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New Arrivals

European workers and self-employed people

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser please click here for information more relevant to you.

Are you a European (EEA) worker or self-employed person?

If you are an EEA national (i.e. from one of the European Economic Area countries) you have the right to 'freedom of movement' which includes the right to live in the UK in order to:

  • work in self-employment
  • work as an employee in the UK (as a 'worker')
  • look for work (as a jobseeker).

Rights to UK social benefits are explained below. You can apply for lettings in the private rented sector but in England all those applying for tenancies are the subject of 'right to rent' checks. Even though your right to rent is automatic if you are an EEA national, you will still be asked to prove your nationality (see below).

Your rights if you a worker or former worker

Your right to access UK social benefits may depend on your record of work in the UK and may be different according to whether you are: currently in work, currently working but on very low hours or for very low pay, you have worked but have retired, you have worked but are currently unemployed or sick, or you have never worked here but have come to the UK to look for work. If you have worked in the UK and then lose your job or become unable to work for specific reasons, you may sometimes keep your worker status.

Detailed advice is given on the page on EEA workers, unemployed workers, retired workers and jobseekers. However, in the cases of employees and jobseekers different rules apply to people from Croatia.

Your rights if you are self-employed (including with temporary sickness)

You have a right to access UK social benefits if you are currently working as self-employed in the UK or you are self-employed but temporarily unable to work becasue of sickness.

What documents might you be asked for?

To prove that you are an EEA worker you simply need to show evidence of your nationality (passport or identity card) and evidence of employment such as a wage slip, letter from employer, P45, P60 or contract of employment. You can apply for a residence permit from the UK government if you wish. But it is not a requirement that you have one to apply for housing and benefits and you can give evidence of your worker status by providing other documents (e.g. passport and wage slips).

Self-employed people will need to show evidence that they are self-employed. This includes:

  • a letter from the HMRC (tax authority) saying that you have registered to pay tax and national insurance as self-employed
  • a copy of the application you have made to HMRC to pay tax and national insurance as self-employed
  • other documents that show that you are running a business such as receipts, invoices, promotional materials, etc.

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

All EEA nationals

You may have the right to apply for accommodation direct from a housing association regardless of whether you have worked here. However, you will not be entitled to help with your rent (housing benefit) unless you also qualify by one of the routes set out below. You can also apply for accommodation from a private landlord.

Everyone has the right to get free advice and information from their local council (or an organisation they have commissioned to provide it) to help them if they are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days.  This advice must, in particular, meet the needs of anyone who is or was released from prison or youth detention accommodation, a care leaver, a former member of the regular armed forces, a victim of domestic abuse, leaving hospital, suffering from a mental illness or impairment, and from any other group that the authority identify as being at particular risk of homelessness in their district.

If you have worked in the UK at any time (past or present)

You have the right to apply for an allocation of housing from the council, to get help if you are homeless and to claim housing benefit to help pay your rent, provided you are:

  • self-employed
  • treated as self-employed while temporarily unable to work
  • a worker
  • treated as a worker while temporarily out of work (e.g. off sick or looking for work)
  • a former worker who has retired from the labour market.

Detailed advice is given on the page on EEA workers, unemployed workers, retired workers and jobseekers. In the last three categories different rules apply if you are from Croatia and you have not yet legally worked in the UK for at least one year.

If you have entered the UK looking for work but have not yet found employment

  • you do not have the right to an allocation of housing from the council or to get help if you are homeless
  • you are not entitled to housing benefit or income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA(IB)) during your first three months residence and after three months you can claim JSA(IB) but you continue to be disqualified from housing benefit for as long as you receive income-based jobseeker's allowance unless you have some other right to reside (such as if you are an EEA family member).

If you do not fit any of the definitions of worker or self-employed here, you may still have rights to housing and benefits

See the page on other EEA nationals for more information.

See also:

Chartered Institute of Housing

Background Topics

Chartered Institute of Housing