Directive 2004/38/EC’s definition of “Family Member”

Directive 2004/38/EC defines a Family member (in point 2 of Article 2) to be one of the following:

“family member” Notes and interpretation
(a) the spouse; A partner in a legal same-sex marriage should also be considered a “spouse”.   See discussion on same-sex marriage.
(b) the partner with whom the Union citizen has contracted a registered partnership, on the basis of the legislation of a [EU/EEA] Member State, if the legislation of the host Member State treats registered partnerships as equivalent to marriage and in accordance with the conditions laid down in the relevant legislation of the host Member State; This applies when the member state treats registered partnership “as equivalent to marriage”. Where that is not true, the partner is not considered a “family member” in this definition, but still has a right of entry as a beneficiary (see beneficiary below). This only covers registered partnerships done by an EU member state. Registered partnerships done in Canada or the US would likely be handled as a beneficiary (see beneficiary below).
(c) the direct descendants who are under the age of 21 or are dependents and those of the spouse or partner as defined in point (b); Children (or grandchildren!) under 21 or those who are older than 21 but still dependent (e.g. students supported by their parents). The child can be of the EU citizen or of the non-EU citizen. This would include a child from a previous relationship or from before the EU-citizen obtained their citizenship.

(d) the dependent direct relatives in the ascending line and those of the spouse or partner as defined in point (b);

Dependent parents and dependent grandparents of either the EU citizen or of the non-EU spouse or partner. Dependent usually means financially dependent, though there may be other legally reasonable interpretations. For non-dependent parents, see beneficiary below.

These are the people who have the easy-evidence route through the Directive. They can usually prove their relationship with a simple document, like a birth certificate or a marriage certificate, that legally documents the family link. These “family members” (as the Directive states) “enjoy an automatic right of entry and residence in the host Member State” when they are with their EU citizen relative.

There are other people who are also direct beneficiaries of Directive 2004/38/EC. These are people who do not fall into this explicit definition of “family member“, but who are none the less “part of the family”. See the information about Other Beneficiaries of Directive 2004/38/EC

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  • Nancy  On September 15, 2014 at 15:38

    I’m an american parent of a EU citizen. I am a non-dependent parent. I should enjoy an automatic right of entry and residence in the host Member State when I am with my EU citizen relative but I do not receive this treatment in the UK. Apparently, UK does not have a clue about non-dependent parent. Even the lawyers in the UK have explained that ONLY dependent parents are eligible to get the EU family permit. If UK are restricting because they want to control the number of EU citizens coming over and getting government funds, then they are doing it all wrong! Non-dependent parents that are paying for their child (even if 18 years or above) who want to move in the UK with their child actually pay for the child and themselves. This eliminates the EU child from asking for UK gov funds.

    • EU free movement  On September 17, 2014 at 22:10

      This may make sense, but it is not what EU free movement law says.
      Are you also the spouse of an EU citizen?

  • Nancy  On September 18, 2014 at 08:41

    Yes I was married to my daughter’s father for 10 years. We are now divorced.

  • Elena  On February 11, 2015 at 11:03

    If both parents have Bulgarian Passport ( Bulgarian Citizenship – EU citizens) but the child is a non EU citizen as he was born in a non EU country, is it possible for this family to travel in UK for 2-3 weeks and take the child (under 14) with them or the child requires a visa for travelling?

    • EU free movement  On February 14, 2015 at 05:05

      Depending on citizenship the child may need a visa, which must be issued at no cost and on the basis of an accelerated process

  • Anonymous  On May 29, 2015 at 15:27

    My wife is Filipino, I’m french, our son is french and her UK residence card takes ages to be issued (we live in the UK). Her Shengen visa expires July 29 but we plan on travelling to Portugal then France for 3 weeks on July 25. TLS (French embassy visa services) refuses to take her visa application as it’s not yet expired. There is no Shengen visa extension.

    If she goes to Portugal and France with me without holding a valid Shengen visa nor UK residence, will she be able to enter?

  • Ben  On June 22, 2015 at 19:19

    I am English and married to a Thai national and have a Thai step daughter, although we have not been through the adoption process yet, i have been living with them and taking care of them for the last 3 years in Thailand. I have been offered a job in France and would like to take them both with me. Will this be a problem? I’m really looking for help to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible and so we can arrive to start work in October. I’m not sure where to look for help… England/France/Thailand? Embassy/immigration lawyer? Any help would be very appreciated.

    • EU free movement  On July 11, 2015 at 04:57

      They are direct family members. They need to only fill out the reduced form of the Schengen visa

  • Rose Marie  On February 2, 2016 at 16:00

    I’m a widow of a british citize. Are there any visa benefits if i will travel to european countries?

  • Rocky  On August 30, 2016 at 07:57

    Hi There

    I came to UK on a student Visa in 2010.

    I got married with an EEA National exercising treaty rights in UK/living and working full time/no absence etc and now she is a British National.

    We got married in Dec-2011.

    I applied for RC January 2012.

    RC issued April-2013.

    No refusal or appeal whatsoever , HO just took long to decide.

    Now my question is;

    5 Year clock towards PR starts from the date of marriage or from the date of issue of my RC ?

    Some solicitors are saying, I have to wait till the RC Expires i.e. 2018.

    But my 5 Years period is getting completed in December 2016 since we got married.

    The situation is quite confusing So I would appreciate if anyone can help me.

    By the way, we are still living together and will be forever🙂

    We both work full time, no benefits, no absence from UK etc.

    Please help.

    Kind Regards.


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