No visa but still want to travel?

Are you a direct family member of an EU citizen and you need to travel within Europe with your EU family member, but do not have a required visa?

If you have a “Residence Card” for a family member of an EU/EEA citizen, then you in most cases do not need a visa.  If you do not have this Residence Card, you may need a visa (depending on which passport you hold).

If you can get the visa in time for your travel, then do that!  It should be issued easily.  Travel is a lot easier if you have the visa and don’t need to worry.  See: Requirements for a short stay visa as family member of an EU citizen.   Also be sure to see the warnings at the end of this posting!

But non-EU family members of EU citizens have a fundamental right (coming from the EU treaties) to travel together with their EU family members to any of the EU member states, even if they do not have the required visa.  This right has been clarified and upheld in 2002 by the highest European court, the ECJ, in the case C-459/99 (MRAX vs Kingdom of Belgium), and has been incorporated explicitly into Directive 2004/38/EC.

C-459/99 (MRAX vs Kingdom of Belgium)

The operative part of the ECJ decision C-459/99 (MRAX vs Kingdom of Belgium) (summary PDF of MRAX decision, full text of MRAX decision) reads:

1. On a proper construction of Article 3 of Council Directive 68/360/EEC of 15 October 1968 on the abolition of restrictions on movement and residence within the Community for workers of Member States and their families, Article 3 of Council Directive 73/148/EEC of 21 May 1973 on the abolition of restrictions on movement and residence within the Community for nationals of Member States with regard to establishment and the provision of services and Council Regulation (EC) No 2317/95 of 25 September 1995 determining the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders of the Member States, read in the light of the principle of proportionality, a Member State may not send back at the border a third country national who is married to a national of a Member State and attempts to enter its territory without being in possession of a valid identity card or passport or, if necessary, a visa, where he is able to prove his identity and the conjugal ties and there is no evidence to establish that he represents a risk to the requirements of public policy, public security or public health within the meaning of Article 10 of Directive 68/360 and Article 8 of Directive 73/148.

General Information

Travelling without a visa can be a pain, even after the MRAX ECJ ruling.  If somebody official says you need a visa, it is usually easiest to get one and travel with that.   If you travel without a required visa, there are a number of challenges you may need to overcome.

In the following, it is essential to be aware:

  1. These are suggestions that may ease your entry without a visa. They should not be taken as legal advice and come with no guarantee. If you want a guarantee, get a visa!
  2. European free movement rules apply when traveling to an EU country different than the citizenship of the EU family member.  e.g. If the EU family member has French citizenship, then the rules apply for entry into all EU countries other than France.   These rules only apply for travel back to the EU “home country” when the EU family member has recently been working in another EU member state.  e.g. The rules apply for the French worker living in the UK who wishes to enter France with their non-EU family members.
  3. You must be traveling together with (or joining) your EU/EEA family member
  4. You must have your passport and your partner must have their EU member state ID card or passport
  5. You must carry proof of the family relationship (e.g. an original marriage certificate, birth certificate, or adoption certificate, as well as an official translation if the original is in a non-European language)
  6. Border guards may, in some cases, not be aware of all aspects of your right to free movement and of their legal obligations.  You may need to politely provide them with references to the law or their procedures and rules (such as this blog entry) and should very politely request their managers and supervising officers if there is any difficulty.
  7. Employees of airlines and passport checking firms are less likely to be aware of your legal rights and may resist letting somebody without a visa on board because they fear fines from the government of your destination for letting somebody on board without the proper travel clearance.  Be polite and patient but firm with them.
  8. You should print out, organize and travel with each of the documents referenced in this article, as well as other supporting material.   Read it, understand it, and travel with it.  You can share the documents with border guards and their supervisors if there is any misunderstanding.
  9. You have a right to any refusal in writing, along with reasons for the refusal.  Make sure they clearly state that the EU citizen was present, and the marriage certificate was produced, but that entry was refused.
  10. Entering without a visa will likely take more time at the border than you are used to.  Take some food and water, and do not have anything else planned for a few hours after your arrival.
  11. Be calm, relaxed and happy in dealing with border guards.   Quite a few of them well understand the laws on free movement within the European Community, and will deal with you quickly and politely.

Directive 2004/38/EC has the following to say:

Directive 2004/38/EC
Chapter II — Right of exit and entry
Article 5 — Right of entry

4. Where a Union citizen, or a family member who is not a national of a Member State, does not have the necessary travel documents or, if required, the necessary visas, the Member State concerned shall, before turning them back, give such persons every reasonable opportunity to obtain the necessary documents or have them brought to them within a reasonable period of time or to corroborate or prove by other means that they are covered by the right of free movement and residence.

