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New Arrivals

European family members

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

Although the UK left the European Union on 31 January, all the housing and benefit entitlements of EU nationals who live in the UK will continue until at least 31 December 2020.

The information on this page on European nationals, and elsewhere on the website, still applies. Find out more on our Brexit news page.


Who is a family member?

This page is for family members of Europeans who are nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA). Where an EEA national has rights to reside in the UK, these rights usually extend to members of their family, even if the family members are not themselves EEA citizens. In addition former EEA family members may retain their family member rights even though the family relationship has ended.

Whether or not you qualify as a family member depends on the status of the person you are accompanying (e.g. worker, self-employed, student).

You are a ‘family member’ if the person you accompany is an EEA national with a right to reside, and you are:

  • their husband or wife (i.e. married, not just partners); or
  • their civil partner; or
  • a direct descendant (child, grandchild, etc) of that person or of their spouse or civil partner and either:
    • you are aged under 21; or
    • you are dependent on him/her or on their spouse or civil partner (for example, because of being disabled or studying); or
  • a dependent direct relative in ascending line of that person or of their spouse or civil partner (i.e. a parent/grandparent).

But if the EEA national you accompany is a student without any other right to reside then you only qualify as their family member if you are their husband/wife/civil partner or dependent child (i.e. under 18 or dependant in other ways).

You are:

  • an 'extended family member' if you have been issued with an EEA family permit; and you are:
    • a dependent relative of and reside with, or wish to join, the EEA worker, or his or her spouse or civil partner, not covered by the (family member) list above; or
    • a partner (not being a spouse or civil partner) in a 'durable relationship'; or
    • a relative of either the EEA national, his or her spouse or civil partner, and who, for serious health reasons, is provided with personal care by that EEA national, spouse or civil partner.

You are a dependant (for family member or extended family member status) if you:

  • are living in the same household and sharing living expenses, or
  • need the financial support of the relative on whom you are dependent, or
  • need the care of the relative on whom you are dependent (because of illness or disability), or
  • some combination of these.

What documents might you be asked for?

If you are a family member and an EEA national yourself you may not have any documents other than your passport or ID cards, and you will also need some proof of the family relationship (birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate) and of the dependence, where relevant. You can apply for a residence card or permit as a family member if you wish, and these should be issued within six months of application.

For family members who are not themselves EEA nationals a residence permit may be helpful to prove your status – but your right is not dependent on having one. To avoid difficulties proving your status you are advised to apply for a residence permit promptly. If you are refused a permit because of the time limit, or if you are entitled to one but have not applied, it does not affect your status as a family member and your right to housing in any way. Your housing authority must still determine your status by other means.

Residence cards and permits are issued. So you will usually need proof of your relationship, the right to reside of the family member, how you are dependant, etc. as well.

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

You are entitled to housing, homeless assistance and housing benefit without any further conditions (as is the person you accompany) if:

If you are the family member/extended family member of an EEA national with some other right to reside you will have the same rights as the person you are accompanying. If their right to reside is not through working you must also be habitually resident to qualify for housing or benefits.

If you are a family/member or extended family member 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 the same as the EEA national you are accompanying, you will still be asked to prove your nationality and (if you are not an EEA national) your right of residence (see above).

If you have applied for and been granted ‘Settled Status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme you have the right to housing and benefits even if you no longer have an EU right to reside. If you have been granted ‘Pre-Settled Status’ you only have rights to housing and benefits in line with your EU right to reside (i.e. as an EEA family member).

Family members with a permanent right to reside

If you are a family member (or a former family member in the circumstances set out below) you have a permanent right to reside if:

  • you have resided in the UK for a continuous period of five years as a family member and either:
    • you are not an EEA national yourself, or
    • at the end of the five year period you are/were a former family member with a retained right of residence;
  • the EEA national you accompany has acquired a permanent right to reside through retirement or permanent incapacity and:
    • you were their family member at the point they stopped working, and
    • immediately before he/she stopped working he/she was a worker or self-employed person and your right to reside was their family member;
  • you were the family member of a deceased worker or self-employed person and:
    • you were living with him/her immediately before they died, and
    • either the deceased had lived continuously in the UK for at least two years immediately before he/she died, or
    • he/she died because of an accident at work or an occupational disease.

See also:

Chartered Institute of Housing

Background Topics

Chartered Institute of Housing