Last checked: 14/09/2020

Travel documents for non-EU family members

Coronavirus: safely resuming travel

Travelling in the EU with your non-EU family members

Under EU rules, you have the right to travel together with your core family members (non-EU spouse, children, dependent parents or dependent grandparents) to an EU country other than the one you are a national of. If you have moved to another EU country, they can also join you there. These rules also apply to your non-EU registered partner if the country they are travelling to considers registered partnerships as equivalent to marriage.

Other non-EU extended family members - such as siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, as well as your non-EU registered partner (in countries where registered partnerships are not considered as equivalent to marriage) - may under certain conditions be entitled to have their entry facilitated when travelling together with you of when joining you in another EU country. EU countries do not automatically have to grant this right but they do at least have to consider the request.

Your non-EU family members must carry a valid passport at all times and, depending on the country they are from, they may also have to show an entry visa at the border.

There are a number of countries (see Annex II) whose nationals do not need a visa to visit the EU for three months or less. The list of countries whose nationals require visas to travel to the United Kingdom or Ireland differs slightly from other EU countries.

Contact the consulate or embassy of the country you are travelling to well in advance to find out which documents your non-EU family member will be asked to present at the border.

Read more about your non-EU family members' residence rights if they move with you to another EU country.

Do your non-EU family members need a visa?

Your non-EU family member can check if they need an entry visa from the country they are travelling to using the tool below:

Do you have a residence document from an EU country?

You don't have a residence card as an EU national family member - issued by an EU country -  or a residence document - issued by an EU country

In what EU country was your residence card issued?

In what EU country was your residence document issued

What EU country are you travelling to?

What EU country are you travelling to?

What EU country are you travelling to?

What EU country are you travelling to?

Your residence card was issued by a Schengen country and you are travelling to a country in the Schengen area

Your residence card issued by a Schengen country and you are travelling to a non-Schengen country

If you have a residence card as an EU national family member and you are not accompanying or joining your EU spouse / partner in the non-Schengen country, you must apply for a visa to enter that country.

Sample story

Holders of a residence card as an EU national family member don't need to obtain a visa if travelling with an EU national

Ying, the Chinese spouse of a German national living in Finland, has been issued with a residence card as an EU national family member in Finland. Ying and her husband wish to travel to Romania for an autumn break. As Ying is travelling with her husband, has a valid passport and a residence card as an EU family member, she is not required to obtain an entry visa to travel to Romania .

Your residence card was issued by a non-Schengen country and you are travelling to a Schengen country

If you have a residence card as an EU national family member and you are not accompanying or joining your EU spouse / partner in the Schengen country,  you must apply for a visa to enter that country.

Exception for Switerland

You will need a visa if you are travelling to Switzerland with a non-EU family member's residence card issued by a non-Schengen area country – this applies if you are travelling alone, together with your EU spouse / partner or if you are joining them in Switzerland.

Your residence card was issued by a non-Schengen country and you are travelling to a non-Schengen country

If you have a residence card as an EU national family member and you are not accompanying or joining your EU  spouse / partner in the non-Schengen country, you must apply for a visa to enter that country.

Your residence document was issued by a Schengen country in a standard format in line with EU rules and you are travelling to a Schengen country. Or your residence documents was issued in a non-standard format which has been notified to the EU and is published online in the Public Register of Authentic travel and identity Documents

Your residence document was issued by a Schengen country in a standard format in line with EU rules and you are travelling to a non-Schengen country. Or your residence documents was issued in a non-standard format which has been notified to the EU and is published online in the Public Register of Authentic travel and identity Documents

Sample story

Even if you have a national residence permit, an entry visa is needed to travel to a non-Schengen country

Joyce, a Nigerian national, lives in the Netherlands with her Dutch husband Luuk. As a family member of a Dutch national, Joyce has been issued with a Dutch residence permit in the Netherlands. Joyce wishes to join Luuk on his next business trip to Dublin. As Ireland is not part of the Schengen area, Joyce is required to obtain an entry visa to travel to Ireland with Luuk.

You have a residence document issued by a non-Schengen country and are travelling to a Schengen country

Your residence document was issued by a non-Schengen country and you are travelling to a non-Schengen country

Applying for an entry visa for short stays up to 90 days

If your non-EU family members need an entry visa, they should apply for one in advance from the consulate or embassy of the country they wish to travel to. If they will be travelling together with you, or joining you in another EU country, their application should be processed quickly and free of charge:

Your non-EU family member should clearly indicate on their visa application form that they are applying for an entry visa as a family member of a mobile EU citizen. If this is not clear they may be issued with the wrong type of visa for which they will be charged.

Visa application - supporting documents

Your non-EU family member must include the following documents with their visa application:

This list is exhaustive: your non-EU family members cannot be required to produce any other documents to support their application.

(Visas issued by a country belonging to the border-free Schengen area are valid for all countries in that area.)

If you live outside the EU and your non-EU family members accompany you or travel to the EU country of your nationality, EU cross-border rules do not necessarily apply and your non-EU family members might be charged visa fees.

Arriving at the border without an entry visa

It is always best for your non-EU family members to be well-informed in advance and to have all the necessary documents before starting their journey.

However, if they arrive at the border with their passport but without an entry visa, the border authorities should give them the opportunity to prove by other means that they are family members of a mobile EU citizen. They can do so by providing proof of their identity and family ties with an EU citizen (for example a marriage or birth certificate) and, proof that they are joining or accompanying the EU citizen (for example, proof that the EU citizen is already living in the country where entry is sought). If they manage to prove it, they should be issued with an entry visa on the spot.

If your family members are having difficulties getting a visa, you can contact our assistance services.

Entry refusal

In very rare cases, an EU country can refuse entry to you or your family members for reasons of "public policy, public security or public health".

If this happens, the authorities must prove that you or your family members pose a "genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat".

You are entitled to receive this decision in writing, stating all the grounds, and specifying how you can appeal and by when.

Read more about EU entry procedures

FAQs

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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