How to apply for a UK EEA Family Permit as a US citizen in Madrid

EEA Family Permit.jpg


The target audience for this post is quite specific, but, nonetheless, I hope it will be helpful to those who come across it while searching for information about how to apply for a UK EEA Family Permit as a US citizen in Madrid.

As you probably know by now, my plan is to move to the UK with my Spanish boyfriend in July 2016. I’ve been unhappy teaching English and I’m ready for my next step- doing a Master’s program!

However, as those of you who found this post by Google search already know, Europe doesn’t make it easy for Americans to live here for more than a few months at a time.

Luckily, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have a European family member (which includes civil partners and spouses!), there is a pretty easy way to get residence rights in the UK called the EEA Family Permit, and I’m going to outline my experience and the steps I’ve taken to apply for an EEA Family Permit, the documents I’ve submitted, and ultimately the final outcome.

If you haven’t already read the page about the EEA Family Permit, you should do that first. There is lots of helpful information there, but you will probably be left with some questions.

Googling these questions will lead you to tons of message boards about the topics, but I found that many of these forums were from as far back as 2007, and with immigration laws, I always prefer to read about recent experiences (hence, my writing this).

I’m only going to be writing about my experiences applying as the civil partner of a European citizen (specifically, a Spanish one) and my in-person experiences at the Teleperformace Madrid VisaApplication Centre.

Apply for an EEA Family Permit

Step 1- Create an application

First, I had to create an online account for my application at the Visa4UK website. Once I logged in, I was able to create a new application by clicking “Apply For Myself” in the upper lefthand side of the menu. After filling in my basic details (name, passport number, phone number, birthdate, intended travel date and current location), I chose the type of visa.

For an EEA Family Permit visa, I choose “Other” for Reason for Visit, “EEA/Swiss Family Member” for Visa Type, and then “EEA Family Member” for Visa Sub Type

At this stage I was notified that the Teleperformance Madrid VisaApplication Centre charges an extra fee during the payment process. I ignored this for the time being. FIY, an EEA Family Permit should cost you nothing! It’s free.


Step 2- Fill out the application and book an appointment

After creating my account, I had to fill in all of the necessary parts of the application. There were about eight sections on a menu to the left of the application, and as each section is completed (with all mandatory fields filled in), it turns green.

The information you need for this sections is all stuff that you’ll probably already have on hand, but maybe not. Your personal identification documents and numbers, your EEA Family Member/Partner’s documents and numbers, and your passport to refer to all the trips you’ve made in the past 10 years (!!!) are pretty standard, but also some other stuff like an address in the UK where you’ll be staying, information about jobs (if your partner is already living in the UK) and some other basic financial questions.

Many of  the forums I read said that a lot of this information was not necessary to apply for an EEA Family Permit and that you could just write “not applicable’ in a bunch of the fields and then write a not about why you did so at the end of your application, but I didn’t want to be obstinate so I filled in everything I feasibly could.

Filling out the application took me about an hour (you can save and come back though). After that, I had to sign a Declaration, which you’ll see as the next step on your Visa4UK homepage. I can’t remember specifically but I think it just said that everything was true etc.

After that, I booked an appointment to go to the Teleperformance Madrid VisaApplication Centre in-person.

As far as I can tell you can only book a month in advance which, at first, was a problem for me. I contacted them to ask about this using their contact page and surprisingly, received a reply within hours informing me that ” the appointments showing on the website are the earliest possible dates. As the website is updated on a daily basis, you may wish to keep an eye on the website as a more suitable date may appear in due course.”

I booked my appointment on Tuesday February 23rd and ultimately decided to go the following Monday, February 29th. This resulted in a scramble to get my supporting documents together in a flash, as well as figuring out transportation to Madrid which is a 6-7 hour car ride away from where I live.

Once I booked the appointment, I was prompted to make an account on the TLSContact website in order to track my application process. At this stage, I also saw that return courier service was available for 22€. I obviously paid for this so that they could send my passport back to me rather than me making the trip all the way to Madrid again. There are other premium services you can pay for too, like priority visa processing, premium lounge service and walk-in service etc.


Step 3- Bring supporting documents to an in-person appointment

After a few stressful days of gathering documents and making photocopies and getting a translation and new passport photos, I finally made it to Madrid the afternoon before the day of my appointment. Luckily I was able to stay with a friend, and the next morning hopped on the Metro to Plaza de Castilla and it was a quick 5 minute walk to the Visa Centre for my 9:30am appointment.

The Teleperformance Madrid VisaApplication Centre is located at Avenida de Asturias, 9. It’s nearly impossible to miss as the whole wall at the front of the building is covered in plants and moss, and there is a playground right in front of it.

