I am moving to the UK from mainland Europe. The process is staged as follows :

  1. Arrive at the UK and live in temporary housing.

  2. Start work.

  3. Rent a permanent house a couple of weeks later.

  4. Get a local security number.

  5. Register with my embassy as residing abroad.

Will I be considered a permanent resident just after one of those steps, or 180 days later?

I am a Schengen national, if that matters.

  • 2
    Being a national of a Schengen country does not matter but being an EU/EEA citizen might. The Maastricht treaty created kind of “EU citizenship” but the Schengen regulations treat all EU citizens (i.e. also those from non-Schengen countries) identically.
    – Gala
    Apr 20, 2015 at 9:23
  • Registering with your embassy is unlikely to be relevant. There are many countries that do not require any registration of their foreign-resident citizens.
    – phoog
    Dec 8, 2015 at 22:05

3 Answers 3


In general, you would typically be considered a resident from day one, based on your intent to, in fact, reside in the country. Thresholds like this 180-day criterion are used to define who is a resident for certain purposes but it does not mean you are only considered a resident after that time. For example, if you move in on the first day of the year, you will be taxed as a resident for the whole year, and not only for the last six months.

Similarly, in the EU, non-EU nationals typically need a visa to stay more than three or six months but very often they need to have the proper kind of visa/permit when first entering the country and not only after a three or six-month period (although there are some exceptions as well).

In the case of the UK, the language on the gov.uk website clearly implies that your residency status (for tax purposes) is assessed based on the whole year (April to April). Note that the 183-day presence is not the only test, having your only home in the UK is also enough, even if you spend a lot of time abroad.

HMRC publishes extensive guidance on the criteria and in particular on how they treat “split years“ (the years in which you move in or out of the UK) but my understanding is that, unless you have a complex situation with interests in various countries, you are definitely treated as a resident when you take up employment.

As far as EU law is concerned, you become a permanent resident, with some additional rights, after working for five years in the country (or otherwise making use of your freedom of movement rights). The main difference is that if you lose your job in the first five years and are unable to find another one or become destitute, you could be asked to leave and go back to your country of origin. Once you became a permanent resident, you can choose to remain in the country and get welfare or disability benefits on a par with citizens. See Europa.eu for the basics on this distinction.

It's obviously not something you plan or wish for but it's a major legal difference and does give you more options if you would run, e.g., into serious health issues.

Importantly, permanent residence as an EU citizen is not something you need to apply for or be explicitly granted. Legally, you are automatically considered a permanent resident as soon as you fulfil the conditions. You can however apply for a permanent residence card that confirms and documents your status (or, before that, while you are still a non-permanent resident, for a regular residence card which is also optional).

  • Permanent resident status accrues after five years of residence whether as a worker or otherwise, no?
    – phoog
    Dec 8, 2015 at 22:08
  • @phoog Maybe, I am not sure anymore. I thought mere presence was not enough, i.e. that you had to have had a legal right of residence under the freedom of movement directive during those five years but the wording of the directive is not that restrictive.
    – Gala
    Dec 9, 2015 at 10:47
  • I agree that mere presence is not enough, but one could be present for five years under the right of free movement for the economically inactive, for example.
    – phoog
    Dec 9, 2015 at 16:36
  • @phoog Yes, definitely, I don't know if you find my answer unclear in this respect but I did not mean to suggest anything else.
    – Gala
    Dec 9, 2015 at 18:31
  • I was reacting specifically to "As far as EU law is concerned, you become a permanent resident, with some additional rights, after working for five years in the country." On re-reading it, I realize that this doesn't actually imply that working in the country is the only way to achieve this, butwhen I read it the first time, I was left with that impression.
    – phoog
    Dec 9, 2015 at 19:06

There is a difference between being resident, ordinary resident and permanent resident. From these the most strict one is permanent resident. As an EU/EEA citizien you get permanent resident (and can apply for proof) after 5 years of continuous living (meaning you can be absent from the UK for at most 540 days total, 180 days at a time) in the UK.

As an EU/EEA citizen however you might not need to obtain permanent residency, as it doesn't really add anything to your general rights. Also after 5 years of continu you can also apply for citizenship, which adds more rights (like the right to vote, UK passport, Commonwealth citizenship, etc.)

  • Permanent residence does exist in EU law and it certainly adds some rights, namely that of staying without work or financial resources and getting welfare benefits. It's not something that you need to apply for but something that is derive automatically from residing in the country for five years under the regular conditions. This “permanent residence“ is distinct from national notions of permanent residence, right of abode, indefinite leave to remain, etc. that apply to non-EU citizen.
    – Gala
    Apr 20, 2015 at 9:06
  • Just to clarify my earlier comment because I realise it might be a bit obscure: As EU citizen you cannot and need not apply for permanent residency, you either are a permanent resident or you are not. What you can apply for is a document certifying this.
    – Gala
    Apr 20, 2015 at 9:47

This is now clear that an EU citizen who has resided in another EU country continuosly for 5 years is entitled to permanent resident status ( calle Daueraufenthalt in Germany). l am not sure whether the Applicant must have worked throghout this period of 5 years.

  • 1
    You have to stay under EU freedom of movement rules. Working is one way but you can also invoke those rules if you are financially self-sufficient or if you are a member of the family of another EU citizen who is working. On the other hand, being tolerated for five years is not enough to become a permanent resident.
    – Gala
    Dec 9, 2015 at 10:09

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