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Free Movement - EU nationals

Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the Treaty enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and developed by EU secondary legislation and the Case law of the Court of Justice. EU citizens are entitled to:

  • look for a job in another EU country   
  • work there without needing a work permit
  • reside there for that purpose
  • stay there even after employment has finished
  • enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages

EU nationals may also have certain types of health & social security coverage transferred to the country in which they go to seek work (see coordination of social security systems).

Free movement of workers also applies, in general terms, to the countries in the European Economic Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

People working in some occupations may also be able to have their professional qualifications recognised abroad (see mutual recognition of professional qualifications).

EU social security coordination provides rules to protect the rights of people moving within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Who can benefit from this freedom?

  • Jobseekers, i.e. EU nationals who move to another EU country to look for a job, under certain conditions
  • EU nationals working in another EU country
  • EU nationals who return to their country of origin after having worked abroad.
  • Family members of the above.

Rights may differ somewhat for people who plan to be self-employed, students, and retired or otherwise economically non-active people. For more information on these groups, see Your Europe.

What restrictions are there?

  • The rights described on this site apply to people who exercise their right to free movement for work purposes.
  • There are limitations based on considerations of public security, public policy, public health grounds and employment in the public sector.
  • Nationals of Croatia may face temporary restrictions.

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