As a European citizen or passport holder you will be entitled to take up residence in the European country of your choice. Along with this notable advantage, depending on the country you choose to reside in, you may also be granted access to a range of different benefits, including unlimited working and study rights. You may also be able to transfer your citizenship to you children, to have access to subsidized tertiary education and scholarships as well as access to social security, public health system and so much more!
Being a resident of the European country you chose, you can live and work in Europe for an unlimited amount of time, as long as you can prove that you are a self-employed entrepreneur, an employed individual, a student or a pensioner able to financially support yourself. As a lawful tax payer in the country of your residence, after 5 years, you may also apply for permanent residency.
For married couples (and sometimes also common-law spouses), your spouse is not entitled to a passport, but as long as you, as European citizens, can prove income (minimum), they will enjoy various benefits with the possibility of unlimited extension, a significant discount in health insurance costs and more.
Full information on all the rights and obligations of European citizens can also be found on the website of the European Union.
Check your eligibility
European citizens are allowed to move freely between EU countries when travelling. They may cross the internal borders without being subjected to compulsory border checks, no matter which EU country they belong to. However, the competent national authorities can carry out police checks also at the internal borders and in border areas.
As an EU citizen you can travel (and live) in another EU country for up to three months without any requirements other than holding a valid identity card or passport. In order to stay for more than three months, it is necessary to meet certain conditions depending on your status (worker, student, retiree, etc) and you may also be asked to comply with administrative formalities.
The admission requirements for any higher education institution in the EU will be exactly the same as the admission requirements for citizens of the host country. Tuition depends, of course, on the country and institution you choose, but in any of those cases you will not be required to pay more than the citizens of the country in which you choose to study.
You will also be eligible for the same scholarships to which local students are entitled to and, in addition, you will be able to apply for funds and scholarships intended for European citizens only.
For example, the EU Erasmus program allows European students to finish part (or all) their studies in a foreign country, and includes a living and travel scholarship. Another advantage lies in expanded employment options for EU students. While students from non-European countries receive a very limited work permit, you will be entitled to the same employment opportunities as the working students of the host country, without any special work permit.
European passport holders are allowed to move freely between EU countries for the purpose of job search. In some countries there is a requirement for initial registration, only to report your presence in the country but, beyond that, there is no time limit for your stay in the European Union. In the worst case scenario, after six months, the local authorities will require you to prove that you are actively looking for work and that you have enough resources to support yourself in the near future.
As an EU citizen you will be entitled to full access to the European labor market. Your rights in this area, as in many other areas, are completely identical to the citizens of the host country, both in access to the labor market and in the possibility of receiving help from the relevant authorities in finding the job that best suits your qualifications and experience.
Under certain conditions, you may also receive financial assistance for the purpose of professional training and development. During this period, the spouse of the job seeker, their children, parents and grandparents may stay with them in the European Union and enjoy the exact same rights. That is, under certain conditions, as long as the affiliation with you remains, they too will be entitled to an unlimited work permit, protection by Law and help in finding a job.
EU citizens are allowed to work as employees and/or self-employed individuals in all EU countries, without the need for a special work permit. After about five years of legal residence in the EU country of your choice, you can even apply for permanent residency.
European law adheres to the principle of “equal treatment”. According to this principle, residents and workers of any country in the Union will be entitled to the same treatment as local residents. This means equality in benefits and social rights, such as social security, public health insurance, etc, while working as an employee or as an entrepreneur.
The right to live, work and enjoy social benefits in any EU member state is granted not only to EU citizens themselves but also to their family members, even if they do not have European citizenship. Like the European passport holder, such members will be entitled to the principle of equal treatment, and they too will enjoy an automatic work permit and social rights. The only difference is that some family members will be required to go to the nearest Foreign Office and apply for a five-year residency permit, which can be renewed indefinitely, in accordance with the Law and for others the local authorities will decide on an individual basis.
Please do keep in mind that this is only a guiding principle, therefore we advise you to keep up to date with the legislation in the country of your choice, since each country is allowed to organize its own system as it sees fit, and you might find there are countries that may be more appealing than others in this regard.
Parents with Children
If you arrive in the destination country with your children and/or plan to have children there, you will be entitled to a maternity allowance and other family benefits from the chosen country. The conditions you will need to meet in order to receive this allowance vary depending on the country, the number of children and your financial situation.
Specially for future moms, during pregnancy, the public insurance to which you are entitled as EU citizens (or as spouses of a European citizen) will cover the associated medical expenses. Of course your children will also be eligible for a long-term residence permit and public health insurance, as they are to be born in an EU country.
Retirees with European citizenship are allowed to determine their place of residence in any EU member state, but there some conditions for this. Since most of the benefits and rights enjoyed by Union citizens are based on income from work and payment of taxes, the situation in terms of eligibility is slightly different when it comes to retirees.
The European Laws try to prevent a situation of “social tourism”, in which masses of citizens from country A would move to country B in order to receive higher unemployment benefits, or to undergo medical treatments in countries with better Health Services, and so on.
There are, thus, two main requirements for retirees to be able to choose their place of residence in EU :
- The retiree must hold full health insurance in the destination country.
- The retiree can prove adequate means of subsistence without the need for an income guarantee.
The eligibility for public health insurance is granted on a work basis, so keep in mind that this is the main obstacle for a retiree trying to live in an EU country.