I currently hold a resident permit for Belgium. When in France, I was told that a "carte de sejour" for EU citizen doesn't exist. The civil servant even asked me why I bothered "C'est l'europe". In the UK I didn't need a resident permit either. Is Belgium alone in requiring resident permits for EU citizens, or are there other countries as well?

  • EU nationals don't need a residence permit to stay in the Netherlands. They may need a BSN (Citizen Service Number) if staying for longer than 4 months. Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:15
  • @AndrewLott That is a surprise. When did that change?
    – Andra
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:20

3 Answers 3


Andrew Lott is completely correct that in principle a residence permit isn't required but even if you don't need one, some countries do require you to get a special registration card for EU citizens. The most important practical difference with a regular permit is that you can't be asked to leave or be expelled if you fail to get one but you can still face a heavy fine (“proportionate and non-discriminatory sanctions” in the language of the relevant EU directive).

The official EU website provides country-by-country information for most member states. Based on these pages, as of October 2014, it seems that:

  • the Czech Republic, France, and the UK do not mandate any form of registration as such (although it's difficult to live in a country without being liable for some taxes and then you do need to register with the tax office at some point)
  • Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden merely have generic registration requirements (you can typically get a resident card – not anymore in Germany though – at the same time but it does not seem mandatory) that apply in the same way to the locals and to other EU citizens.
  • Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Romania, Ireland (this one was very theoretical when I lived there), Hungary, Lithuania (see the comment by @SamiKuhmonen), Estonia, Finland, and Denmark have some form of mandatory residence card or registration system for EU citizens (and sometimes a mandatory population register too)
  • Bulgaria also has some registration requirement that I don't quite understand (but see the comment by @randunel for details) and Croatia provided information in Croatian only (although this form does suggest you do need to register somewhere).

Amusingly, the website has information on these 21 countries and mentions the fact that there is no information from 6 others (Austria – definitely some mandatory registration there, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) but it omits Belgium entirely.

In the case of France, the civil servant you talked to was probably wrong as official sources suggest that you should be able to get a “titre de séjour” if you want one. For example, on the website of the Ministry of the Interior:

Il n'est pas soumis à l'obligation de détenir de titre de séjour, ni une autorisation de travail mais, s'il le souhaite, un titre de séjour lui est délivré.

  • 1
    In Bulgaria, the residential requirements are: proof that you paid your health contributions in your original eu country (a valid european health card is enough), proof you can sustain yourself (2000 leva in a bg bank account), proof of address (letting contract). In Romania, all you need is your ID and any proof of what you are doing there, so any one of the following: work contract, studies contract, volunteering proof.
    – randunel
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 12:58
  • 1
    In Lithuania if you are going to stay for more than 3 months you need to apply for a temporary residence permit. It is very simple for EU citizens, of course. You will also have to register your place of living (as do the locals) and at the same time you will receive a local personal ID. The permit will be given at most for five years and if you stay for five years at one go, you can apply for a permanent residency permit. Students usually will get a permit only for the duration of the studies. Commented May 21, 2015 at 10:15
  • @randunel what if you never lived in another EU country?
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 6:57
  • @phoog if you are an EU citizen and have never lived in an EU country before, then you will have to pay health contributions for the last X years in your country of EU citizenship to get a national insurance card so you can become a resident of Bulgaria. For example, you need to pay your national health contributions for the last 5 years to get a national insurance card in Romania. Each country has its own rules, so you need to specify the country you want to become resident in as an EU citizen.
    – randunel
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 11:11
  • 1
    @randunel That's a bit odd because you just cannot simply “pay into the system” in many EU countries where health coverage is bound to residence and/or employment. And yet you are still covered by EU free movement rules (certainly if you want to work in Bulgaria, otherwise you might need private insurance or something).
    – Gala
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 11:39

EU countries no longer require residence permits of EU nationals. Per Directive 2004/38/EC as explained on the Europarl Fact Sheet:

Residence permits are abolished for Union citizens; however, Member States may require them to register with the competent authorities."

Member States may still require you register for a National ID Number of some sort, but this is not the same as requiring a permit for residence.

Romanian & Bulgarian nationals previously had different restrictions but as of 2014 this is no longer the case.


This is a very volatile thing in Europe at the moment. As commented though, you should only concern your self of this if you want to become a citizen of the country, OR if the country requires this for social and health welfare, ie Poland and most other Eastern EU countries, because that is the only system in place to track this.

6 years ago when they UK accepted Schengen immigrants without visas, because Schengen entitled you to that, you had to register on a worker scheme and apply for a residency card after 1 year of work. To get a job the employer, by law had to also confirm this with the Border Agency with an official letter and they got a nice certificate saying that you are allowed to work in UK.

The process varies from your country of origin, based on the if your country is in shengen or not.

But then, this actually had no impact on your social welfare, as you could claim health and welfare benefits based on your passport, form day 1, without contributing anything to the tax system or registering anywhere, which also extended to international tourists.

Some time in 2011/2012 they got rid of the registration and forced citizenship law, because it was a big waste of money and human resource. It proved no point what so ever, except statistical numbers for employed people.

To become a citizen in UK, you MUST have been fully employed, keep all your pay slips, contracts for the last 5 years otherwise, apply for resident permit BEFORE applying for citizenship, and this applies for every country, not just EU nationals.

But, as of Jan 1 2014, if you are from travelling from outside of shengen bit within EU (non-shengen) - There are new laws that stop people from abusing the welfare system, such as health tourists, welfare fraudsters and other such activities. New digital healthcare systems will flag the healthcare official you are at that a fee is payable for any non emergency health care, which is refundable after proving you worked for at least 3 months. Social benefits are also barred to 3 months but are still being disputed. But they still don't need residence because this is a new, separate system.

In Poland for example, you MUST have a national identification card which is free of cost. This card is your residency permit and gives you a number called PESEL - Personel Identification Number, against which you can claim social welfare or open bank current bank accounts. Without this card, you get nothing, not even a bit of pity if you are critically sick or homeless.

New systems are going into place in countries like this, that make use of the European Insurance card, which are free, but issued against your current resident countries details. This entitles you to basic health care only.

  • Resident permits are regulated by EU/EEA , not by schengen which regulate free movement.
    – Andra
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:10
  • Yes, but getting residency is based on the country of your origin and if it belongs to shengen or not. They might be separate regulating bodies, but the application process/documents are different if you are shengen, non shengen or non EU, and several others. I dealt with this first hand.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:16
  • 1
    Ah okay, but I have/had no intention in becoming British. I only was there to do some work. In which case my passport was sufficient
    – Andra
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:31
  • 3
    Sorry but this answer confuses many things and includes several inaccuracies (-1). @ppumkin When did you move to the UK? Was it before temporary restrictions for Poland (i.e. 7 years after EU membership in 2004, so 2011). I am positive that citizens from older EU members did not need all this even before the Schengen agreement came into force.
    – Gala
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 7:17
  • 5
    Yes, there are extensive rules that apply to all EU citizens but recent EU enlargments were accompanied by a 7-year transition period. As a citizen of a new EU member state, your situation would depend on where you were from, where you wanted to settle, which type of work you seeked, etc. so it was quite complex (currently only Croatia is concerned). Note that the rules in the general case (for “old” EU members) are not so volatile, they have been part of the treaties since the beginning and have been refined by a series of EUCJ decisions.
    – Gala
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 9:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.