On 1 January 2014, the transitional controls on nationals of Bulgaria and Romania, which restricted their access to the UK labour market, came to an end.

From this date, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, together with their dependent family members (whether or not the family members are EEA nationals), have had the same access to the labour market as any other European Economic Area* (EEA) nationals, except for nationals of Croatia as they currently require worker authorisation. Therefore, Bulgarians and Romanians no longer have to apply for the right to work in the UK.

It is important to note, however, that EEA nationals, including Bulgarians and Romanians, can stay in the UK for more than three months only if they are exercising Treaty rights as a:

  • worker;
  • student;
  • self-employed person; or
  • self-sufficient person.

Those not working or seeking work must be able to support themselves and, if applicable, their families, and they must have comprehensive sickness insurance.

Work rights

Employers should remember that, when wishing to employ an EEA national, as with all employees, they should conduct a right to work check before the prospective employee commences work.

In regards to EEA nationals, an employer must require an EEA national to produce an official document showing his or her nationality, eg an original passport or an original national identity card. Additionally, some EEA nationals may also have been issued with:

  • a registration certificate, which confirms that they are lawfully residing in the UK; or
  • a document certifying permanent residence; and

if so, employers should also ask to see these.

Upon seeing these documents, an employer should check the validity of the document(s), take a copy of the document(s) in a format which cannot later be altered, and retain the document(s) securely. In particular, an employer should photocopy/scan:

  • the front cover and any pages providing the holder's: personal details; nationality; photograph; date of birth; signature; date of expiry; and biometric details; and

  • if applicable, any pages containing UK Government endorsements, which show the person is allowed to work in the UK and to carry out the work on offer.

For more information on right to work checks, please refer to the Home Office's guidance on the prevention of illegal working.

Study rights

EEA nationals can study in the UK at a government-registered institution without any restrictions, and they are not required to register or to apply for any documentations to confirm this; although, they may have done so and in turn have been issued with a registration certificate or a document certifying permanent residence.

Students who are EEA nationals should bear in mind that they will require comprehensive sickness insurance for the duration of their stay in the UK.

To check that an EEA national has the right to study in the UK, an educational institution should require the EEA national to produce an official document showing his or her nationality, eg an original passport or an original national identity card. The educational institution should then follow the same steps as listed above for employers.