For the purposes of this note any reference to nationals of European Economic Area member states includes Swiss nationals.
Freedom of movement of workers is one of the four basic freedoms of the European Union. All nationals of EU and European Economic Area member states have a right to enter the UK for an initial 3 months. They are permitted to remain in the UK as long as they are exercising a 'Treaty Right' (Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006, SI 2006/1003 reg 14). The following are examples of activities that are classed as exercising a Treaty Right (Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006, SI 2006/1003 reg 5):-
The main situation where a European Citizen would not be allowed to reside in the UK is where they are an unreasonable burden on public funds.
EEA citizens are generally free to enter the UK and are generally not required to apply for any official documentation in order to reside and work in the UK - there are limited exceptions (A8 and A2 nationals - see below professional versions only). If an individual chooses to do so, he or she may apply for a "Registration Certificate". The general rule is that an EEA national (plus family members) must be admitted to the United Kingdom if he produces, on arrival, a valid national identity card or passport issued by an EEA State (Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, SI 2006/1003 reg 12).
Rules under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 which can make it a criminal offence to employ a person who is subject to immigration control do not apply in relation to citizens of countries in the European Economic Area (see Immigration/illegal workers ). Legally, this is because such persons are not subject to immigration control - see Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 s.15 (and s.25).
There is a useful EU web-site covering Freedom of Movement for workers documents - EU site and another which specifically deals with Social Security Rights when moving within the European Union - EU site.
For notes on EU rules on freedom of establishment and on common recognition of professional qualifications throughout the EU see Freedom of movement of workers/freedom of establishment and/or European Law/Directives etc/doctors, architects etc . For notes on arrangements in respect of workers from countries joining the EC, see European Law/new EU members .
See also notes at European Law/Directives etc/posted workers and European Law/Directives etc/Services Directive . See generally Immigration/work permits/a general note and/or Social Security/European reciprocal arrangements and/or Minimum Wage/EEC foreign workers .
For practical advice on work permit and immigration matters, we recommend contacting the independent UK Work Permits Ltd consultancy of Hammersmith, West London (tel 0845 226 4030) whose help in preparing this note is gratefully acknowledged
Last Update: October 2012