Each member state has had to transpose Directive 2004/38/EC into their own legislation and must include Article 5 in the transposition.


Article 5(4) [of Directive 2004/38/EC] works as a safeguard for persons entitled to free movement when they are unable to show the required documents when crossing a border. This provision is based on the judgment of the [ECJ] in case C-459/99 [ruling of 25 July 2002 in MRAX v Belgian State] according to which on a proper construction of Article 3 of Directives 68/360 and 73/148 and Regulation 2317/95, read in conjunction with the principle of proportionality, a Member State may not send back at the border a third country national who is married to a national of a Member State and attempts to enter its territory without being in possession of a valid identity card or passport or, if necessary, a visa, where he is able to prove his identity and the conjugal ties.

How does this work in practice in the UK?

The UK gives the following guidance to its border guards in Border Force Operations Manual –  EEA Nationals & their Dependents.  Note that the following quoted section is about family members of EEA citizens who do not have a required UK issued EEA family permit (the UKBA name for a visa for family members of an EU citizen), or a Residence Card, or even possibly have no passport:

5.5 Procedures when no EEA family permit or residence card is held

5.5.1 Admission of family members who are unable to produce a valid passport, family permit or residence card

Border Force officers will need to assess whether or not a person qualifies for admission under the EEA Regulations in the above situations. Ports should take particular note of the guidance on those who seek admission under the extended family member provisions as dependents relatives and as family members of an EEA national with whom they have a “durable relationship” (unmarried partner); the relevant criteria in Part 8 of the Rules (excluding entry clearance) should be used to make a decision on whether or not to admit under EEA Regulations. Unlike immediate family members the EEA Regulations allow for an “extensive examination of the personal circumstances” of extended family members.

5.5.2 Seeking admission at port

Applicants at port should be treated as persons seeking admission unless reference is made to applying for a residence card. Admission will fall into one of the following:

  • Produces satisfactory evidence on arrival — The person should be admitted for 6 months on a Code 1A [Ed: Code 1A has recently been replaced by a special ‘EEA Dependant’ ink stamp as described in a home office FOI response]. Complete landing card.
  • Is unable to produce satisfactory evidence on arrival — The person should be given “every reasonable opportunity” to prove by other means that he is the family member of an EEA national; a person should not automatically be refused admission as a result of not being able to produce adequate evidence. As a guide within a week of arriving at port should be adequate; ports can consider refusing admission at this point, unless the situation suggests more time is needed.
  • Submits an application for admission post arrival

In the response to a 2014 FOI request, Home office provided information about the ‘EEA Dependant’ ink stamp they issue in such circumstances:

If a non-EEA national arrives at the UK border seeking admission under the EEA Regulations as the family member of an EEA national, or of a British citizen under the Surinder Singh judgment, and does not have a valid EEA family permit (or other document specified in regulation 11(2)), the Border Force officer will give the passenger the opportunity to prove by other means that they qualify for entry (as required by Article 5(4) of the Directive and regulation 11(4) of the EEA Regulations).

If the officer is satisfied that the passenger is eligible for admission, the passenger’s valid  passport will be endorsed at the border using an ‘EEA Dependant’ ink stamp for a period of six months. This stamp has replaced the ‘code 1A’ stamp previously used for this  purpose.

A letter from Damien Green (Minister of Immigration in Britian) makes this clear:

Under Regulation 11, the family member of an EEA national must be admitted to the UK if he or she produces on arrival a valid passport and an EEA family permit, a UK issued residence card or permanent residence card, or if he or she is able to prove the family relationship by other means. [emphasis added]

It is therefore not compulsory for family members of EEA nationals to obtain an EEA family permit before travelling to the UK, and UK Border Agency officers will consider any evidence presented by passengers arriving at the UK border that they are entitled to be admitted as a family member of an EEA national in accordance with regulation 11 (4) [Ed: This is the paragraph which implements MRAX]. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that family members obtain an EEA Family Permit, which are issued free of charge, before travelling in order to facilitate their entry to the UK.

How does this work in practice in Schengen member states?

