EEA nationals





    Access to benefits and housing

    EEA nationals do not have the no recourse to public funds (NRPF) condition imposed on them. However, they may be prevented from claiming welfare benefits, homelessness assistance or getting a housing allocation from the council when they do not meet the eligibility criteria for these services.

    EEA countries

    EU countries



    Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK

    Non- EU countries

    Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

    Not EEA member but has same free movement rights

    Switzerland

    Eligibility for welfare benefits and housing for EEA nationals and their family members generally relates to the basis on which the EEA national is living in the UK, for example, as a worker or jobseeker. This is often referred to as having the 'right to reside' or being a 'qualified person' or 'exercising a treaty right'. 

    Establishing whether an EEA national has the right to reside in the UK can be complex, as is establishing benefit eligibility. Restrictions to benefits include:

  • Three month residence requirement for income-based jobseeker's allowance, child benefit & child tax credits
  • Minimum earnings threshold to determine whether a person is a 'worker' when claiming housing benefit, income-based jobseeker's allowance, child benefit, child tax credit
  • EEA 'jobseekers' are unable to claim housing benefit 
​​More information about these and other restrictions are outlined in our news bulletins 43​​ and 44.

UK and Irish nationals automatically have a right to reside for the purpose of claiming benefits, but will be subject to the three month residence requirement if they have been living outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Mann and Channel Islands prior to arriving in the UK. 

The rules about benefit and housing eligibility for EEA nationals and their family members are very complicated and advice from a benefits or housing adviser​ should be sought. 

Social services support

In some circumstances, EEA nationals and family members of EEA nationals, who are not eligible for welfare benefits social housing, may be able to receive housing and financial assistance from social services​. This is limited to:

  • Families where there is a child in need (if the family are destitute then the child will be in need) 
  • A young person who was formerly looked after by a local authority
  • An adult requiring care and support due to a disability, illness or mental health condition​
However, EEA nationals and dependants of EEA nationals may only be provided with support if this is necessary to prevent a breach of their human rights or their European Treaty rights. This means that social services will undertake a human rights assessment to establish if support can be provided. The assessment will consider many factors, including whether:

  • The EEA national has the right to reside in the UK and social services would be preventing the person from exercising this right if they do not provide support
  • There are any legal or practical barriers preventing the person from leaving the UK, for example, a medical condition which means they cannot travel
  • The provision of support is necessary to prevent a breach of the person or family's human rights
If the local authority identifies that there is a legal reason why the person or family cannot return to their country of origin, and the relevant eligibility criteria for the help that is requested are satisfied, then it is likely that support will be provided. 

If the local authority concludes that there are no legal reasons preventing a person or family from returning​ to their country of origin then it may provide assistance with travel to the EEA national's country of origin and support whilst this is being arranged.


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Arrangements for EEA  nationals after the UK leaves the European Union 

The rights that currently apply to EU nationals and their family members are due to continue until 31 December 2020 – their entitlements to services will not change during this time.​​
The UK is due to leave the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019. The Government has set out its proposals for the rights of EU nationals who are currently living in the UK in a Statement of Intent, which implements the draft Withdrawal Agreement that has been made with the EU. 

However, the Government and EU have yet to reach a final agreement on the full terms that will apply to the UK when it leaves, and it is unclear how a 'no deal' situation will impact on these proposals. Arrangements have not yet been confirmed for non-EU EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss nationals, but the Government has indicated it intends for them to be subject to the same process. 

The Government is currently proposing that after the UK has left the EU on 29 March 2019, there will be a transition period that ends on 31 December 2020. EU nationals and their​ family members living in the UK by the end of the transition period will need to take action before 30 June 2021 and apply for either settled or pre-settled (temporary) status under the EU Settlement Scheme if they wish to stay here. EU nationals and family members who arrive after 29 March 2019 and people who have already obtained a permanent residence document will also need to apply. The Government has indicated that a person who fails to apply by the end of June 2021 may have no lawful basis to remain in the UK, but it is unclear what the consequences of this will be. The EU Settlement Scheme is being piloted​ at the end of August and is due to be implemented by the end of the year. ​​

EU nationals can find out more here and can sign up to get information by email from the Government. 

For further information about the proposed EU Settled status and what this means for local authorities see our factsheet:


​Further information

For more information see our web page:
Families can use our web tool to find out what their support options are:


Information provided by other organisations:​

  • Home Office Modernised Guidance: E​EA nationals qualified persons 
  • ​AIRE Centre​ (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) - advice about the rights of EEA nationals under European law.
  • Routes H​ome - information about support services available in EU countries​ and support for rough sleepers in London​
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    ​Page updated 27 July 2018​​

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