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EU residence card

You may be able to apply for a residence card if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and you’re the family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national. 

Following changes to the Immigration Act 2014 as well as the EU Regulations 2006 (including amendments), you should seek legal advice, and please send details of your enquiry to or please complete our assessment form, by clicking here

Residence cards are issued to EEA nationals' family members who are not EEA nationals themselves. The card is, in fact, a sticker (also called a 'vignette'), placed in your passport, which confirms your right of residence in the UK under European law. It is normally valid for 5 years, and you should produce it as evidence of your status when asked to do so. (In some circumstances, Home Office may issue you with an immigration status document instead of a vignette in your passport). 

You don’t need to apply for a residence card as a family member but it can:

  1. help you re-enter the country more quickly and easily if you travel abroad; 

  2. show employers you’re allowed to work in the UK; 

  3. help prove you qualify for certain benefits and services; 

  4. You must apply for a residence card or have a valid EEA family permit if you’re an extended family member.

  5. You should instead apply for a derivative right of residence card if you’re the carer of an EEA citizen, the carer’s child, or the child of a former EEA worker and currently in education.

How long it lasts for
A residence card can last up to 5 years. After 5 years, you can apply for a permanent residence card and if you would like more information, please click here

It costs £65 for each person included in an application.

Biometric information
You’ll be asked to provide your biometric information as part of your application. You can do this at certain Post Office branches. It costs £19.20.

You’ll need to:

  • have a digital photo taken of your face;

  • put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned;

  • give your signature;

  • The process takes less than 5 minutes and doesn’t involve any ink or mess.

Children and medical conditions

  • Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or someone over 18 who has legal responsibility for the child. If the responsible adult isn’t the parent or guardian, they must be named on the application form.

  • Children under 6 years old don’t need to provide fingerprints but must have a digital photo taken of their face.

  • If you have a medical or physical condition. If you don’t have any fingers or hands you’ll only need to have a digital photo taken of your face. It will be noted on your records that you’re physically unable to provide fingerprints. 

  • If you or any dependants need any special arrangements to give your biometrics, include a letter from your doctor with your application. The letter must include the details of your condition and the special arrangements you need.

Eligibility for an EU residence card

You can apply for a residence card if you’re both:

  • from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)

  • the family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national who is a permanent resident or ‘qualified person’

You may also be eligible for a residence card if you have a ‘retained right of residence’ or apply as a ‘Surinder Singh’ case.

Qualified persons

A qualified person is someone who is in the UK and one of the following applies:

  • they’re working

  • they’re self-employed

  • they’re self-sufficient

  • they’re studying

  • they’re looking for work (only if they meet certain conditions)

Family members of EEA citizens

You can apply as a direct family member if you’re related to the EEA national as:

  • their spouse or civil partner

  • their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) child or grandchild who is under 21 or a dependant

  • their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) dependent parent or grandparent

If the EEA national is a student, you can only qualify as their family member if you’re:

  • their spouse or civil partner

  • their (or their spouse or civil partner’s) dependent child

Other relatives of students must qualify as extended family members.

Extended family members

You can apply as an extended family member if you’re either:

  • the unmarried partner of the EEA national and you’re in a lasting relationship with them that’s similar to a marriage or civil partnership

  • a relative of the EEA national (or of their spouse or civil partner) but you don’t qualify as their family member

Relatives include brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, nephews or nieces and cousins. Relatives can also include grandchildren, parents and grandparents if the EEA national only has the right to reside as a student.

As well as being a relative of the EEA national, one of the following must be true:

  • before coming to the UK you were dependent on the EEA national or were a member of the EEA national’s household, and you’re still dependent on them or are still a member of their household

  • you need the personal care of the EEA national (or of their spouse or civil partner) on serious health grounds

Extended family members must have a valid EEA permit or residence card to stay in the UK.

Your application is considered based on your individual circumstances and you may not be approved for a residence card even if you meet the conditions.

Other ways you may be eligible

Retained rights of residence

You can also apply if you used to have a family member, or extended family member, who was a permanent resident or qualified person. This is called a ‘retained right of residence’. You may get this if, for example:

  • your marriage or civil partnership to an EEA citizen has ended (with a divorce, annulment or dissolution)

  • your EEA family member has died and you lived in the UK as their family member for at least one year before their death

  • you’re in education and you’re the child of an EEA citizen (or their current or former spouse or civil partner) who has left the UK or died

  • your child has a retained right of residence because they’re in education in the UK (and you have custody of them)

You’ll need to prove:

  • that your family member, or extended family member, was a permanent resident or qualified person at the time your family relationship ended

  • how the relationship ended, eg death certificate or decree absolute if you divorced

You can only retain your right of residence as an extended family member if both the following apply:

  • you currently hold a valid residence card as the extended family member of an EEA national

  • you meet all of the relevant conditions

You can’t retain your right of residence if you were the unmarried partner of the EEA national and that relationship has broken down.

Surinder Singh cases

You may be able to apply for a residence card as a ‘Surinder Singh’ case.

To be eligible, you must be a citizen of a country outside the EEA and:

  • the family member of a British citizen

  • have lived with them in another EEA country where they worked or were self-employed before returning to the UK

  • be able to show that your UK sponsor based their ‘centre of life’ in the EEAcountry in which you both were a resident before returning to the UK

You can prove your UK sponsor genuinely moved to another EEA country with:

  • proof of their address, how long they lived there and any other related information, eg if they bought a house

  • proof of their integration in the EEA country where they lived, eg whether they speak the language, have any children born there or were involved with the local community

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