The European Commission gives Schengen member states (which now includes most member states) the following clear directions in the “Practical Handbook for Border Guards (Schengen Handbook) [EN]” (also available in other EU languages):

3.1 Persons enjoying the Community right of free movement

3.1.1 Persons enjoying the Community right of free movement are authorised to cross the border of a Member State on the basis of the following documents, as a general rule:

  • EU, EEA, CH citizens: identity card or passport;
  • members of the family of EU and EEA citizens who are nationals of a third country: passport. They may also be required to have an entry visa, if they are nationals of a third country subject to the visa obligation, unless they are in possession of a valid residence permit or card, issued by a Member State (or by EEA countries);
  • members of the family of CH citizen who are nationals of a third country: passport. They may also be required to have an entry visa, if they are nationals of a third country subject to the visa obligation.

3.1.2 However, if a person enjoying the Community right of free movement does not have the necessary travel documents or, if required, the necessary visas, the Member State concerned must, before turning him/her back, give such person every reasonable opportunity to obtain the necessary documents or have them brought to him/her within a reasonable period of time or corroborate or prove by other means that he/she is covered by the right of free movement.

3.1.3 As a consequence, checks on persons enjoying the Community right of free movement should be limited, as a general rule, to the verification of their identity and nationality/family ties (so-called “minimum check”, see above point 1.4). No questions concerning the purpose of travel, travel plans, employment certificate, pay slips, bank statements, accommodation, means of subsistence or other personal data should therefore be asked to them.


Legal basis – Case law:

  • Directive 38/2004/EC (Articles 4, 5 and 27)
  • Schengen Borders Code (Article 7)
  • Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons, 21 June 1999
  • Judgement of the ECJ of 25 July 2002, Case C-459/99, MRAX vs. Belgium
  • Judgement of the ECJ of 17 February 2005, Case C-215/03, Salah Oulane vs. Minister voor Vreemdelingenzaken en Integratie
  • Judgement of the ECJ of 31 January 2006, Case C-503/03, Commission vs. Spain.

Practical experience of people who have done this

  • Stefan-TR writes clearly about his wife entering the UK without the EEA Family Permit and the (positive!) result
  • Polish national and her husband flew to the UK and entered easily
  • West African wife of UK national enters UK with husband by ferry at Calais.  UK national had been living and working in Spain and entry was made on the basis of the ECJ Singh case
  • I have entered into Ireland at Dublin airport with my wife.  She did not have the required visa.  After some back and forth, and a wait of maybe 45 minutes (or at least it seemed that long), she was allowed entry.  Some of the guards clearly did not know the rules, but the one we were dealing with was very polite and eventually everything was sorted out.  We had a nice time exploring Dublin and then went home.
  • Scott, a visa requiring non-EU citizen, writes about entering Spain together with his EU partner without the required visa after the Spanish embassy took  too long to process their application
  • The non-EU spouse of a British woman, normally resident in Sweden, who entered the UK in Calais.   They had the unfortunate experience of a rude UKBA Immigration Officer, but it still only took 10 minutes!
  • The Albanian wife of a British citizen entered the UK from Calais by ferry without an EEA Family Permit: “[The Immigration officer] was happy that I had everything so organised and although it was unusual he did everything according to what the laws were that I had read and stamped my wife’s passport with the Code 1A. It did not take very long at all.”
  • Russian wife enters UK with EEA husband by ship: “Much less hassle to get an EEA family permit, but i take a certain pride to being called as “stubborn as a Norwegian
  • The Moldovian wife of a Romanian citizen did not have an easy time entering Ireland.  She was detained and held.  In the end the government was fined 7000 euro, but that is small compensation

Important warnings to keep in mind!

  1. These are suggestions that may ease your entry without a visa.  They should not be taken as legal advice and come with no guarantee.   If you want a kind-of guarantee, get a visa!
  2. If you need to fly to your destination, the airline may turn you away before you ever have a chance to talk with a border guard.  They are often instructed to refuse to carry people who do not have the right visa, and do not know about these European legal rules.
  3. ECJ case law applies to traditional EU/EEA member states.  They likely do NOT apply to entry into Switzerland (which is part of Schengen but not directly subject to ECJ case law), although the Schengen Practical Handbook for Border Guards does not make an exception for Switzerland
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • frey  On August 5, 2010 at 12:37

    Has anyone gained entry to the UK showing only the passports and marriage certificate or been refused entry?

    • David Waumsley  On October 11, 2010 at 22:43

      My wife was not allowed to board a Ryanair flight to Poland (with me her EU family member). The Polish Embassy in London confirmed personally by email what they say on their website:

      However, after showing both the website and the embassy email Ryanair still would not let my wife board. Presently they are refusing to refund the cost of the flight. Any ideas how to hold Ryanair accountable are greatly welcomed.

