I am a third-country national (citizen of a non-EU country) but I have a residence card of the Netherlands. My wife has a British passport. For the last two years, we have been living in the Netherlands.

Can I travel on my residence card alone to the UK, without my spouse? Or do I need a visa in my passport? We are planning to move to the UK from Amsterdam. Can I work there in the UK, or will there be some barriers to my working there?

  • It really depends on your citizenship. If you are from a country who citizens do not require a visa, then you will be able to visit the UK without a visa on your own. If you want to work, you will need a visa no matter what your non-EU citizenship is.
    – ouflak
    Jul 29, 2015 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


There are two distinct aspects here:

  • Residence. You cannot generally use EU rules to settle in your spouse's country of origin. There is however an exception to this principle that might apply to you, which leaves you with three different ways to gain the right to live and work in the UK:

    • The regular “spouse“ visa route open to all British citizens' spouses. There are significant barriers to overcome and a rather steep application fee. The Dutch residence card makes no difference here.
    • The Surinder Singh route (that's the exception I mentioned), which would allow you to invoke EU rules. That's attractive because the conditions are generally more lenient and the process should be much cheaper (broadly similar to what you had to do in the Netherlands, if your wife sponsored you). If you qualify, you could apply for a residence card instead of a regular UK visa.

      To be able to use that, you have to prove that your wife used her “treaty rights” in the Netherlands. I don't know all the details but if she lived in the Netherlands, has a Dutch residence card or worked there for an extended period of time, you should be fine (see also the the guidance from the UK government).

    • Another UK visa, like the Tier 2 (General) visa. Basically this would mean applying on your own, as if you had no British spouse. It's the least attractive option as you would have to overcome all the hurdles other immigrants have to face (finding a sponsor, large fees, many restrictions), without benefiting from the rules that apply to members of the family of British or EU citizens.

  • Travel. If you don't need a visa based on your citizenship, you can obviously travel to the UK. Otherwise, you cannot generally use any Dutch residence permit to enter the UK. But if you have a residence card as “Family Member of a Union Citizen” (that's presumably the case but it must say so on the card), you can travel with your spouse or join her without visa (but not travel alone if she isn't in the UK).

    That right was confirmed by a recent court case and the UK issued some guidance about the conditions in which you can make use of it (see in particular point 3, “Evidence you need to bring in addition to your residence card”).

    In all other cases (namely if you are not joining your spouse or have another type of Dutch residence permit), you do need a visa. Safest and easiest is to travel with your spouse and show up together at the immigration check-point.

  • @Rameez here's the page directed at visa applicants who are considering the Surinder Singh route: gov.uk/family-permit/surinder-singh. Gala: The explicit question in the body of the post is "can I travel on my residence card alone to UK without spouse?"; I believe you have not addressed this, and the answer is "yes, you need a visa to travel to the UK without your spouse."
    – phoog
    Jul 28, 2015 at 15:53
  • 1
    @phoog I would argue the first bullet point did address it – cf. “(but not travel alone if she isn't in the UK)” – but I will add a sentence to make it more explicit. Incidentally, the reason I brought up all this is that answer is more complex, you can certainly travel without your spouse… if you are joining her. Thanks for the link too, I remembered the page but somehow overlooked the link and only found the caseworker guidance through google…
    – Gala
    Jul 28, 2015 at 16:57

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