EU citizens' Brexit toolkit

Welcome to Tower Hamlets Council's toolkit for EU citizens living and working in our borough.

We recognise that since the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, you have had to deal with a great deal of uncertainty and concern. We want to reassure you that you are all valued members of our community in Tower Hamlets and we are here to help you secure your right to continue living and working here after Brexit. 

On this page, you will find details of the EU Settlement Scheme that has been set out by the Home Office. We will guide you through the scheme and provide you with further useful information about the process that we hope will address some of your concerns. We have also added important links to information about community cohesion and the Home Office guidance for businesses preparing for Brexit.

The EU Settlement Scheme


UPDATE: We are working with partners from across the borough to make it easier for you to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. If you need help verifying your ID documents as part of the process, we would encourage you to contact one of the following organisations:



Citizens Advice East End

020 3855 447

Residents can text the word EUSS to 07860041444.


EUSS Limehouse logo

The Limehouse Project

020 7538 0075

Community cohesion: Tackling hate crime after Brexit

Is your business ready?

If you trade any goods or services with the EU you’ll need to get ready for Brexit.

For example, you need to take action if you:

Find out how to prepare your business for Brexit

Further information

The Government has also released guidance on the following topics:

Visiting Europe

Buying things from Europe

Studying in the EU

Family law disputes in the EU

Detailed Brexit guidance on a range of specific topics is available on the website

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

If you are an EU citizen and want to stay in the UK beyond 31 December 2020, you and your family members will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

The EU Settlement Scheme allows you to continue to live, work and study here in the UK. It means you continue to be eligible for:

  • public services, such as healthcare and schools
  • public funds and pensions
  • British citizenship, if you want to apply and meet the requirements

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Am I eligible to apply?

To apply, you need to be an EU citizen or a non-EU family member of an EU citizen.

You need to be living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

If you have been living in the UK for more than five continuous years at the point when you apply then you will be eligible for settled status. If you have been a resident for less than five continuous years at that point, you will be eligible for pre-settled status. We'll explain what these terms mean later on but the good news is, they both mean you get to stay. 

What about my family members?

If you are an EU citizen living in the UK, you and your family members are protected under the EU Settlement Scheme. Family members do not need to be from the EU; they can come from anywhere in the world (referred to as non-EU citizen family members).

Close family members that are not living in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to join you in the UK at any point in the future. They will need to be able to show their relationship to you and it must still exist when they apply to come to the UK. Close family members include spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, dependant children and grandchildren, and dependant parents and grandparents. Visit GOV.UK to find out more.

Children born or adopted after 31 December 2020 will also have their rights protected.

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When can I apply?

The EU Settlement Scheme will fully open by 30 March 2019. You will then have until 30 June 2021 to apply and your rights will remain unchanged until then, provided that you are resident in the UK by 31 December 2020.

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How does the application process work?

You can access the application online using a computer, tablet or mobile phone. If you want, you can save your application and complete it later on. 

When you apply, you’ll need proof of:

  • your identity
  • your residence in the UK, unless you have a valid permanent residence document, or valid indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK
  • your relationship to a family member from the EU living in the UK, if you’re from outside the EU

Proof of identity

When you apply, you’ll be able to either:

You’ll also need to upload a recent digital photo of your face.

The app used to verify your identity is the EU Exit: ID Document Check app. To use this app you will need to have a valid biometric passport or biometric EU national identity card. Non-EU citizens must have a biometric residence card to use the app.

This functionality is only available on some Android devices - an easy way to check if your Android device can do this is whether your device has the technology to make contactless payments. If you can’t complete this step using the app, you can use a family member or friend’s device to verify your identity. There are no security risks in doing this and your data is not stored on the device. 

Proof of residence

There are a number of ways to provide evidence of your residence. Providing your National Insurance number (if you have one) should help you prove your residence in the UK. It will help to determine whether you are eligible for settled or pre-settled status.

There may be cases where residence cannot be proven automatically in this way and the Home Office may require additional evidence. If that happens, you will be told if you need to give any further evidence which you can submit online by uploading photos or scanning your documents into your application. Visit GOV.UK to see a list of suggested evidence that is accepted.

Criminality check

If you’re 18 or over you’ll be asked about your criminal history in the UK and overseas. You’ll also be checked against the UK’s crime databases.

If you’ve only been convicted of a minor crime, for example you’ve had a speeding fine, you’ll still be eligible for settled or pre-settled status.

You may still get settled or pre-settled status even if you have other convictions. This will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

If you’ve been to prison, you’ll usually need at least 5 years’ continuous residence from the day you were released to be considered for settled status.