      • london3  On November 18, 2010 at 06:28

        I think its time to go to court. Directive 2004/38/EC is implemented in Law in all EU countries and is practiced by all the EU/EEA countries. I think refusing to accept it is discrimination and refusing to give her a legal right. This is not legal. The only one that can enforce Ryanair is the Courts.

        The Simple start is to prepare your court papers:
        and just send it to Ryanair informing them that you are sending this to the court 14 days from now. I am no expert but I think I will add a compensation of GBP 100K to the benefit of any organisation that informs on EU rights as they clearly are breaking the law. That will also get their attention.

        This is expensive but I think a good solicitor is useful in this case. Personally I will have made all the papers my selv, but its not so easy and takes time.
        I think you can also report Ryanair to a number of government consumer bodies. remember to send a copy of all your complains to Ryanair. Dont expect answer from Ryanair. They get alot of complains and dont normally answer them before they are forced by the court or by governments.

    • tomaski  On February 15, 2016 at 23:32

      my wife was refused

      I was travelling with my wife at 24 of December( yes chrismas day) from london via brussels to poland
      I’m polish citizen she is Filipino
      border control in Brussels refused her entry as a reason they told that resident card its false
      document was original( she travelled before without any problems, issued by home office, but by mistake attached to passport by us)
      whats more resident card is not required document if travelling to poland
      ( she was travelling with eea citizen, which is also a partner ( me) and as evidence of our relationship we were having wedding documents in polish and English version so visa should be issued at the border
      I would like to write complain on border control decision
      Could anyone recommend me any legal company which can take care of my case? any institution where i can submit my complain?

  • eumovement  On August 5, 2010 at 19:02

    We entered Ireland at Dublin airport without a visa. We showed them our passports and our marriage certificate. They did not “like it”, but they eventually let us in and we had a very pleasant day in Dublin. It took us about 45 minutes waiting, which was not so nice. But the man dealing with us was very pleasant and had a great accent (of course).

  • eumovement  On August 6, 2010 at 16:13

    Doing visa free entry relies on Directive 2004/38/EC being respected and the ECJ rulings, especially C-459/99 (MRAX vs Kingdom of Belgium), having force of law in the country. This is true for ALL EU countries. It may not be true for extra countries that are in EEA such as Norway or Switzerland. I am not sure if this would work in those countries.

  • london3  On September 4, 2010 at 08:50

    Norway have incorporated Directive 2004/38/EC in their Emigration law of 2008. Utlendingsloven § 110 i saying: ”Familiemedlemmer til en EØS-borger omfattes av bestemmelsene i dette kapittelet så lenge de følger eller gjenforenes med en EØS-borger” This basically says that a any familly member of EU/EEA citizen have right of free movement as long as they travel with or to join the EU/EEA citizen.

  • eupossible  On June 12, 2011 at 00:14

    Could someone please advise me as to how far the Metock case is enforceable? I am British, my husband is Jamaican. He has just been denied a visa in the UK and I would now like to exercise treaty rights by moving to mainland Europe. We tried to exercise treaty rights last year by applying for a Schengen Visa for him to enter Belgium, but it was denied on the grounds that he did not have a visa to be in the UK – a decision that was in breach of the case: Metock (Case C-127/2008).

    Since Europe is now our only option (as appeal or judicial review in the UK is so lengthy and we just want this to be over now!) we figure we will try and enforce the MRAX case on the border and use everything on this page to back up our rights. If we are dissatisfied with Europe once we’re there (as we’ve never been before and are interested to see what national opinion may be on mixed race relationships) then we will book flights to Jamaica and reapply for entry to the UK from there. I am self employed and earn my income online, which I can do from anywhere, and ideally I would like to do this from Europe with my husband by my side.

    To summarise: I would like to follow the procedures on this page and attempt to enter Europe without having established an entry visa for my husband beforehand – as is our right to do so. I would also like advice as to whether this is likely to be enforceable considering he is not legally present here in the UK, and can claim the Metock case in his favor. As an aside, we did get SOLVIT to pursue our case with the Belgian authorities but they stuck to their guns and said they’d only grant him a visa if he applied for it from Jamaica.

    • Anonymous  On October 14, 2011 at 18:30

      Hi Eu possible,
      I have read your post and I hope I am not too late with reply. I am a British national who is married to a South african national we currently live in Ireland as that was the only way that we could live together legally and it enabled me to excercise my free movements rights in europe. My husband has been granted a 5 year residence card for ireland republic.

      Metock rule can only be effective once you have left Britain for another Eu country e.g Republic of ireland which is the closest country for you.

