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EEA nationals and family members

European Economic Area (EEA) countries

The EEA is made up of all the European Union (EU) member states, plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. When the term 'EEA national' is used on this website to refer to a person's immigration position in the UK, this will also include Swiss nationals, who have similar rights set out in bilateral treaties. 

The EU and EEA countries are:  

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark    
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland (not EU member)
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lichtenstein (not EU member)
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway (not EU member)
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Spain 
  • Slovakia
  • Sweden

Visa requirements 

EEA nationals are required to obtain leave to enter or remain in order to visit or live in the UK. Unless a person is coming to the UK for a short visit, they will need to apply for a visa in advance of their arrival. For example, if a person intends to work in the UK, they must apply for a visa under a specific category of the Immigration Rules and meet the corresponding requirements. See the Home Office guidance about visiting the UK as an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen

E-visas or a digital status will be issued to EEA nationals rather than physical status documents. A person can access their digital status via the 'view and prove' service on gov.uk.

An EEA national's immigration status will determine what entitlements they have to benefits, housing assistance, and other services

An EEA national or their family member could have one of the following types of immigration status:

  • Settled status (indefinite leave to remain) granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Pre-settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme (5 years' limited leave to remain)
  • A pending EU Settlement Scheme application
  • EU Settlement Scheme family permit
  • Leave to enter for a specific purpose, such as to visit, work, or study (granted on or after 1 January 2021)
  • No lawful status (the person may still be entitled to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme)

EU Settlement Scheme

The residence rights of the EEA nationals and their family members are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. 

The following people must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to evidence their residence rights: 

  • EEA nationals and their family members (EEA or non-EEA nationals) who were living in the UK by 11pm on 31 December 2020
  • Non-EEA nationals with derivative rights who were living in the UK by 11pm on 31 December 2020
  • Close family members and future children of EEA nationals with settled or pre-settled status (who may not yet be in the UK)

The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021 but the Home Office will accept a late application from a person who can demonstrate that they have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline. A late application can also be made by a joining family member who has an EU Settlement Scheme family permit and has not applied within three months of entering.

Visitors (entering on/after 1 January 2020) 

EEA nationals entering the UK without valid leave to remain or a prior entry clearance will be treated as standard visitors. They will not be issued with any physical or digital evidence of their immigration status, so a person who enters as a visitor will need to be aware of the date that their leave to enter expires. They will also need to be aware of the conditions that apply to them whilst they are in the UK. See the Home Office information: visit the UK as a standard visitor.

EEA nationals without lawful status 

There are several different circumstances that could apply to an EEA who has no lawful status in the UK. For example, the person could:

  • Be a visa overstayer, such as a person who entered as a visitor and remained in the UK beyond six months without making an application to the Home Office to extend their leave
  • Have been living in the UK by 11pm on 31 December 2020 but have not made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and been refused settled and pre-settled status (following an unsuccessful administrative review or appeal) 

When an EEA national does not have any documentation, further questions may need to be asked about their residence history to establish whether the person has:

  • An entitlement to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Valid visitor leave