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What European Student Paperwork Do You Need?

Going abroad? Dig deep and see what we can help you with

As an EU citizen you can live in any EU country if you are; studying for more than three months, have sufficient income (from any source, which can be work, savings or parents), have health insurance cover in that country, and you are enrolled at an approved university or other educational institution. If you are a student studying abroad within the EU you automatically receive the same rights for permanent residence, however, if you an individual from outside the EU then you may need to apply for a student visa and other permits.

There are lot of things to consider and to sort out before you start your degree course abroad, from visas to identity cards to where you’re going to stay.


The different housing options depend on the institution and country you are choosing to study in. Some universities abroad may offer students a place on their campus, a chance to participate in a home stay with a nearby family or live off campus in student housing, or give information about private landlords.

If students are choosing to stay in privately rented accommodation, some landlords require a guarantor (someone who can vouch for you paying your rent on time and if you aren’t able to pay them, the guarantor can pay your fees for you). However, most landlords prefer a guarantor who is permanently resident in that country, and if you don’t know anybody who lives in the country it can be hard to find. If you can’t find a guarantor, some landlord’s may ask for rent months in advance or in lump sums to ensure that you’ll be able to pay your rent. If this is the case, speak to your chosen university to get all the information you need.

Some universities issue housing to students but there may be a waiting list. Apply as soon as you receive an offer (even if it is 6 months in advance) because you wouldn’t want to arrive in the country and not have a place to live. If you are waiting for student housing through your university but need a place to stay, we advise contacting your university for a list of privately rented, or B&B and hostel addresses so that you have accommodation that is trustworthy and/or student friendly.

Permits and Identity cards

As an EU national, most countries within the EU do not require you to apply for resident permits or identity cards as your EU passport will suffice. However, depending on the country, some students may need to apply for a permit or identity card after three months of living in the country or to register at the local authority. More information can be found on individual country section information, or by contacting the embassy of the country you will be living in.

If you are required to apply for a residence permit or identity card, this will enable you to live, study and work within that country with no limits and receive health care treatment or financial help. Usually, the application requires two passport sized photographs, proof of income which can be from savings or from work, and proof of where you are studying (which needs to be an approved university or education institution). Your chosen university can give you more information regarding EU and/or international students.

However, Switzerland is slightly different as it isn’t a part of the EU or the EEA, but the citizens of Switzerland and EU nationals have the same rights there of EU citizens. Therefore the procedure differs:

Student Visas for Switzerland

Students from the EU have to register with the Resident’s Registration Office of their local authority within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland and also need to apply for a resident permit. Students will have to bring along: a valid passport, proof of university registration, a bank statement to provide evidence of funds, a proof of address and passport suitable photographs.

Students who are studying abroad should carry their passports, permits or identity cards with them at all times in case of emergencies or needing to pass an internal border. This will show your personal identity and your right to live and be in that country at that time.

Applying for university

Depending on the institution, students who wish to study abroad may need to apply to the university directly or via a system that is used across the country. Some countries also require students to apply via the national application, and then to also apply directly to the institution.

Each university has its own application deadlines, and if you are applying for a university in a few different countries write down their deadlines to avoid confusion. The university application will inform you of what documents and qualifications you need to provide as proof for enrolment.

Applying for financial support

Students can contact their chosen university abroad or their embassy in their home country for information on financial support such as grants, scholarships, bursaries, loans and tuition fee loans. They can also provide you with information on when to apply for each of the financial aid and the eligibility criteria you may need to be awarded help. Some of these financial aids are means-tested and certain circumstances need to be met to receive help, this could mean your household income or your parents and your own earnings can be taken into account.

It is vital that you have all of your important paperwork available before you move. Always have a photocopy of your passport, birth certificate, enrolment and housing information at your university, and print off any emails from the country’s embassy or university with important information that you might need to reference with you when you arrive.