      Once you arrive at the border, you will need to present your marriage certificate and both passports, and tell them that you are here to excericse your freedom of movements with your spouse, (studying. or working)

      It is not the best option for your husband to go back to Jamaica he will be stuck there with to much red tape and will take alot of time to get sorted.

      In regards to your travelling use a ferry from Holyhead to dublin port as you cannot fly, please make sure you have the above mentioned documents.

      I hope this helps you and your husband in suceeding in living together legally.

      After excersing your treaty rights working or self employed (not studying) in the republic of ireland or another eu country for 6 months,you will be able to return back to the UK with your spouse based on the surinder singh ruling.

      Hope this helps you and your spouse, good luck!

  • EcuadorianWifeofEuropeanWithExpiredUKResidency  On July 12, 2011 at 09:45


    The freedom of movement is great but it’s very hard to find out prior to buying tickets if the airlines will get us through… Please anyone post any experience you had with travelling without VISA/Residency within europe with or without your European husband/wife, please include name of the airlines…

    My experience : not impressed with Delta airlines willingness of giving information and did not book for USA travel
    Next we have to go to Spain – planning to talk to checkin employees at airport this week. My wife is Ecuadorian, expired Schenghen expired UK residency with COA for EEA4. She would need a schenghen visa for Spain but we can only apply if we go to Ecuador, she would need a UK family permit to get back in UK but we can only apply from abroad and it takes weeks so it is not possible either as she works.
    Basically we are thanksful for Freedom of movement act and MRAX against Belgium ruling because EEA4 and Schenghen visa just deny right of movement… Hopefully airlines checkin employees at least in Europe are well aware to let you board without Visa/residency.


  • Alhema Leyva  On July 26, 2011 at 13:41


    On March 8 my husband,daugther and I tried to travel from Lisbon (Portugal) to London without success, we bought the tickets online and the money (to make matters worse) was not returned, the airline, EasyJet. We prepared all the documents listed here (from marriage certificate translated and legalized in the embassy until birth certificate of my daughter who is Portuguese including a copy of the Border Force Operations Manual – EEA Nationals & their Dependents ) as a lawyer recomended us , but they did not read them, was a harrowing experience see my daughter crying, screaming dad!, but he could not stay with us because it was imperative for him traveling to London, today I am still in Portugal and the biggest problem is that here the embassy is not attending visa issues,so I should travel to Madrid to do it, but it is so complicated since I live alone with my daugher here. In a few days I will try again through the English Channel by train, anyone knows how the system works there?

    • EUmovement  On July 26, 2011 at 17:10

      Travelling without a visa, especially by air, can be very difficult. Airlines do not know the rules. I assume your husband is non-EU EU citizen who is working in the UK. Best to travel with him, by train or on the car ferry. But better still to get a visa from Madrid before you travel – it will make it a lot easier when travelling with a child also!

  • Anonymous  On June 20, 2012 at 06:28

    My dad was refused entry in the UK when he mentioned that he and I, a British citizen, would be going to Ireland to settle under the EEA family permit .we even have our tickets booked!. The UKBA keep telling me that he should apply for settlement from his home country but surely that is only relevant if he wanted to settle in the UK? Given that he was denied entry in the UK how can I ensure that we can both go to Ireland without him being denied entry there??

    • EU free movement  On June 20, 2012 at 23:46

      Your dad’s rights under EU law, if any, do not apply for entry into the UK (since you are British). His entry to Ireland depends on whether he is covered by EU free movement law. Only dependent parents are covered.

  • Anonymous  On July 31, 2012 at 05:56

    I guess my query is very similar to all of those above. I’m an Australian citizen and my husband is an Australian citizen but also holds an Estonian passport. From what i understand we are able to travel within Europe freely if we travel together and my husband travels on his Estonian passport? We want to stay in the Schengen for more than 90 days in 180 days – will this be possible?

    • EU free movement  On August 1, 2012 at 08:03

      If your eu spouse wants to remain for more than 3 months in one country you may both be required to register. But as long as you travel together, you have a right to be with him. Be sure to travel with your marriage certificate as proof that you are a family member. The overall limit in Schengen is not relevant.

  • Monica May  On August 29, 2012 at 13:25

    I am the Non-EU spouse of a British Citizen. Prior to returning to the UK, we were living and working in Ireland for 11 years and I have permanent residency in Ireland based on our marriage. On return to the UK, we applied for a my residency card under EU law but was refused, saying that since my husband is British, he does not qualify as an EU national. We requested a reconsideration under the Surinder Singh ruling. Our case has been under review for the past year and my passport is still with the UKBA. However, we need to travel to South Africa for our daughters’ wedding, but have been told that I will be refused entry on return to the UK, even if I manage to get my passport back. My residency in Ireland is still valid. What am I suppose to do????