I got there about 20 minutes early and waited for about 5 minutes on a short wall at the playground until the security guard called out for anyone with a 9:30 appointment.

I went in and he asked me for my GWF number, which is the number that gets assigned to your application once you create it. I had my appointment confirmation printed out and the GWF number is clearly stated there.

Then, he searched my purse and my backpack, scanned me with his metal detection wand, and asked if I had brought a photocopy of my TIE (my Spanish residency card) and a passport photo just to make sure. I had, so he sent me to the left to wait in line at a glass window.

When it was my turn at the window, I had to give the man the printout of my application and my passport photo which he attached. I believe he also took the photocopy of my TIE and he wrote on my application “EEA Family Permit” in red marker.

He then folded up a plastic DHL courier envelope and gave me all of my documents and the envelope back in a red plastic folder and told me to go to the waiting room where they would call my name for my appointment.

I went through the turn style and took a seat, but probably only waited about 3-5 minutes. Once my name was called, I went to the desk of the woman who had called me and sat down. She asked me to hand over all of the documents I had brought.

I’m going to state again that I know most of these documents are technically not required, as even the EEA Family Permit itself is technically not required if you can prove your relationship to an EEA Citizen at the UK border, but I would much rather be safe than sorry and I had no problem with providing many of the documents that the website suggests as supporting documents.

I sat down and the woman asked if I preferred to speak in English or Spanish and I said whichever she preferred. She was Spanish but she chose to speak in English. She asked for my stack of documents (rather than asking me for one at a time) and I presented:

  • My passport and a colored copy of the personal details/signature page (if you have more than one passport, like old, full, and expired passports you are supposed to present them here, but my passport from childhood is long gone so I didn’t mention it in my application)
  • A passport photo (which the man at the window had already attached to my application printout)
  • My application print out
  • My partner’s passport and a colored copy (Yes, she asked if she could keep both my AND my partner’s passports)
  • A colored copy of my partner’s DNI (Spanish National ID)
  • A letter from my partner stating that we would be traveling together to the UK and that once there he would be exercising his “treaty rights” as a jobseeker, and his request that I please be granted an EEA Family Permit, plus a list of the enclosed documents.
  • Our original civil union certificate and an official translation (I also had a colored copy of the original certificate but she asked if she could take the original and I said yes as I can always get another one fairly easily)
  • A printout of my offer letter from the University of Bristol accepting my application to do a Master’s program there which stated dates and tuition fees
  • A letter from my dad stating that he would assume financial responsibility for me in case it became necessary and that he would be paying my university tuition fees and living expenses
  • My pay slips from the past 5 months
  • Printout of the confirmation of my payment for return courier service (which she didn’t need as the guy had already included my DHL delivery service envelope)

After she organized all my copies and stapled things together and put them in order, she printed out a list of the “supporting documents submitted.” I signed two copies, and she kept one and gave one to me. Then, I was told to go back to the waiting area to be called to get my biometrics taken.

I waited about 15 minutes and was called into a small room where I sat on a stool. I had to look up at the surveillance camera in the corner of the room and state my full name and birth date. Then I stood up and had to do fingerprints on a digital fingerprint machine. Next, I sat on the stool and looked straight ahead and had my picture taken, and finally, digitally signed on a little signature machine (like they have in a store when you use a credit card). Then she looked up at me and said “you can leave now,” and that was that.

I picked up my belongings and headed back out into the crisp Madrid morning. It was 10am when I left so the whole appointment from start to finish took about 40 minutes.

I was able to track the progress of my application on the TLSContact website on left side bar menu, look for “Track my application”. The steps were: Services Selected, Services Paid, Application Submitted, Transferred for Decision, Received by UKVI, Decision Made, Ready for Courier Return, and Dispatch by Courier.

I received my and my partner’s passports back on March 16th and 6:00pm via DHL delivery service. Inside my passport now on a previously empty page, is my “UK Entry Clearance” permit. It’s valid for 6 months from the date I applied for it. The next step is to apply for a residence card once in the UK, a process which I will also detail here once I complete it.

Compared with the Spanish bureaucracy I’ve dealt with for the past 5 years, this process was painless, even considering that I had to go to Madrid. Here’s hoping that the residence card process is just as easy!


46 thoughts on “How to apply for a UK EEA Family Permit as a US citizen in Madrid

  1. Hi there,

    My name is Juan and I am an Spanish citizen living in the UK, this page was very helpful for me and my Wife (Venezuelan citizen living in Venezuela) as we didn’t knew how to select the EEA Family Permit on the Visa4UK website, also this is the only post online were someone takes the time to explain the process in such a friendly way.

