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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.

On 1 January 2021 the law about housing and benefit entitlements for EU nationals changed, see the first section below. Our Brexit news page has any late updates not yet added to this page.

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Who does this page apply to?

The law about the rights of EEA nationals to live, work and claim access to housing, benefits and other services changed on 1 January 2021 when the Brexit transition period ended. You have the rights described on this page only if:

  • you are a citizen of an EEA member state other than Ireland;
  • you are not the family member of a British citizen;
  • you entered the UK and resided in the UK lawfully before 23:00 on 31 December 2020;
  • you do not have EU settled status (whether an application has been made to the EU Settlement Scheme or not); and
  • you make (or have already made) an application to the EU Settlement Scheme before 1 July 2021.

If all of these apply, this page describes your rights to housing and benefits, up to and including 30 June 2021, and also from 1 July 2021 onwards but only if you made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme on or before 30 June 2021.

In other cases you can check your entitlement to housing and benefits on other pages, as follows:

Who is a European (EEA) worker or self-employed person?

The rights to housing and benefits described on this page below only apply to you if you resided lawfully in the UK before 1 January 2021 and were either working at that date, or started work between 1 January and 30 June 2021. Whether you are a worker/self-employed or a frontier worker depends on your record of work in the UK such as the number of hours you work, how much you earn and whether you are currently in work or not. For further details see: who is a worker/self-employed and frontier workers.

If you started work in the UK before 1 January 2021 but are not currently working you may be able to keep your worker/self-employed rights while you are sick or unemployed or when you retire.

If you arrived in the UK before 1 January 2021 and you were seeking work but had not found employment by then, you may be an EEA jobseeker and have fewer rights than a worker. 

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 or more information.

What documents might you be asked for?

To prove that you are an EEA worker it is enough that you show evidence of your nationality (passport or identity card) and your 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.

If you are self-employed you will need to show evidence of this which may include:

  • 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.

Additional documents you must provide from 1 July 2021

Until 30 June 2021 (the deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme) the only documents you need are those described above.

But from 1 July 2021 you must also provide evidence that you have either:

  • EU settled status or pre-settled status; or
  • that you made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme on or before the deadline.

If you did not make an application by the deadline, unless you can show good reason for your failure to apply, you will not have the right to live in the UK.

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

All EEA nationals

In addition to any rights you have due to your status as a worker, self-employed person or jobseeker you also have the following rights:

  • You can apply for accommodation from a private landlord or direct from a housing association regardless of whether you have worked in the UK. But in England you must provide your landlord with documents that show you have the 'right to rent'. Until the 30 June 2021 your passport or national identity card is enough. But from 1 July 2021 you must also provide evidence that you applied to the EU Settlement Scheme on time.
  • You can get free advice and information from your council (or from the organisation providing it on their behalf) to help you find accommodation if you are homeless or to help prevent you from becoming homeless if are at risk of it within the next 56 days. This advice must take account of any needs you have if you have been released from prison/detention or are a care leaver, a former member of the armed forces, a victim of domestic abuse, leaving hospital, suffering from a mental illness or impairment, or from being a member of any other group that the council has identified as being at particular risk of homelessness in their area.

EEA workers and self-employed persons

If you have resided lawfully in the UK at any time before 1 January 2021 and either were a worker or self-employed person before that date, or subsequently became a worker/self-employed person (see section above on who is a worker), you may have additional rights.

If you are an EEA worker or self-employed person you have the right to apply for an allocation of housing from the council, to get help if you are homeless and to claim universal credit or housing benefit to help pay your rent, for as long as you:

  • continue to work or engage in self-employed activity (including as a frontier worker);
  • are treated as a worker/self-employed person while temporarily out of work (e.g. off sick or looking for work); or
  • are treated as a retired worker.

For further details see the section above (who is a worker/self-employed).

While you meet these conditions, you can continue to use these rights:

  • until 30 June 2021 whether you have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme or not; or
  • from 1 July 2021 onwards, only if you made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme on or before 30 June 2021.

EEA jobseekers

You are an EEA jobseeker if you have entered the UK before 1 January 2021 looking for work but have not yet found employment. That means that:

  • you do not have the right to an allocation of housing from the council or to get help if you are homeless (but see rights available to all);
  • you are not entitled to universal credit unless you have some other right to reside (other than as a jobseeker) or you are the family member of a person who has such a right.

You are strongly advised to register with the Job Centre while you are seeking work – even if you only expect to be out of work for a short time. Periods of registered unemployment count towards your continuous residence and can help you qualify for EU settled status. If you fail to register it may affect an application for settled status or mean you must start your five-year qualifying period again. If you find work, or become self-employed before 1 July 2021, you will have rights as an EEA worker or self-employed person.

How the EU settlement scheme affects your rights

If you have already applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and have been granted ‘settled status’, you have the right to housing and benefits (including if you are looking for work). If you have been granted ‘pre-settled status’ you only have rights to housing and benefits in line with your EU rights to reside (e.g. as a worker, etc.).

If you arrived in the UK before 1 January 2021 and have not yet applied through the EU Settlement Scheme:

  • your rights to housing and benefits will depend on your ‘right to reside’ as a worker, self-employed person or jobseeker as explained above;
  • if you have been granted settled status (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) you will have a right to housing and benefits;
  • if you have been granted pre-settled status, you will have a right to housing and benefits for as long as you are continuing to work, or engage in self-employed activity;
  • between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021, you will have a right to housing and benefits if, before 1 January 2021, you were lawfully residing in the UK and either you were working or self-employed, or you have subsequently become a worker or self-employed;
  • if you have not applied to the Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 (unless you can show a good reason for a late application) you will no longer have the right to live in the UK, no right to an allocation of housing from the council or to get help if you are homeless, and no entitlement to universal credit.
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