  • Anonymous  On September 16, 2012 at 09:15

    Has anyone gained entry to the UK showing only the passports and marriage certificate or been refused entry?

  • Allison  On October 6, 2012 at 05:24

    My partner and I both have EU passports and live in Australia. Our 2 children, aged 7yrs and 9yrs have Australian passports.We will be travelling to France in December and are hoping to be there for approx 6mths. As I understand it a visa is not required for stays up to 3 months. Can we apply for a long term visa for our children when in France? Do they need visas if they are travelling with us? We do not have family residence permits etc.
    We were in the process of arranging UK passports for them but have hit a snag as we are not married and therefore cannot provide a marriage certificate. Apparently one needs to apply in person in Sydney to organise visas and they are fully booked for the next 3 months so we cannot go down that route.
    Not sure what needs/can be done now.

    • EU free movement  On October 8, 2012 at 07:31

      The children require no visa to enter France. You should carry their birth certificates with you to prove, if ever needed, their family relationship to the EU citizen.

      What we you be doing in France? You can stay for as long as you want if you are working or are self sufficient. So can your kids.

  • James Morgan  On October 10, 2012 at 00:09

    I have recently got married to an albanian lady. We have been living in greece together for nearly three years now.(I am British) Work at the moment is very off and on at the moment and is normaly paid cash in hand (records are not easy to provide). Can you please tell me how much evidence and exactly what evidence is sufficient to send to the embassy with my application for her for family permitt,as the apllication form looks quite dawnting. Please note we did try and apply for fiancee visa for her this year, she passed english exams and everything. however they refused us because my job offer was not on headed paper!!!!!! Any information would be grate.

    • EU free movement  On October 10, 2012 at 07:26

      Have you worked officially and in a documented way for more than three months in Greece? Even part time is fine. If so you qualify for eu law for your family move to UK.

      • James Morgan  On October 10, 2012 at 11:56

        I have a letter from my captain on the boat I work part time on. Is this enough. Thank you once again.

      • EU free movement  On October 11, 2012 at 07:39

        There are no fixed rules. Apply and see.

        Have you never worked a normal paid job in Greece? In the past?

  • eli  On October 25, 2012 at 19:28

    i am an albanian citizen married to my english citizen husband from 2 years ( been together for 8years) ,i have been granted turist visas for england in the past and also last year a EEA Family Permit visa during 6 months.This year i got the italian residency card as family member of EEA citizen( marriage permit stay).My husband i I both live and work here in italy and we also have italian residency ID cards.We would like to visit our family in england by travelling by car and we were wondering that by presenting our passport and the italian residency card and without a visa they would let us go through.
    Could you give us an advice please
    thank you

  • adiza  On November 11, 2012 at 19:34

    I am an eea national who lives and works in the UK. I am married to a ghananian who lives in ghana. my husband and I are visiting France on holiday. can my husband travel with me to the UK after our visit without applying for a family permit since I am travelling with him and then apply for residence permit in UK. we intend to travel by train ( my husband currently holds a schengen visit visa). if this is possible, what documents do we need to travel with.

  • babyonatour  On January 1, 2013 at 08:36

    Important update on UK Border Agency procedures in case of absence of EEA Family Permit in passports of VISA NATIONALS entering the UK with their EEA spouse.


    While NON-VISA nationals receive a 6 months code 1A stamp at the border, VISA NATIONALS receive a TWO MONTH, CODE 1 stamp at the border. Border Agency officials will refuse to place a SIX MONTH stamp in a VISA NATIONAL’S passport. The new guidance says that a TWO MONTH stamp is sufficient to allow entry of non-EEA, VISA NATIONAL in order to facilitate further application of this person for a residence card.

    I have entered with my wife 2 days ago via Heathrow. Procedure is simple and straightforward.


    UK Border agency now maintains a 24/7 telephone line for transport carriers to verify entry eligibility of those passengers who do not hold straight-forward visas and family permits. All airlines have the number that they must contact. UKBA will review documents faxed to them by the airline and direct airline to allow boarding in case the passenger meets EEA guidelines/UKBA procedures even if no visa is held. If your airline refuses to let you on board, insist that they contact UKBA Carrier Liaison team. This team is there for this specific reason.

