Last checked: 13/05/2020

Your non-EU spouse and children

Affected by Brexit?

Questions and Answers – the rights of EU and UK citizens, as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement

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

Current rules on reporting presence, registering your residence abroad, registering your EU family, registering your non-EU family continue to apply until at least 31 December 2020.

I need help

If you think that your rights under EU law are not being respected, contact our assistance services.

Detailed information on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and citizen’s rights

If you are married or in a registered partnership with an EU citizen that is living, working, studying or looking for a job in an EU country different from the one they come from, EU rules make it easier for you to join them there. The information on this page applies also to children and grandchildren joining their EU family ​abroad.

If you want to join your EU spouse or registered partner in their country of origin and you haven't lived together in another EU country before, only national rules will apply to your situation.

If you are in a same-sex marriage and you move to another EU country, your host country must recognise your residence rights. This rule applies even if same-sex marriages are not recognised in the host country.

Check what rights you have and the procedures you may need to follow depending on your situation:

Choose a situation

Some EU countries treat civil and registered partnerships in the same way as they treat married couples. In this case, you should check the applicable residence rights and conditions for non-EU spouses.

Other EU countries do not recognise civil and registered partnerships as being equivalent to marriage. In this case, you should check the applicable residence rights and conditions for other non-EU relatives.

Find out about the recognition of civil partnerships in Europe.

In this case, national immigration rules usually apply. For more information, contact the immigration authorities in the relevant EU country.

If you are a non-EU citizen married to an EU citizen, you can join your spouse in the EU country where they live.

Staying abroad for up to 3 months

If you stay for less than 3 months, all you need is a valid passport and an entry visa depending on the country you are from.

Check the entry visa requirements/exemptions in the EU.

Before you leave, check with the consulate of the country you are going to if you need an entry visa, and if so, how long it will take to get it.

Staying abroad for more than 3 months

If you are staying for longer than 3 months in your spouse's host country, you have to apply for a residence card and report your presence to the relevant authorities.

Residence card

You must apply for a residence document with the authorities in your host EU country (often the town hall or local police station) within 3 months of arriving.

Reporting your presence

Some EU countries require you to report your presence to the relevant authorities within a reasonable period after arrival. You may need to pay a fine if you fail to report your presence on time.

Before moving to your host EU country, please check the deadlines and relevant conditions for reporting your presence with the national authorities.

You should carry your passport with you at all times.

In some EU countries, you can be fined or temporarily detained if you leave your passport at home, but you cannot be forced to return to your home country for this reason alone.

If your EU spouse is a worker

If your EU spouse is legally employed in another EU country, you can stay there with them without having to meet any conditions.

If your EU spouse is a pensioner

If your EU spouse is a pensioner living in another EU country, you can stay there with them if they have sufficient income to live without needing income support and comprehensive health insurance for the whole family in that country.

If your EU spouse is a student

If your EU spouse is a student living in another EU country, you can stay with them if they:

What happens to your residence rights if your spouse dies?

If you were living legally in another EU country and your EU spouse died before acquiring permanent residence there, you may stay if you had been living there for at least 1 year before they died.

To be able to stay, you must also meet the same conditions for residence as EU nationals.

Check the conditions and formalities for:

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

If you divorce your EU spouse before they acquired permanent residence in their host country (which usually requires them to have lived there for 5 years) - you may stay if:

You can also stay if you have:

In the case of your right of access to a minor child, you can stay in the host EU country for as long as this is required.

To be able to stay, you must meet the same conditions for residence as EU nationals. Check the conditions and formalities for:

Equal treatment

During your stay you should be treated in the same way as nationals of your host country, notably regarding access to employment, pay, benefits, access to work and enrolment in schools.

Even if you are staying as a tourist, you shouldn't, for example, have to pay more when visiting museums or buying transport tickets.

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

Deportation

Your new country can, in exceptional cases, decide to deport you on grounds of public policy, public security, or public health - but only if it can prove that you represent a serious threat.

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

Permanent residence

You acquire the right of permanent residence if you have lived legally in your host EU country for 5 continuous years.

You can then stay as long as you want even if you don't work and need income support. You should enjoy the same rights, benefits and advantages as EU nationals.

Your continuity of residence is not affected by:

You can lose your right to permanent residence if you live outside the country for more than 2 consecutive years.

EU legislation

Need more information on rules in a specific country?

Need support from assistance services?

Get in touch with specialised assistance services

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