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New Arrivals


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

This page is for nationals of Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013.

What special rules apply?

Special rules apply to your rights to work as an employee, which also affect your rights to housing and benefits. These rules apply until 30th June 2018 (likely to be extended to 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 applying for benefits or housing and you are required to have authorisation to work you will be asked to show one of the following documents (depending on the type of work you were authorised to do), to support your application:

  • If you are a highly skilled worker your registration certificate which is given on a blue card.
  • If you have a job offer for which a permit can be granted (a skilled work where there is a labour shortage, such as a doctor or a dentist; domestic employment, or some other specific work) your purple accession worker card.
  • If you are a student who is working up to 20 hours a week during your course, or full time during the vacation or for a short period after your course has ended: you get a yellow student registration card.

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

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

If your only right to reside is as a jobseeker you are not entitled to housing benefit unless:

  • you were receiving housing benefit on 31st March 2014 (the day before the law changed); and
  • you have continued to receive jobseekers’ allowance and housing benefit without any breaks ever since (note your housing benefit does not end if you move to a new home within the same local authority area).

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 Croatia 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.

What to do if you are not entitled because you are out of work

If you are not entitled to housing or benefits because you are a jobseeker or lost your job before completing your one year in authorised work you should consider the following:

  • if you have a family member who has an EEA right to reside, then you have a right to reside also as their family member (for example, if your partner is a Croatian who is still in authorised work, or an EEA national from another country who has a right to reside). If you are a family member your application for housing or benefits should not be refused; 
  • starting your own business, because you do not need authorisation to be self-employed;
  • if none of the above apply but you or a family member of yours is elderly, disabled or a child you may qualify for help from social services; or
  • if none of the above apply consider other help if you are destitute

Which Croatians are exempt from worker authorisation?

You are not required to seek authorisation to work and have the same rights to housing and help with your rent as an EEA worker if any one of the following apply:

  • you 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)
  • you have leave to enter or remain in the UK which is not subject to any condition restricting your employment
  • you 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
  • you have dual nationality as a British citizen or as a national of another EEA state (not Croatia)
  • you are the spouse, civil partner or partner of a UK national or person with settled status
  • you have a permanent right of residence
  • you 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
  • you 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
  • you are a family member of an EEA national (other than a Croatian)
  • you are a student who works for up to 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)
  • you 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