    • Lara Costa  On February 5, 2013 at 21:30


      I am a Visa National residing in the UK with my EEA National husband. We have been here since September 2011 and have two children, both Visa Nationals. We are STILL waiting on the EEA2 Residence Cards and want to go to Portugal. The EEA Family Permit has expired. According to what you said I should be able to travel to Portugal and importantly, get back into England without an EEA Family Permit or Visa and just our marriage certificate and passports. We can also take along the COA and some bills from here. Just checking (you know, fresh pair of eyes on a situation 🙂 Sounds ok? Don’t want to be stuck in Portugal with my kids stuck in the UK.

      Thank you 🙂

      • EU free movement  On February 6, 2013 at 08:09

        Are you driving? Also how long have you been waiting for a Residence Card?

      • Lara Costa  On February 6, 2013 at 09:07

        No, we are hoping to fly. I think it is cheaper? We have been waiting just over 6 months, so legally, I believe, they are at fault.

      • Mendes  On February 7, 2013 at 01:37

        It is a very risk move to be honest, without a residence card you might get stuck. What nationality are you?

  • claire  On April 13, 2013 at 22:04

    i am British and have been living in Cyprus for 12 years. My husband (Bangladeshi) was refused a family tourist visa for the U.K and got a ban under 320(7b) . Under an eea family permit they can not refuse the visa for the previous ban so if i turned up at Calais with all the paper work is there a chance i would be able to get a 1A stamp if we have our 3 children with us?

    • EU free movement  On April 14, 2013 at 10:48

      Have you been working in Cyprus? If so your husband should not have been refused.

      • Mendes De Castro  On April 16, 2013 at 17:18

        It’s illegal and they shouldn’t have denied him entry clearance and you should have appealed if you haven’t done it yet.

  • Ben  On June 5, 2013 at 11:28

    I am a dutch national with a Philipina wife who has a 5 year staying permit for the Netherlands. I entered the UK by car through the Channel Tunnel without a visa.
    After some questions we had to show our proof of relationship (international mariage certifciate) and my wife had to fill in a short form. After that a single entry visa was issued. All in all it took us 15 minutes. We were told however that this was not the proper procedure and next time we should apply for a free EEA family visa

  • Zeshan  On August 25, 2013 at 17:30

    I’m a Belgian National married with a Pakistani girl since 4 years. We both are living in Pakistan as I’m on a contract for a international company here in the country. I have applied twice for a visa for my wife both for schengen and they have alaways refused to give as they don’t have enough evidence that my wife will go back in her origin country. I have a marriage certificate certified and legalised by the national authority and the Belgian Embassy. I’m tired to run after Embassy’s. Do you think that I can travel to Schengen area or UK with my marriage certificate without a visa? I know I have no guaranty but do I have any chances?

  • Calais  On October 14, 2013 at 07:34

    Hi All,

    I am a non – EU citizen living in Czech Republic. One month ago I wanted to visit my wife in London, who is a EU citizen. I applied for a tourist visa, but got rejected. Then I found this web – page and found very useful. Me and my wife decided to travel to the UK only with our passports and a marriage certificate. We bought flight tickets Strasbourg – London on Rynair. And, as many wrote here, we also experienced the same. I could not board. But it was not the air company, which did not allow me. Actually, they asked me to consult with the police in the Strasbourg airport about my case. The police was very nice and tried to help us. They contacted their British colleagues by phone, but the British police told them literally that I would not be able to get a stamp on the border, in fact they do not issue it anymore, therefore I should apply for a visa or a EEA Family Permit outside the UK. Me and my wife did not give up and went to Calais by train (Train cost us 100 Euro each) and tried to get on Ferry boat. There, the border police was very nice and within 10 mins gave me a six month stamp. Before doing that he consulted with somebody on the phone.

    Now, I have a question:

    While the French Police in Strasbourg tried to help us, they gave me a written confirmation that, I was present together with my wife with passports and a marriage certificate and according to the EU Directive I sought to board on the plane. Then they contacted the British Police (they also mention when and on which number they called), who did not allow me to travel to the UK without a visa, that the British Police even told them they do not issue such a stamp on the border. So, I have this paper from the police and they told us also if we decide to sue, they will be more than happy to support us.

    I also have answers by email from the UK embassy in the Czech Republic saying that I can not get the stamp at the border and I should apply for a visa beforehand.

    Now, since I got this stamp, I would like to sue them, first of all to enforce them to incorporate this EU directive in the UK consulates and second to get refunded for all extra expenses I made for this unnecessary travelings Strasbourg – Calais – Dover – London. (I have kept all tickets)

    What would you advise me to do now? How can I best start this process? I really want to do it, it does not matter how much time it will take.

