• You have the right to live in any EU country as an employee, self-employed, or a posted worker, but rules vary depending on whether you stay for up to 3 months, over 3 months, or permanently.
  • If you live abroad for less than 3 months, all you need to ensure is that you have a valid national identity card or passport.
  • After 3 months, you might have to register as a resident in the town you live to show you’re working there, and you can obtain a document confirming your right to stay.
  • If you lose your job while living abroad, you can still stay there if you are:
    • unable to work temporarily due to illness or accident;
    • registered with the relevant authority as being involuntarily unemployed;
    • following vocational training.
  • If you legally live as a worker in an EU country for a continuous period of 5 years, you automatically acquire the right to live there permanently.
  • You may qualify for permanent residence in less than 5 years in any of the following situations:
    • if you retire and have worked in the country for the last year, or lived there continuously for 3 years;
    • if you stop working because you are no longer able to work and have lived in the country continuously for 2 years;
    • if you stop working because you cannot work due to an accident at work or an occupational illness;
    • if you start working in another EU country as a cross-border worker. You must return to your place of residence at least once a week – but you must have worked in the country where you want to obtain permanent residence for 3 years continuously beforehand.
  • In exceptional cases, your host country can deport you on the grounds of public policy or public security, but only if it can prove you represent a serious threat.
  • Find out more: https://europa.eu/youreurope/workresident_en


  • If you want to work in another EU country, and your profession is regulated there, you may need to get your professional qualifications officially recognised before you start practising in your new country.
  • A profession is regulated if you have to hold a specific degree, sit specific exams, or register with a professional body before you can practise it.
  • If your profession is not regulated in your home country, but is regulated in the EU country you want to work in, you may have to prove that you have exercised your profession in your home country for at least 1 of the last 10 years.
  • Find out more: https://europa.eu/youreurope/pq_en


  • When working or living abroad, you will have social security cover in either your home country or the host country. You may not choose which country you will be covered by.
  • Which country you are covered by depends on:
    • your work situation;
    • your country of residence.
  • You should register with the social security system in your host country. You and your dependants will be covered by that country’s social security system. Your benefits related to sickness, family, unemployment, pensions, occupational accidents and diseases, early retirement and death will be determined by the local laws.
  • In many countries, the benefits you are entitled to depend on how long you previously paid contributions for.
  • Find out more: https://europa.eu/youreurope/social_en

Cross-border commuting

Françoise lives in France, but 4 days a week she commutes to Belgium to work in a communications company. As a crossborder worker, some of her social security rights vary. As she works in Belgium, Françoise has to pay her social security contributions in Belgium, which means she is covered there. But, she can still obtain medical treatment if she falls ill in her native France, and if she loses her job, she can also apply for benefits in France.


  • As EU nationals, your spouse, children and grandchildren may stay in another EU country as workers, jobseekers, pensioners or students under the same conditions that apply to you.
  • If they don’t plan to work, they can still join you as your dependants.
  • If you are working in another EU country for more than 3 months as an employee, self-employed, or on a posting, your spouse, dependent children and grandchildren can stay there with you without having to meet any other conditions.
  • As EU nationals, your family have the right to permanent residence if they have lived legally in a host country for 5 continuous years under the same conditions that apply to you.
  • Find out more: https://europa.eu/youreurope/children_en

Your Europe


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