Last checked: 17/11/2020

Jobseekers - residence rights

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

As an EU national, you have the right to go and look for work in another EU country.

If you have been working in another EU country and you lose your job, or if you are self-employed and you run out of work, you can keep your right to live there under certain conditions.

Choose a situation:

The first 6 months

Reporting your presence

As a jobseeker, you don't need to register as a resident for the first 6 months.

But some EU countries require you to report your presence here to the relevant authorities within a reasonable period after arrival: often at the town hall or local police station.

Registering with the employment services

If you are being paid unemployment benefits from your home country, you will have to register with the employment service in your host country. You and your family will still be covered by the social security system in your home country, for instance for healthcare costs.

Even if you don't receive unemployment benefits from your home country, you may still be covered by its social security system: check with the social security authority in your home country.

While you're being covered by your home health insurance during your stay abroad, healthcare procedures may be simpler if you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Sample story

No need to register your residence immediately

Marta is Portuguese and moved to Spain 4 months ago to try to find a job there. At the moment, she is living at a friend's house. The Spanish police asked her to register her residence at the town hall and to prove she had sufficient means to support herself while in Spain.

As a jobseeker, Marta is entitled to stay in Spain for at least 6 months without having to register her residence there. She only has to prove that she is a jobseeker who is actively looking for a job. The Spanish authorities cannot require her to demonstrate she can support herself financially.

Still looking for a job after 6 months

Assessment of your right to stay

If you have not found a job during the first 6 months of your stay, the national authorities can assess your right to stay longer. For this, they will ask for evidence that you:

Always keep copies of your job applications, responses from potential employers, invitations for interviews and so on.

You are not required to register with the employment services in your new country unless you are receiving unemployment benefit from your home country. But if you do register, it will help you to prove that you are actively looking for a job.

Can you be deported or asked to leave?

Your host country can ask you to leave if you can't prove that you have a realistic chance of finding work there.

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

The deportation decision or 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.

Equal treatment

As a jobseeker, you are entitled to be treated in the same way as nationals of your host country with regard to:

Your host country might wait until you have established a genuine link with the local job market before granting certain types of financial support to help you find work - such as low-interest loans for unemployed people to do training courses. Being in the country and looking for work for a reasonable amount of time may count as a genuine link.

However, during your stay as a jobseeker, you don't have a right to non-contributory welfare benefits.

If you have been working in another EU country and you lose your job, or if you are self-employed and you run out of work, you can keep your right to live there under certain conditions.

How long you can stay will depend on how long you have been working in your new country and the type of contract you had before you lost your job.

If you are temporarily unable to work as a result of an illness or accident, you can stay for as long as this condition lasts and prevents you from working.

Equal treatment

While you stay in your host country after losing your job, you should continue to enjoy the same rights as nationals of that country, including:

Can you be requested to leave or be deported?

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

Check your rights to stay according to your situation:

If you had a permanent contract or a fixed-term contract for less than 1 year and you lost your job before the end of the 1-year period, you have the right to stay in your host country for at least another 6 months, provided you are looking for work.

The 6-month period starts from the moment your contract ends.

You must register with the public employment service as involuntarily unemployed and look for work.

Sample story

You can stay abroad even if you lose your job

Sabrina is a German national who went to Greece to work in a small hotel. She had a 9-month contract, but her employer decided to stop her contract after the first 4 months. After she registered as involuntarily unemployed with the Greek unemployment services, she was allowed to stay for another 6 months while she was looking for a new job.

If you lose your job after having worked in your host country for more than 1 year, you have the right to continue to live there, provided you are registered as a jobseeker and continue to meet the conditions required to be considered as a jobseeker.

To keep the right to stay in your host country when you lose your job or are not professionally active (self-employed), you must register as a job seeker with the employment service in your host country.

You can stay as long as you are registered as a jobseeker with the public employment service and continue to meet the conditions required for jobseekers.

If you become involuntarily unemployed and begin vocational training, you have the right to stay in your new country for the entire duration of your training.

If you have become unemployed voluntarily, you have the right to stay in your host country for the whole duration of your training but only if that training is related to your previous employment.

If it is not, you can stay in your new country under the same conditions as students.

Read more about rights and conditions for students.

To keep the right to stay in your new country for the whole duration of your vocational training, you must register as a jobseeker with the authorities in your host country. This also applies if you are voluntarily unemployed.

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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