    And, thank you for this link. Some comments really inspired me to do the same. Just one thing, I printed out all papers on EU regulations, but nobody even looked at it 🙂

  • issabella  On November 17, 2013 at 18:04

    Ryanair didn’t let me and my child board the plane, they were two employees I was explaining our situations to, a guy and a girl, the girl just went on saying no no no and wont listen,but the guy listened, read the documents I printed out from the ukba websites,later he tried to call some number but couldn’t get through.then he called the liason office at stansted which was suppose to be our destination.the boarder person told him not to let me nor my child board infact he asked and took our passport details.why he took our passport details I don’t know.
    what I don’t get in all of his is why do they write these laws all over their websites and yet don’t apply it. Sometimes I wish my child was a French or german citizen. the UKBA treats their own citizens like rags. I av applied for entry permit twice and gotten rejected I don’t know wat else to do,so much for the Zambrano amendments. my child holds a british passport and cant even travel to her supposed country or citizenship. its two years now I cannot get a job.unemployment in Italy worsens by the child lives badly. Her dad lives in London and don’t even care if she exist,he is so free from paying child support thanks to the UK Boarder Agency.

  • ian franklin  On August 1, 2014 at 11:12

    My wife is Thai. I am a UK citizen living in Tailand. I have a home in France. My wife and I wish to live in France for 6 months of the year and then back to Thailand for the winter. How does these rulings affect us?

    • EU free movement  On August 5, 2014 at 23:10

      If you are travelling together to France, then she should simply apply for a free Schengen visa (specifically indicating that she is the spouse of an EU citizen). This ruling does not matter.

  • ams  On August 28, 2014 at 21:18

    My husband is british I am non-eu and we live in Netherland. I have been granted eea family permit twice. I have applied for it but haven’t got it in time to travel to UK with husband. Can I take the risk of going through calais without passport? I have dutch residence permit and photocopies of all documents.

  • Kate  On December 4, 2014 at 09:17

    We want to travel to the UK by the means shown in this article.
    Is there any changes in regulations and Law’s that can prevent us from doing that?
    Is there any ground for a border officer to refine an admission for my wife if she is a Ukranian national, without any residence in EU, married to me Latvian national(EEA), who never been to the UK before?
    We married in Latvia in November 2014, living together before that in Ukraine for 2 years.
    Any advice is highly welcome!

    We found this page both interesting and informative, thank you very much for that information.

    • Anonymous  On December 4, 2014 at 13:42

      Hi Your wife will need to apply for the UK Family Permit which should be issued with no problem, given you are a EU national, as, if you are going to fly, the airline most likely won’t allow her on the flight without a visa.

  • John Duffell  On April 20, 2015 at 12:43

    We used this way, travelled to Amsterdam from London City Airport. I am british, always lived in the uk, my wife is non EU. The guys at the gate at LCY weren’t sure and had to call their manager who said it’s fine. When we arrived at AMS we had to go to the airport police at the border and they basically spent over an hour doing a full schengen visa. They didn’t charge for anything, but they did ask for irrelevant details like hotel and flights home, even though we already supplied my passport and our marriage cert. He said there’s only one visa to apply for and he has to fill on those details. Eventually he issued it and we were through!

    The main thing I’d observe is that noone knows about this visa at the embassy – they said we have to pay for a visa and apply in advance, and only a few people know at the airports, so it helps to have everything printed out and wave it at people to make it sound like you know what you’re talking about. I got the impression that about 1 person uses that system every month, so it’s not common at all.

  • kay  On April 28, 2015 at 20:05

    i am british living in the uk and married to a ghanaian living in ghana, if i want to travel with her to spain, do we just go to the spanish embassy in ghana with our passports and marriage cert.for a visa? Thanks

  • statelessBOC  On March 3, 2016 at 00:28

    Hi everyone,

    I am hoping someone here can enlighten me on this subject. I am a British Overseas Passport holder (british national without right of abode, with no other nationality and currently residing in UK without leave) and I am married to a british citizen. We would like to exercise his treaty rights by moving to Amsterdam. Can i just travel with my husband to Amsterdam armed with our marriage certificate, or do i need to have some kind of visa or residence permit beforehand to enter Holland? I have read somewhere in the dutch immigration website that my husband need to show proof that he can financially sustain us both for at least 12 months before I am issued a residence permit to stay in Holland? Is this requirement even legal? Anyone who can offer some advice, i would be so grateful. Thank you all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: