Advice Line: 028 9024 4401

Settled status and how to apply

EU citizens living in the UK need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. This section contains answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this scheme.

What is settled status?

As a result of Brexit, EU citizens living in the UK need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they want to continue living in the UK after 31 December 2020.

Who needs to apply for settled status?

All EU citizens and their family members need to apply for settled status. EU citizens are citizens of: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. The requirements for citizens from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have yet to be finalised.

Irish citizens do not need to apply for settled status; however, any family members who are not British or Irish will have to apply.

Who counts as a family member?

Family members include spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents. It does not matter where the family member is from - s/he might be from Bulgaria (e.g. EU country) or from Brazil (e.g. non-EU country) – s/he is still considered a family member who needs to apply for settled status.

Why do I need to apply for settled status?

After Brexit, you will need settled status to show that you remain eligible to work, and to receive public services (e.g. education and NHS healthcare) and public funds (e.g. social security benefits). You will also need settled status if you want your family members to join you in the future.

Who qualifies for settled status?

If you have been a resident in the UK for more than 5 years you will be eligible for settled status. If you have been a resident for less than 5 years then you will receive pre-settled status; the application process is the same.

How do I apply?

You apply for settled status by completing a short online application form.

There are 4 steps in the application process:

  1. Verify your proof of identity and nationality. You can do this by scanning your EU passport or national identity card and uploading a photograph of yourself.
  2. Confirm proof of 5 years’ residence. Many people will be able to do this by providing a National Insurance number. If you do not have a National Insurance number, other documentation can be used as evidence of residency.
  3. Complete the criminality check by declaring criminal convictions.
  4. Provide payment details.

How do I apply if I find it difficult to use a computer?

Help will be available by telephone and in person. Details have yet to be confirmed.

When can I apply?

The online application process will be fully open by 30 March 2019.

Is there a deadline for applying for settled status?

Yes. EU citizens and their family members will have just over 2 years to apply for settled status (30 March 2019 – 30 June 2021).

It is very important that you apply in time so that you do not lose any of your existing rights and entitlements. Do not ignore settled status.

Is settled status the same as permanent residence?

Settled status is very similar to permanent residence although there are some important differences.

For example:

(1) to qualify for permanent residence, a person needs to have ‘exercised treaty rights’ for at least 5 years, whereas to qualify for settled status, a person needs only to have been resident for 5 years, which is a much less onerous requirement.

(2) permanent residence remains valid for only 2 years, whereas settled status remains valid unless you leave the UK for a period of more than 5 years.

The result is that it will be easier to obtain and retain settled status compared to permanent residence.

What type of document will I receive with settled status?

If your settled status application is successful, you will not receive a physical document; the process and outcome is entirely electronic.

However, family members who are from outside the EU, and who do not have a biometric residence card, will receive a physical document.

I am a European citizen but I also have British citizenship: do I need to apply for settled status?

No. If you hold British citizenship then settled status does not apply to you.

Should I apply for permanent residence now, or should I wait until the settled status scheme opens?

Most EU citizens and their family members will choose to wait and apply for settled status. Therefore there will be no need to apply for permanent residence.

The permanent residence application process is more complicated and expensive than the settlement status application process.

However, it does make sense for the following people to apply for permanent residence now:

  • EU nationals/family members who plan to apply for British citizenship
  • Married EU nationals/family members who are getting divorced

What can I do to prepare for my application?

the3million (a not-for-profit organisation formed after the Brexit referendum to protect EU citizens’ rights) is advising EU citizens in the UK to 'think ahead and be safe'.

It has published a checklist of documents which it considers will be useful to gather now and keep ready in case these are required to prove your entitlement to settled status.

This is particularly for those people whose records will not appear on the Government’s systems i.e. via tax or benefit records.

(Note that the reference to Council tax in the checklist is not relevant to Northern Ireland; instead, householders pay domestic rates to the Department of Finance via the Land and Property Services [LPS]. You can telephone the LPS to enquire about rates: 0300 200 7801 [charged at local rate]).

How can I keep up-to-date with any changes?

Sign up to receive GOV.UK email alerts on EU citizen rights and the settlement scheme.