15th August 2014

Can Bulgarians claim benefits in the UK?

Bulgaria joined the EU on 1st January 2007 and initially its citizens were not granted free movement rights.  

Up until 1st January 2014 Bulgarians and similarly Romanians could only reside in the UK if they came in certain categories which included registering with the Worker Registration Scheme. However, citizens of these countries now have full movement rights and enjoy all of the same rights as other EEA nationals – to live and work freely in the UK. Therefore, Bulgarian citizens may well be eligible to apply for benefits in the UK.

In order to apply for means tested benefits they will be required to show that they meet what is known as the Habitual Residence Test. This means that they must show that they have a right to reside in the UK and intend to settle in the UK. The regulations in force from 1st January 2014 mean that to satisfy the Habitual Residence Test EEA nationals will need to have been living in the UK for at least 3 months before they can apply for benefits.

If you require further details or advice about benefits in the UK then you should contact either the Citizens Advice Centre or your local Job Centre. If you would like information on EEA applications then please contact one of our Immigration Solicitors.

For further information please get in touch with our dedicated team.

You can always call us on 0845 894 1622 or email on


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