I'm from a non-EU country and I have been in a Civil Partnership with my Spanish spouse for three years. We plan to move to UK together. Do I have to apply a EEA family permit prior to the UK Residence Card or will it be possible to enter UK on a tourist visa (during the 6 months validity period) while applying the UK Residence Card as a family member of the EU?

  • Where do you live now? In the EU?
    – ouflak
    Sep 9, 2016 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


No, you do not have to have an EEA family permit to apply for a residence card. You just need to show that you meet the requirements for a residence card. These are essentially that you are the family member of the EEA national and that the EEA national is either a permanent resident of the UK or a "qualified person." For more information, see

If you don't already have a tourist visa, though, you may want to get an EEA family permit instead. They're free of charge, unlike tourist visas. They also have less stringent criteria.

If you are a national of a visa-exempt country, you may want to apply for an EEA family permit anyway. This will reduce the chance that you'll be refused entry at the border. On the other hand, that chance is probably pretty small, so as long as you have your civil partnership certificate with you when you arrive in the UK, you should be fine.

Addendum: Since the UK has had a referendum to leave the EU, it seems the above links may break sooner rather than later. Here are some relevant excerpts:

2. Eligibility

You can apply for a residence card if you’re both:

  • from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • the family member, or extended family member, of an EEA national who is a permanent resident or ‘qualified person’

Whether you’re a family member or an extended family member affects the form you use when you apply.

You may also be eligible for a residence card if you have a ‘retained right of residence’ or apply as a ‘Surinder Singh’ case.

Qualified persons

A qualified person is someone who is in the UK and one of the following applies:

  • they’re working
  • they’re self-employed
  • they’re self-sufficient
  • they’re studying


3. Documents you must provide

For each person on the application you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport
  • 2 passport size colour photographs
  • one passport size colour photograph of your European Economic Area (EEA) national (or British citizen) sponsor
  • your EEA family member’s valid passport or national identity card
  • evidence of your relationship to your EEA family member - eg marriage certificate, civil partnership certificate, birth certificate, or proof that you’ve lived together for 2 years if you’re unmarried

You also need to provide proof of one of the following, depending on your eligibility:

  • that your EEA family member has a permanent right of residence
  • that your EEA family member is a ‘qualified person’
  • that you qualify because of a ‘retained right of residence’
  • that you qualify as a ‘Surinder Singh’ case

You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.


  • Hi Phoog, thank you very much for your help! Is it stated on the website that a EEA family permit is not mandatory for entering the UK prior to the application of the Residence card? We did not find any information on that anywhere.
    – Marina
    Sep 9, 2016 at 18:22
  • @Marina It is not stated. But it's not stated that it is mandatory. These documents are evidence of the right of free movement that you enjoy, but you aren't required to possess those documents to enjoy the right. They just make it easier for you to prove that you qualify.
    – phoog
    Sep 9, 2016 at 18:30
  • I see, does it mean that as long as we can prove at the border that we're in a civil partnership, it's possible that I can be given the EEA family permit on the spot by the clearance officer? When arriving to the UK, should I specify that I am entering the UK to accompany my spouse (whom will be traveling with me as well) and to start the application of the residence card? How do we make sure that I get clearance at the border aside from supporting documents such as a civil partnership certificate. Would it help to show that we are financially sufficient? Thank you again!
    – Marina
    Sep 9, 2016 at 18:47
  • @Marina I don't think they'll give you an EEA family permit; they'll just let you in with an appropriate stamp. But I don't know for sure. The problem is that if you are a visa national then you need a visa (EEAFP) to be able to board a plane. You do not need to show anything related to your finances; the EU freedom of movement directive explicitly excludes that. Your partner needs to become a "qualified person" within 90 days. Once your partner does that, you can apply for the residence permit.
    – phoog
    Sep 9, 2016 at 19:50
  • "How do we make sure that I get clearance at the border aside from supporting documents such as a civil partnership certificate." You can't. To get in, all you need to prove are your partner's EEA citizenship and your partnership. But you haven't answered whether you are a visa national and whether you already have a tourist visa, so it's a little difficult to advise you.
    – phoog
    Sep 9, 2016 at 19:52

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