If you're from outside the EU

You’ll need to provide proof of your relationship to your EU citizen family member (for example, a birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate). You’ll be able to scan and submit this through the online application form.

You’ll also need to provide evidence of your family member’s identity and residence.

If you have a valid permanent residence document you will not need to provide this proof of relationship or evidence of your family member’s identity and residence.

You’ll need to provide your fingerprints and a photo of your face at an application centre in the UK. You will not need to do this if you already have a biometric residence card.

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How much will it cost?

On 22 January, the Prime Minister announced a change in the Settlement Scheme policy which means that there will now be no charge for any application.

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After you’ve applied

If your application is successful, you’ll be given either settled or pre-settled status. Find out what your rights will be for each status.

You’ll be able to get proof of your status through an online service. You will not get a physical document unless both of the following apply:

If you make a mistake in your application

The Home Office will contact you before making a decision on your application, so you can correct the error.

They’ll also tell you if you need to provide more evidence before they can make a decision.

If your application is unsuccessful

You may be to apply for an administrative review of the decision.

You may be able to appeal the decision if you apply after 29 March 2019. This is still subject to approval by Parliament.

You can also reapply as many times as you want to before 30 June 2021. You’ll have to pay the fee each time you apply.

If you already have an outstanding immigration application

When you apply under the EU Settlement Scheme any other immigration application you have with the Home Office will not be considered.

You’ll get a refund for your outstanding application.

If you withdraw your application

You will not usually get a refund.

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Settled or pre-settled status explained

Successful applicants will get digital proof of their status through an online service. Your family members who are from outside the EU will receive a biometric residence card if they do not already have one.

If you receive settled status (also known as indefinite leave to remain) this means there is no time limit on how long you can stay in the UK. Subject to approval by Parliament, you should be able to spend up to five years in a row outside the UK without losing your settled status.

If you receive pre-settled status (also known as limited leave to remain) this means you can stay in the UK for a period of five years. This will allow you to remain in the UK until you are eligible for settled status, generally once you have lived continuously in the UK for five years. If you have been granted pre-settled status, it will be free when you apply for settled status after the UK leaves the EU.

How do you access your status?

Your status will be stored electronically by the Home Office. Once you receive your status, details will be provided on how to access it on GOV.UK.

You will be able to prove your rights to others online, including employers and landlords. Help will be available if you have difficulties using online services. If you are an EU citizen, you can continue to use your passport or EU national identity card as proof of your rights until 31 December 2020.

EU nationalities include: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain or Sweden.

The government is in discussions with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland about securing the status of their citizens who are resident in the UK.

Irish citizens will not need to apply for settled status to protect their rights in the UK, though they are able to do so if they wish. Non-Irish family members of Irish citizens will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they wish to remain in the UK after 31 December 2020.

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If you have permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain

The process of applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is different if you have a permanent residence document or indefinite leave to remain.

If you have a valid ‘UK permanent residence document’

If you have a valid UK permanent residence document, you’ll have one of the following:

  • a certificate inside your blue ‘residence documentation’ booklet (or pink if you’re a Swiss national)
  • a certificate inside your passport
  • a biometric residence card confirming permanent residence (only if you’re from outside the EU)

You can change your permanent residence document to settled status by applying to the EU Settlement Scheme. You will not have to pay or prove you have five years’ continuous residence.

If you have indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK

Indefinite leave to remain is a type of immigration status you’ll usually have applied for. You’ll usually have a stamp in your passport or a letter from the Home Office.

You can continue to live in the UK without applying to the EU Settlement Scheme if you have indefinite leave to remain or enter. However, you can choose to change it for settled status.

This means you should be able to spend up to five years in a row outside the UK without losing your settled status (instead of five years with indefinite leave to remain or enter).

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Settled status if you're under 21

You will be able to apply for settled or pre-settled status if you’re under 21 and either:

  • you’re an EU citizen
  • your parent, their spouse or their civil partner is an EU citizen

You can either:

  • get someone to apply for you, such as your parent, grandparent or guardian - they will need to apply separately for each child
  • apply on your own

If your parent is eligible for settled status

You’ll be eligible for settled status once your parent has settled status, even if:

  • you’ve lived in the UK for less than five years
  • you arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020

If your parent is not eligible for settled status

If you do not have five years’ continuous residence you’ll be eligible for pre-settled status.

If you do have five years’ continuous residence you’ll be eligible for settled status even if your parent is not eligible for settled status.

If your parent is an Irish citizen

Your parent will not need to apply for settled status if they’re an Irish citizen.

