For Artists from the EEA Living in the UK

Updated: Jul 06, 2017

(This page is downloadable as a PDF here)

Introduction: Where We Are Now

There have been no immediate changes to your rights since the Referendum in June 2016.  The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 remain in force in UK law until the conclusion of the current Brexit negotiations, scheduled for around two years time.  The European Economic Area, or EEA is made up of the 28 (to be 27) members of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.  Swiss nationals are not EEA nationals but there are agreements between the EEA and Switzerland which mean that Switzerland is a member of the single market and Swiss nationals currently enjoy freedom of movement rights in the UK like EEA nationals.  At present the current Regulations apply to anybody from these countries.

It is envisaged that there will be reciprocal arrangements for EEA nationals living in the United Kingdom and British citizens living in other EEA countries as a result of the negotiations following Brexit which have just begun (we hope to provide information relevant to those UK artists working in Europe as it becomes available). For those EEA citizens working here, the UK government’s opening position is that those with five years or more residency here will be given some degree of assurance, in the form of ‘settled status’.  There is a cut-off date envisaged, which is unlikely to be earlier than the 29 March 2017.  If you are living here now, and have been for the last five years, you will be able to apply for settled status and may (if you wish!) apply for British Citizenship.  If you arrived before whatever cut-off date is decided but do not have five years continuous residency then you will be able to stay with temporary rights until the five year threshold is reached.  Those that arrive after the cut-off date will need to apply for residency under whatever arrangements the negotiations produce.

It is not yet clear what transitional arrangement might be put in place as the negotiations proceed and it is yet to be seen what the full terms of any agreements will include.  So if you wish to continue living in the UK, it is advisable to seek advice now about what you might need to do to ensure that you can pass the necessary tests for permanent residence in the UK in the current situation.  See the links to the Europa and UK Home Office sites for initial information on this.

As the situation remains fluid, we anticipate we will need to update our members, both those from the EEA currently working in the UK and British artists working in Europe, on the likely consequences of any deal, and any actions that members can take to mitigate their situation, as quickly as we are able.
Your Europe is an EU site designed to help you do things in other European countries

As an EU national, you automatically acquire the right of permanent residence in another EU country if you have lived there legally for a continuous period of 5 years.  If you fulfil this requirement, you can apply for a permanent residence document, which confirms your right to live in the country where you now live permanently, without any conditions.

This is different from the registration certificate which is compulsory in many countries. The permanent residence document is not compulsory.


Applying for a permanent residence document
To get a document certifying your right of permanent residence, you must submit proof that you have been living legally in the country for 5 years.

You need to send different supporting documents with your application, depending on your situation (employed, self-employed, jobseeker, pensioner, student). This could include:

a valid registration certificate issued when you arrived in the host country

evidence that you've been living in the country, such as utility bills and rental contracts

evidence such as payslips, bank statements, tax returns that you've been working, studying, self-employed, self-sufficient or looking for work

The authorities must issue the permanent residence document as soon as possible and cannot charge you more than nationals pay for their identity cards (NB - this currently costs £84.20 in the UK). If they do not, you can call on our assistance services.

The document is automatically renewable without any condition or requirement. However, its validity may differ depending on the issuing country.’


UK Government Home Office Website
You can apply for a document to prove your right to live in the UK if you’re a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.

You’re usually eligible for a:
registration certificate if you’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years
permanent residence document if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years (or earlier in some situations - for example, if you retire)

You may also be eligible as the partner, child or family member of someone from the EEA or Switzerland.


Article 50 and UK residence
You don’t need to do anything as a result of Article 50 being triggered. There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU.

Under EU law, you don’t need a document to confirm your permanent residence status in the UK.

If you’re planning to apply for a document to confirm your status, you can sign up for email alerts instead.

These email updates will let you know about developments that might affect you, including the steps that you may need to take to confirm your status after the UK leaves the EU.’

Getting help: Law Centres
Law Centres have existed since the early 1970s and work within their communities to defend the legal rights of local people. Specialising in social welfare law, they have an in-depth knowledge of the issues communities face. They use this knowledge to help people save their homes, keep their jobs and protect their families.

Law Centres offer legal advice, casework and representation to individuals and groups.  Spotting local trends and issues in the course of their work, they highlight them to bring about necessary policy changes and to prevent future problems. Law Centres also help build capacity within local communities by training and supporting local groups and educating people about the law and their rights.

All Law Centres are independent and operate on a not-for-profit basis. They are also accountable to their communities, with local people acting on their management committees. Above all, they exist to improve the daily lives of the communities they work in.


Further Reading

Artists’ Union England is an active union and is constantly campaigning, producing resources and signposting opportunites for its members:




Membership Benefits

A membership to Artists’ Union England gets you professional support and access to resources. That means you’ll get:

  • Public and Products Liability (PPL) insurance
  • 30 minutes FREE legal advice
  • Access to resources about artists’ issues
  • FREE training and study opportunities
  • Tax guidance

Your membership means help will be there when you need it and we’ll constantly campaign for artist’s rights.

Ask a question  Join Now 

Artists’ Union England supports freelance artists based in England. in England.

Membership costs £42 annually – equivalent to £3.50 per month