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Information for EEA students

Following the referendum on 23 June 2016, the UK has formally signalled its intent to withdraw from the European Union by the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It is important to note that there are no immediate changes to the status of EEA nationals living in the UK or those planning to come to the UK.

The process of leaving the EU is likely to take a minimum of two years from the date the UK gave notification of its intention to leave the EU (29 March 2017). The position of EEA nationals in the UK remains unchanged throughout this time.

Below, we aim to address some of the questions you might have, and provide information on how to secure documentation confirming your right to reside in the UK.

Has my immigration status changed?

At present, the UK remains in the EU. It will do so all the way until a formal date for leaving has been set as part of the negotiations.

This means there are no immediate changes if you are an EEA or Swiss national, including where you have a dual nationality with a non-EEA/Swiss passport.

What can I do now?

The Home Office has advised EEA nationals that at present they don’t need to take action to confirm their status in the UK. However, we recommend you take steps to secure evidence of your formal right to reside, if possible, using the process that is currently in place.  

You can also sign up for Home Office alerts so that you can keep up with any relevant developments.

Home Office alerts

Residence rights

As an EEA national, you have an initial, unrestricted right to reside in the UK for up to three months.

After that, you must be here as a “qualified person”. A qualified person can be a jobseeker, worker, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or a student.

In order to be considered a qualified person, a student needs to:

  • have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI)
  • have enough money to cover living expenses without recourse to public funds.

The precise meaning of 'public funds' is quite complex but basically means that there are restrictions on the kinds of state welfare benefits you would be able to claim whilst living in the UK as a student. If you are an EU student and are considering claiming benefits, our Money Adviser will be able to offer more information on your entitlement and on any associated residence implications.

Comprehensive Sickness Insurance

Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) is a type of medical insurance. The Home Office has confirmed that the following are acceptable forms of CSI:

  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
    • You should obtain this from your home country.
    • The Home Office has stated that the EHIC is only a valid form of insurance if you make a declaration that you do not intend to stay in the UK permanently. This does not stop you from changing your mind at a later date to stay permanently.
  • Forms S1, S2 or S3
    • These are documents that prove reciprocal arrangements between the UK and your home country.
  • Comprehensive private medical insurance policy
    • If you purchase private medical health insurance or already have it, you should ensure that it covers you for the majority of risks and medical treatment while you are in the UK.

As a student, you will still have access to the National Health Service in the UK, which is free at the point of access. However, under European Union law on which the “qualified person” criteria is based, access to a member state’s health system is not regarded the same as having comprehensive sickness insurance for the purposes of proving your treaty rights.

Registration certificate

If you are currently living in the UK as a qualified person, you have the option to apply for a registration certificate to confirm your right to reside in the UK.

This is not a change from the position before Article 50 was triggered. The possibility to apply for documentation has always existed as have the rules in place to obtain it.

Nor has it become a requirement - historically, most EEA nationals have not needed to apply for documentation as a qualified person as no real practical barriers such as access to work or medical care exist from not having it.

The point of applying for it now, in the post-Article 50 situation, would be to ensure you have documented your rights of residence.

Permanent residence

At present, EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least five years automatically have a permanent right to reside. This means that they have a right to live in the UK permanently, in accordance with EU law. There is no requirement to register for documentation to confirm this status.

However, some EU citizens are keen to apply for this now before any potential changes are made to the laws on free movement. At this stage, we do not know if any changes will be made.

Previously, there has been little demand from students in terms of advice relating to EU permanent residence and citizenship so there has been no specific provision for this. The rules regarding permanent residence and the rights of EU citizens in the UK are likely to change in the coming months.

Family members of EEA nationals

Non-EEA family members of EEA nationals can continue to come to the UK. Their right to reside, study or work has not yet been affected by the outcome of the EU referendum. Find out more about bringing your family as an EEA national

Information for dual nationals

If you are a citizen of a non-EEA country and also hold a valid passport for an EEA country (excluding the UK), you will be able to come to the UK under EU law using your passport or ID card, and you will not need to apply for a visa.

If there is a possibility that in future you want to secure your UK right of residence while you are in the UK, we recommend that you obtain comprehensive sickness insurance before you travel to UK. 

Usually students holding an EU passport will be asked to provide a European Health Insurance card (EHIC) ( when registering with a GP. However, in most cases, it will not be possible for those who reside outside EEA countries to obtain an EHIC card.

Students who are not able to obtain an EHIC card, and do not plan on securing UK residency rights in future, can still register with the GP.  Once matriculated students can obtain a Student Status Letter in order to register with the GP. Please contact the Advice & Support Centre (ASC) ( to obtain the Student Status letter.

Where else can I get information?

Ask a question



Advice and Support Centre
79 North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 (46)2020

Encountered any difficulties?

If you have encountered any difficulties and wish to speak informally to someone other than your Student Services adviser, please contact Ruth Unsworth ( or Lara Meischke (, Deputy Directors of Student Services, in the first instance.

Please also be aware that the University has Complaints Handling Procedure for formally addressing concerns.