You acquire PR status after exercising treaty rights as a qualified person, for a continuous 5 year period, regardless of residence documentation. The PR clock starts from when you became a qualified person, i.e. a worker or self-employed person, or a student or a self-sufficient person if you were covered by CSI. The qualifying period can start as soon as the moment you arrive, as long as you become a qualified person by no later than the initial right to reside period of 3 months. A qualified person can be:
  • a worker;
  • a self-employed person;
  • a jobseeker;
  • a student (with Comprehensive Sickness Insurance - CSI); and
  • a self-sufficient person (with CSI)
The 5 years do not have to spent in the same activity - it can be a combination of different activities: working, self-employed, student etc.

Who can apply for PR certification?
  • People who exercised treaty rights for 5 years or more and have the necessary evidence to prove it.
  • Family members can also obtain PR as a dependent – without themselves being qualified persons for 5 years.
Please see the overview: Permanent residence documents for EU, EEA or Swiss citizens - GOV.UK

Guidance: EEA-PR Guidance Notes

There are some exceptions to the 5 year rule, please see: https://www.gov.uk/uk-residence-eu-citizens/getting-permanent-residence-early

Periods of residence on the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man do not count towards PR, nor can you mix and match periods of residence in the UK with residence on these islands.

Choosing a qualifying period

You can select your preferred 5 years, it does not have to be the last 5 years.

It is recommended that you choose your strongest 5 years, strongest in terms of evidence that you can provide.

You should choose the 5 years based on the strength of your evidence rather than the kind of activity you were involved in at the time, as long as that activity qualifies you as exercising treaty rights.

If your earnings were too low or your work too intermittent, you may want to choose other years.

However, the most straightforward route in practical terms tends to be employment as P60s can easily be provided which cover all activity from April to April and no further evidence is required at the time of applying for PR.

Please note: 5 years = 60 months (i.e. it does not have to be Jan-Dec or fiscal year).

The 5 year period must be continuous.

Gaps of less than 6 months when you were not exercising treaty rights, in or out of the UK, do not affect PR status.

It is recommended that you write what your 5 year period is in your cover letter.

If you have children born in the UK

If you have children born in the UK, the date when you are deemed to have acquired PR can affect your children’s right to British citizenship.

If you have lived in the UK for much longer than 5 years and have children born here, you may want to choose a qualifying period that gives you PR before the birth of your child.

Children born in the UK after April 30 2006 can claim automatic British citizenship if at least one EU parent had permanent resident status at the time of the child’s birth.
See How children acquire citizenship

If you lived in the UK longer than 5 years

The Home Office guidance states:

You do not need to provide evidence for all your time spent in the UK. You can rely on, and provide evidence, for any continuous (5 year) period of qualifying residence. For example, if you were exercising Treaty rights in the UK continuously from 2005 to 2010, and you want to show that you acquired permanent residence in 2010, you should provide evidence for that period. If you’re not sure exactly when you acquired permanent residence, you may wish to send evidence of a sixth year as well.


Residence before April 30 2006

The Home Office guidance states:

If you are an EEA national resident in the UK prior to 2006:

The Free Movement Directive was implemented in the UK, for the first time, through the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which came into force on 30 April 2006. Therefore, that is the earliest point that a right to permanent residence can be established. However, permanent residence status for an EEA national could have been achieved based on an earlier period of qualifying residence. For example, a person arriving in the UK in January 2000 and working here ever since would have a 5 year qualifying period between 2000 and 2005. However, they would only have acquired permanent residence from 30 April 2006.


If you came to the UK as a non EEA national

If you came here initially on a non EEA passport and became an EEA national later on, you can only use any time after acquiring your EEA passport towards your 5 years. The Home Office will expect you to provide evidence of having EEA citizenship for your qualifying 5 years.

Any years spent working or studying as a non-EEA national on a visa do not count as exercising treaty rights. The clock would start to run from the time you obtained EEA citizenship, provided you were exercising treaty rights as a worker, self-employed, student or self-sufficient person.

Periods spent as the family member of an EEA national do count towards PR.

Date you are deemed to have acquired PR status

The date you acquired PR status will always be earlier than the issue date of the card and would depend on your chosen qualifying period and the evidence supplied with the application.

From the end of November 2016, the Home Office has been including the date you were deemed to have acquired PR status in the covering letter that came with your PR card.

If you applied earlier or haven’t got the letter, see: Finding the date when you acquired PR status.

See also:

Date when PR status was acquired and PR card issue date

Changing the PR acquired date

PR status - wrong dates

Settled status instead of PR certification

If you haven't got children born in the UK who would benefit from an earlier PR acquired date, or if you do not meet the criteria above, you may wish to apply for settled status instead.
Settled status is based purely on residence rather than being a qualified person and it's a much simpler, quicker application

See: EU Settlement Scheme