EU country for a continuous period of 5 years, you automatically acquire the right of permanent residence there.

Staying as a dependant

If you don't plan to work, look for a job, or study in your new EU country, you can still join your spouse or registered partner as their dependant.


Some EU countries do not recognise civil and registered partnerships as being equivalent to marriage, so they may not consider you a dependent partner. In this case, check the applicable residence rights and conditions for other relatives.

Find out about the recognition of civil partnerships in Europe.


After 3 months in your new EU country, you will have to register your residence there.

You will need to submit the following documents to the town hall or the local police station:

No other documents may be requested.

Your registration certificate will be issued immediately.


The registration certificate should cost no more than nationals pay for their identity cards or similar documents.


Your registration certificate is valid indefinitely (it does not have to be renewed), but any change of address may need to be reported to the local authorities.

Where and how to register by country

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

Choose country

If required by the host country, you can be fined but not expelled if you don't:

If you have problems getting a registration certificate, you can contact our assistance servicesOpen as an external link.

What happens to your residence rights if you divorce your spouse?

As you are an EU citizen, divorcing your partner does not affect your right to stay in your host EU country if you meet the conditions to stay because of your own rights.

Check the conditions and formalities for:

If you aren't planning to work or study in your host EU country, you have to prove that you have comprehensive sickness insurance cover and sufficient resources.

What happens to your residence rights if your spouse dies?

If your spouse or registered partner was working or was self-employed in another EU country and died before acquiring permanent residence there, you may get permission to stay permanently in your host EU country:

Request to leave and deportation

You may live in another EU country as long as you continue to meet the conditions for residence. If you no longer do so, the national authorities may require you to leave.

In exceptional cases, your host country can deport you on grounds of public policy or public security - but only if it can prove you represent a serious threat.

The deportation decision or the request to leave must be given to you in writing. It must state all the reasons for your deportation and specify how you can appeal and by when.

Permanent residence

As a dependent family member, you have the right to permanent residence even if you don't work and need income support. You should enjoy the same rights, benefits and advantages as nationals.

Find out how to get a permanent residence document certifying your unconditional right to stay.


EU legislation

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