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CIH Scotland

New Arrivals


Other European nationals

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

Who are 'other European nationals'?

If you are a European Economic Area citizen (called here an 'EEA national') who is working or seeking work in the UK you have the right to 'freedom of movement'. If you are not currently working or seeking work you may also have the right to live here and access benefits if:

If you were working in the UK and are temporarily out of work or unable to work due to illness or accident you may still be treated as an EEA worker although the rules are different for people from Croatia.

What documents might you be asked for?

To prove that you are an EEA citizen you need a passport or identity card from your country of origin, but there is no specific document to show that you are studying or are self-sufficient, it is simply a matter of fact. You can apply for a residence permit if you have a right to reside in the UK, but you do not need it to prove your status.

After five years as a resident you will normally qualify for a permanent right of residence, and you can have your residence permit endorsed to show this. You do not need any permit to prove your permanent right to reside, though, it is a matter of fact.

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

All EEA nationals

You can apply for accommodation direct from a housing association or from a private landlord.

If you are a jobseeker, you will not be entitled to housing benefit if you claim on or after 1 April 2014. If you are a jobseeker and were receiving housing benefit on 31 March 2014 you will continue to receive it so long as you remain entitled to JSA(IB) or until you move address to a different local authority.

If you are a student

You can apply for housing, for homelessness help and for housing benefit, but you will only get help if:

  • you are habitually resident in the British Isles or Republic of Ireland (this condition applies only to those receiving housing benefit)
  • you fit the definition of an EEA student
  • your circumstances have changed since you started the course and signed the declaration that you could support yourself
  • you fit the general qualifications for the benefit or service: most students cannot claim housing benefit, for example, and you cannot get help as homeless if you have a home in another country.

To qualify as an EEA student, however, you must have comprehensive health insurance. This is either:

  • a European Health Insurance Card obtained in your home country plus a letter (called a statement of intent) confirming that you do not intend to stay in the UK permanently; or
  • private comprehensive sickness insurance

You must also have signed a declaration that you were able to support yourself. So if you later need to claim benefits or apply for help as homeless, you may need to show how it is that your circumstances have changed since then.  This is not necessary if you are just applying to go onto the council waiting list.

If you are a self-sufficient person

You can apply for an allocation of housing.

You can also apply for housing benefit and homelessness assistance but if you do you may be told that you are no longer self-sufficient and have lost your right to reside in the UK. However, this is not necessarily the case: you only lose your self-sufficient status if help you receive results in an ‘unreasonable burden’ on the UK state.

If you are claiming housing benefit you must be habitually resident, but if you are the guidance suggests that if you have lived in the UK for some time and have never claimed housing benefit before, the fact that you have previously been self-sufficient should be a factor in deciding whether you are an 'unreasonable burden,' as should the length of time you are likely to be claiming.

Similarly, with homelessness assistance: this should not be refused if the homelessness has occurred as a real emergency (a fire, for example, or domestic violence). The council may, however, limit its help to providing temporary accommodation and advice about finding your own housing.

If you are the parent of an EEA child in education

If you are the parent of an EEA child in education, and at least one parent of that child has been an EEA worker in the UK when the child was in the UK, you are eligible for a housing allocation and homelessness assistance. You are also eligible for housing benefit if you are habitually resident (which as the parent of a child settled in a UK school you probably will be).

If you have a permanent right of residence

You are eligible for a housing allocation and homelessness assistance. You are also eligible for housing benefit if you got your permanent right to reside as a result working (e.g. as a retired worker) or if you are habitually resident in the British Isles or Republic of Ireland.

See also:

Background Topics

Chartered Institute of Housing