    You really dont know how happy we were to find your post and this specific bit:

    “For an EEA Family Permit visa, I choose “Other” for Reason for Visit, “EEA/Swiss Family Member” for Visa Type, and then “EEA Family Member” for Visa Sub Type”

    We even applied for the incorrect type of Visa last Week.

    Thank you so much again.


    • Hi Juanmi, I’m so glad this has helped you! That’s exactly why I wrote it… I couldn’t find any good information when I was applying either! I made the same mistake at first and accidentally started an application for the wrong visa too, and when it told me I had to pay I realized something was wrong.

      Anyway, glad this helped and hope that your wife is able to join you soon! I just arrived to the UK last week 🙂 Happy days!


      • Hi Chelsea,

        I’m trying to apply for the EEA family permit, and I started filling out the wrong application too. Did you do anything to cancel your first partial application before applying for the EEA family permit? Thanks for your help!



      • Sorry it’s taken a while to get back to you! I don’t remember if I cancelled the partial application. I’d imagine I didn’t because it was never “submitted” as it was partial. Hopefully you’ve figured it out! Good luck!


  2. Hi Chelsea,
    I’m in a similar boat. I’m Canadian applying for the EEA family permit through my Irish husband. Was having some trouble finding the EEA family permit choice when creating an application on the TLSContact website. So you remember what you selected for that? I’ve heard that it doesn’t really matter but wanted another opinion.


  3. Hi, Chelsea!
    Hope you are enjoying your life in the UK. How is your residence card application going?
    Thank you so much for this post, it is very helpful as I could not find the appropriate tab on the Visa4UK website. But now I know 🙂
    My husband and I are going to relocate to the UK in January 2017. He is British and we have been living in Spain for more than a year now. I am Ukrainian and I currently hold a family visitor visa which expires in April 2017. As far as I understand, the EEA family permit is just an entry clearance so do you know if it is possible to apply for it while still holding a valid UK family visitor visa? And do i have to apply at all in this case? Thanks a lot!



    • Hi Darya, I don’t know much about the UK family visitor visa, so I’m not sure if you could apply for the EEA family permit while still holding the visa. There is a contact form on the uk visas and immigration website for people living outside the UK and they respond within a day. Hope that helps!


  4. Hi Chelsea,
    Thanks you soooo much for sharing this. I am so confused with all this bureaucracy. I am going to apply for the same thing. And as you are already in the UK (that I am very happy for you), could you please tell me whether this family permit gives you a right to work there? Or it is only the residence card that you have to apply for in order to get a work permit?

    Thanks much,


    • Hi Anna, The EEA family permit does not explicitly state your right to work. Although as an EEA family member you do have the right to work, most employers want written proof. The only way you can get that proof is by applying for a residence card. It has been a frustrating process for me but hopefully it’s easier for you!


      • Ohh thanks much! Believe me it is a very frustrating process for me too :(( I have applied once and because we didn’t have comprehensive sickness insurance, we were rejected !! Now we want to try again, though I am sick and tired of this procedures 😦 Anyway, hope you are ok and good luck to both of us !!


  5. Hi Chelsea,

    I’m going to apply for this visa soon in Madrid for a visit to UK with my civil partner not for settling. I have a question, did you give your payslips translated? I’m planning to give without translation if you didn’t have any problem or maybe just 1 of them translated not all because they all same except dates and numbers.



  6. Hello Chelsea, I have to apply for an EEA family permit, my husband is in UK so I will travel alone. The thing is that I don’t have his passport, so is it enough with a copy? I have his ID card authenticated by the police in Spain. Do you think that is that enough? Also, the letter that you gave, I didn’t see it in the documents to provide. Could you tell me how It should be written? I mean, by computer or handmade?

    I am waiting your reply as soon as possible, because in two weeks I have to go to Madrid.


    • Hi Kaoutar, I think a photo copy of your partner’s passport would be okay, but I can’t say for sure. Because I had the original and they saw it at my appointment, they asked if they could have it. However, I don’t think its required. Last time I entered the UK (after my EEA family permit expired and still without my EEA residence card) I only had my passport, our civil partnership documents, and a photocopy of his passport and they gave me a 6-month stamp.

      The letter was typed for legibility, but I don’t think it matters!

      Good luck!


  7. Hi chelsea. I apply for family permit but now they ask for apply again with tlscontact center for get the appoiment but there is no option for family permit just for : student,
    Transit ,other non-settlement ,
    Family visitor +6 , family visitor -6 ,settlement , visitor+6, visitor -6, tier1, tier2, tier4, tier5 … what should i choose?thank you !