However, if you’re not a British or Irish citizen, you’ll either be eligible for:

  • the same status your parent could get, based on how long they’ve lived in the UK
  • settled status in your own right, if you’ve lived here for more than 5 years

You can sign up to receive email updates from the Home Office here

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Community cohesion: Tackling hate crime after Brexit

We know that after the referendum result in 2016, there was a rise in incidents of intolerance related to Brexit. We also understand that as the UK's planned departure date nears and the national debate on the issue becomes more heated, the fear of an increase in intolerance and discriminatory attacks is becoming greater.

The council works closely with the police and with other agencies to prevent all forms of hate crime, take action against offenders and support and protect victims. Hate crime related to Brexit, or that happens as a result of the divisions that have emerged in some sections of society as a result of the referendum, is no different.

We encourage anyone who is the victim of, or witness to, any hate crime to report it immediately. This is vital to ensure that offenders are brought to justice – we take a strong view that Tower Hamlets is 'no place for hate'. 

We have provided the following guide to let you know how hate crimes are defined and what the appropriate steps are to take, should you need to report an incident.

What is a hate crime?

Hate crime is any criminal offence where anyone believes the victim has been targeted because of their:

  • disability
  • race or ethnic identity
  • religion/belief
  • gender or gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • immigration status or nationality
  • or any other perceived aspect of their identity.

Hate crime can include:

  • physical attacks – from pushing and shoving to serious assaults
  • verbal abuse – using derogatory or insulting words 
  • threatening behaviour, bullying and intimidation 
  • damage to property – including offensive graffiti
  • harassment
  • malicious communications – threatening or offensive mail, texts or emails 
  • damage to property and violence
  • hate can also be directed at whole communities – for example, vandalism of places of worship, or offensive graffiti in public places.

Hate incidents are incidents that do not constitute a criminal offence but cause alarm, distress or harassment where anyone believes the victim has been targeted because of their race/ethnicity, religion/belief, gender/gender identity, disability, age, sexual orientation or any other actual or perceived difference.

Reporting hate crime

Anyone can report hate crime.

If there is an emergency, call the police on 999 – particularly if an incident is still happening or has just happened.

  • Report it to the police – call 999 if it is an emergency or 101 if it is not
  • Report to your landlord or housing provider
  • When reporting a hate crime, you may have the option to make your report anonymously
  • We encourage victims to provide personal details that can help with any investigation
  • Any evidence can help the council or police in the investigation process especially:
    • a description of the perpetrator(s)
    • details of any witnesses to the incident
    • a diary record of any ongoing incidents and previous incidents you have experienced
    • original copies of any hate mail that has been sent to you
    • evidence of damage to property, graffiti etc. It is advisable not to clear these up before reporting the incident if possible.

If you don’t have any evidence, we still encourage you to report hate crime.

Pledge your commitment to inclusivity and tolerance

Do you want to end hate in Tower Hamlets? Do you want to contribute to creating an environment where everyone can enjoy living, working and visiting our great borough free from fear, intimidation and attacks?

The 'No Place for Hate' campaign pledge was launched on 10 December 2008. It coincided with World Human Rights Day and the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

No place for hate

Everyone has a part to play. Organisations and individuals can sign the pledge against hate. Doing so will add collective weight and support to our commitment to eradicate hate in Tower Hamlets.

It is often those who are most vulnerable in our communities that suffer alone and in silence. Our goal is to build ‘One Tower Hamlets’ where there is a strong spirit of community and people from different backgrounds get on well together.

We must not allow any room for complacency. Sadly, there are still some who hurt, intimidate and threaten others because of hatred and prejudice. This is never acceptable.

We hope that agencies providing services to the local community, as well as individual residents of Tower Hamlets, will be prepared to support and sign the pledge to make a public condemnation of hate.

Join the pledge today. Make your public condemnation of hate - whether related to Brexit, homophobia, Islamophobia or otherwise - and find out how you can contribute to making No Place for Hate a reality.

 Useful contacts

  • Police: in an emergency call 999. For non-emergencies call 101
  • Victim Support: 020 8555 8254 or 020 7364 7957 (9.30am - 4.30pm, Monday to Friday)
  • Tower Hamlets Victim Support Serious & Violent Crime Service: 020 7364 7970/7797 (9.30am 4.30pm, Monday to Friday)
  • Victim Support National Support Line: 0808 168 9111 (24/7) or report it online.
  • Appeals process/complaint process: If the complainant is not happy with the service provided they can either complain via the council’s corporate complaints procedure, or complain via their landlord or housing provider.


Disclaimer: We aim to keep this web page up to date as policy evolves or more information about a specific point of implementation becomes available. It is correct as of 07 October 2019