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New Arrivals

Bulgarians, Romanians and Croatians

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

Who are they?

This page is for nationals of countries that joined the EU from 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania in 2007; Croatia in 2013).

Until the end of 2013, special rules applied to Bulgarians and Romanians. On 1st January 2014, these special rules stopped applying, and from that date any Bulgarians or Romanians working in the UK have the same rights as other EEA workers, and do not need to be authorised or exempted.

If you are a citizen of Croatia special rules apply to your rights to work as an employee, which also affect your rights to housing and benefits. These rules apply for the first seven years after the country joined the EU. For Croatians, the rules apply from 1st July 2013 (the accession date) to 30th June 2018 (likely to be extended until 2020).

In most cases you can only work as an employee if you have received authorisation to do so from the Home Office: but there are some exceptions - see below. Once you have been in employment for a continuous period of 12 months you will have the same rights as other EEA workers.

What documents might you be asked for?

Your passport or ID card from the relevant country is proof of nationality. If you are required to have authorisation to work you will be asked to show one of the following (depending on the type of work), if applying for benefits or housing:

  • Highly skilled workers have a registration certificate which is given on a blue card.
  • People with a job offer for which a permit can be granted (skilled work where there is a labour shortage, doctors and dentists, domestic employment, some other specific work) get a purple accession worker card.
  • Students from these countries may also work up to 20 hours a week, and full time for a short period after their course has ended: they get a yellow student registration card .

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

All Bulgarians, Romanians and Croatians

You can apply for accommodation direct from a housing association but you may be refused if you do not have enough money to pay the rent and cannot access housing benefit. You can also apply for accommodation from a private landlord.

If you are self-employed, a student or self-sufficient person

If you are self-employed, a student or self-sufficient your rights are the same as other EEA nationals with the same status.

If you are a jobseeker

If you are a Bulgarian or Romanian jobseeker, from 1st January 2014 you have the same rights as any other EEA jobseeker (someone who has entered the UK looking for work but not yet found employment).

If you are Croatian jobseeker who has not yet worked in the UK you are not eligible for housing, housing benefit or homelessness assistance.

From 1st April 2014, any EEA national whose right to reside is as a jobseeker will not be entitled to housing benefit. EEA nationals who are jobseekers and who were receiving housing benefit on 31st March 2014 will continue to receive housing benefit until their status as a jobseeker changes, or they move address and submit a new claim.

If you are a Croatian working as an employee

If you are working while authorised or exempt you are eligible for housing benefit to help pay your rent and you are eligible for housing or homelessness help in England and in Wales.

If your application for housing or homelessness was made to a local housing authority in Wales before 31st October 2014, you will be considered under the previous rules and would have to show that you were habitually resident.

If you were a Croatian authorised worker who is not now working

If you have not yet completed the 12 months as an authorised worker but are no longer working, you are not eligible for housing benefit to help pay your rent or for an allocation of housing or for homelessness help.  You become eligible if you can get new authorisation and start working again.

Workers from new accession states are often told that they are not entitled to housing, homelessness assistance or benefits in the first year when they are authorised to work. This is not true. Get advice if this happens to you.

Which Croatians are exempt from worker authorisation?

Certain workers from Croatia are allowed to work without restrictions (i.e. they are not required to seek authorisation to work). If you are exempt you will have the same rights to housing and help with your rent as other EEA workers.

You are not required to seek authorisation to work if you are one of the following:

  • have legally worked (i.e. had an appropriate form of leave or authorisation, including work as allowed as a student) in the UK for a continuous period of 12 months (whether that period started before, on or after 1st July 2013)
  • have leave to enter or remain in the UK which was not subject to any condition restricting employment
  • meet the criteria for a highly skilled worker set by the Home Office and you hold a registration certificate giving you unrestricted access to the UK labour market
  • have dual nationality as a British citizen or as a national of another EEA state (not Croatia)
  • are the spouse, civil partner or partner of a UK national or person with settled status
  • have a permanent right of residence
  • are the spouse, civil partner, partner or child under 18 of a person who has leave to enter the UK provided the terms of that leave allow the person you are accompanying to work
  • are the husband, wife, civil partner, partner or son/daughter (who is either under 21 or dependent on the parent) of a Croatian who has worker authorisation
  • are a family member of an EEA national (other than a Croatian)
  • are a student who works for less than 20 hours per week and who holds a registration certificate which allows you access to the UK labour market for up to 20 hours per week (or full time in the vacation or for four months after the course has ended)
  • have been posted to work in the UK by an organisation that is based in another EEA member state.
Chartered Institute of Housing

Background Topics

Chartered Institute of Housing