EU nationals: homelessness rights if you have a permanent right to reside

The council has a duty to help you when homeless or threatened with homelessness if you are an EU or EEA national with a permanent right to reside in the UK.

How the council can help if you are homeless

Many EU and EEA nationals are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless or facing homelessness. 

Help from the council could be advice only, with emergency accommodation, or with finding longer-term housing.

If you ask the council to help you, they decide if you are eligible for assistance.

If the council won't help

Get advice if the council tell you that you are not eligible for assistance or if you need further information about your rights.

For housing advice, call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444 . Use Shelter's directory to find local advice.

You must act quickly to challenge the council's decision if the council tells you in writing that you are not eligible for assistance.

You have only 21 days to ask for a review. Call Civil Legal Advice to ask if you qualify for legal aid.

If you are not sure about your immigration status, you'll need a specialist immigration adviser.

Find out more from AdviceGuide about help with immigration problems.

Permanent right to reside

You are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you have a permanent right to reside. 

You may have a permanent right to reside in the UK if you are an EU or EEA national who has had at least five years residence in the UK.

You may also acquire permanent residence if you became permanently unable to work because an illness or disability meant you had to stop working.

You may acquire permanent residence if you retired after living and working in the UK for more than 3 years and were working in the UK for at least the 12 months before you retired.

Once you have a permanent right to reside you could lose it if you move abroad for two years or more.

After five years' residence

You are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you have a permanent right to reside. 

In most cases, you have a permanent right to reside if you have lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years. During this five-year period you may have been doing one or more of the following:

  • working or self-employed
  • supporting yourself as self-sufficient
  • studying  

You must have sickness insurance for any periods spend studying or when self-sufficient. Periods spent as a jobseeker can usually count towards obtaining permanent residence.

You can usually spend up to six months in any one year outside the UK without breaking the five-year qualifying period. You are also allowed one longer period of up to 12 months out of the country for an important reason such as pregnancy, childbirth, serious illness or study.

In some cases, you may not have a permanent right to reside even if you have lived here for five years or more.

Worker authorisation rules

Between 2004 and 2014 special rules applied to many EU nationals from Eastern Europe working for an employer in the UK. If you worked without being registered or authorised when you were supposed to be, this period does not count towards the five years' qualifying period for permanent residency.

Since 1st January 2014, the worker authorisation rules only apply to Croatian nationals.

Self-sufficiency rules

You will need to show that you were able to support yourself financially and that you had private health insurance in the UK if the five-year qualifying period includes time when you weren't working or job-seeking and you were supposed to be self-sufficient. This rule also applies if you were a student here.

Periods as the main carer of a child with a right to live in the UK

Time spent in the UK as the main carer of a child with an EU right to live here and complete their education may not count towards the five-year qualifying period.

Unable to work due to a permanent illness or disability

You have a permanent right to reside and are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you:

  • lived in the UK for at least two years before you stopped working because of a permanent illness or disability, or
  • had to stop working permanently following an accident at work or an occupational disease and you are entitled to disability benefits in the UK as a result

After retirement

You have a permanent right to reside and are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you lived in the UK for more than three years and worked in the UK for at least one year before you retired.

Family members of EU nationals

You have a permanent right to reside and are eligible for assistance from the council when homeless if you are the family member of an EU national with a permanent right to reside.

This may apply even if you no longer live with the EU national you are related to or if you are not an EU national yourself.

Following a bereavement

You are eligible for homelessness for assistance from the council when homeless if you have a permanent right to reside.

If you were living in the UK with an EU worker or self-employed person who died, you have a permanent right to reside if they had lived here for at least two years immediately before their death or their death was because of an accident at work or an occupational disease.

Permanent residence cards

You do not have to apply for a permanent right to reside. You have it automatically if you qualify. The council will want to see some proof of your length of residence and what you have been doing whilst living in the UK. 

You can apply for a permanent residence card from UK Visas and Immigration. This will provide a useful proof of your status. 

Find out more from Gov.uk about applying for a permanent resident card.

 

Last updated:

Last updated:

  • Print this page
  • Email this page