Rights as an EU citizen

Any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen.

EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace national citizenship. It is for each EU country to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality of that country.

Citizenship of the Union is conferred directly on every EU citizen by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union entails the right:

  • To non-discrimination on the basis of nationality when the Treaty applies
  • To move and reside freely within the EU
  • To vote for and stand as a candidate in European Parliament and municipal elections
  • To be protected by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any other EU country
  • To petition the European Parliament and complain to the European Ombudsman
  • To contact and receive a response from any EU institution in one of the EU’s official languages
  • To access European Parliament, European Commission and Council documents under certain conditions
The right to move and reside freely

Citizens of the EU and their family members have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the EU, subject to certain conditions.

This right is conferred directly on every EU citizen by Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

As specified in directive 2004/38, the following rules apply:

  • Article 6: EU citizens can reside on the territory of another EU country for up to three months without any conditions other than the requirement to hold a valid identity card or passport;
  • Article 7: To reside in another EU country for more than three months, EU citizens are required to meet certain conditions depending on their status (i.e. worker, student, etc.) and may also be required to meet certain administrative formalities;
  • Article 16: EU citizens can acquire the right to permanent residence in another EU country after legally residing there for a continuous period of five years;
  • Article 3: The family members of EU citizens have the right to accompany or join them in another EU country, subject to certain conditions.



A guide to your rights as an EU citizen – Freedom to move and live in Europe