  8. Hi Chelsea,
    You haven’t blogged in awhile. How has living in Extremadura been? That corner of Spain flies under the radar quite a bit. We are thinking about moving to Spain, buying some business and living the Spanish lifestyle. Do you see growth there in any capacity such as tourism, business, industry….


    • Hi Denise, life has busy! I’ve left the blog up in case anyone finds the info useful, but I don’t have much time these days to write. I’m actually no longer living in Extremadura. I lived there from September 2013-June 2014. I then moved back to Andalucía for 2 years, and now I’m in England pursing a Master’s degree. As for your question about the economy, it’s hard to stay. I was in a small town in the south and didn’t see much growth over the past couple years, but I think this varies greatly by region or even city. The Spanish lifestyle is the best, though!


      • Thanks for taking the time to answer. Yes, all your hard work on the blog is valuable- you are kind to leave it up.
        It is a great site! Good luck in England- we’d love to move there but would be too affected by the cold and grey. Still- it’a SO much better than US, which is a really poor quality of quality life.
        Take care,


  9. Last week I applied for my EEA family permit, is the second time that I do it because the first time it was refused by an email. I am here to ask you that if I have received the email that the decision was made and in few days I will get back my passport, I didn’t receive any email of refuse as the last time. Could that mean that it was not refused? Could they refuse it without sending any email about the refusal? I need a reply please.

    THANKS SO MUCH!!! 😀 🙂


  10. Hello Chelsea,

    thank you so much for all information.

    I am gonna apply to EEA permit for toursitic trip. I have spanish partner.I have to go to business trip, thus i had to postpone my appointment. I will apply at 27 March and i have ticket for 13 April. There are only 13 working days. They can speed up my process or i shouldnt have any expectation and cancel all my trip?

    I would like to hear your suggestion


    • Hi Alex,

      Are you sure you need a EEA family permit to enter the UK? Depending on where you’re from and how long you plan to stay in the UK, maybe you can just enter as a tourist?

      If that’s not the case, I don’t know what to tell you. I can’t remember if there is a place on the application to write the date of your trip. If so, maybe they will see that your trip is soon and will speed it up for you. Obviously, I can’t guarantee that and have no idea what will happen. I’m a risk taker personally, so I’d probably still apply and cross my fingers that the permit would arrive before my trip. But I don’t know what is best for you in your situation.

      Good luck!


      • Hello Chealse,

        Thanks for your suggestion 🙂

        Yes there is a place to fill your travel date. Actually it is my right to travel UK with my EU partner but all say that it is better to take eea permit not to face a problem with the police. I dont have UE citizeship and yes i need visa.

        Thanks for your comment and i hope that they will speed up my process. As far as i know, they have to send my passport ot UK thus it takes time.

        Thanks again


  11. Hi Chelsea, this post had some helpful info. I am in a similar situation- American trying to get to the UK to be with my soon to be husband who is Polish, but with UK residency. I have read through so many posts, talked to lawyers, etc. and I get conflicting information. In your research did you ever come across anything about being able to apply for the EEA permit while in the UK on a tourist visa? I have read and reread that you cannot ever change your tourist visa to another type of visa. That you have to apply in your home country. However, we consulted with an immigration lawyer who said I could travel back with my partner after he comes to the US for our wedding in a few weeks and apply for the EEA permit in the UK. This just seems strange to me, based off the information I have gotten in the past.

    We plan on getting a second, possibly third opinion, in the coming days. And with article 50 being evoked in a few days over Brexit, things could really change for all EU citizens and their families.

    Just curious if you had come across anything about this. It sounds like your situation was different because you were already living and working in Spain? I have always just been a tourist when spending time in the UK. And the last time I went, I flew to the UK without a return ticket home (because I planned on spending about 5 months with him), and while as an American I get a 6 month tourist visa, I got a ton of questions at border control. I was told that without a return ticket back to the US, or a current job in the US (even though I was technically a student finishing my master thesis), my situation was suspicious enough for some file to be written up in some system somewhere. I was told that the 6 months tourist visa was a right not a privilege and i had to prove the reason why I wanted to be in the UK for that long. It was a really upsetting experience and I just don’t want to go through something like that again. Made me second guess giving up beautiful and sunny Southern California!! Love makes you do crazy things 🙂


    • So sorry for just seeing this comment now! You might be referring to the EEA family residence card (different to the family permit!) You apply from within the UK and the process takes about 6 months. I might do a post on it some time but all of the basics are on the internet. Next time you enter the UK on a one way ticket, try telling them you are in the process of applying for an EEA family residence card and they shouldn’t be so hard on you. Feel free to email me (!


  12. Hi Chelsea, thanks a lot for sharing your experience. I’m in a similar situation. I’ve been living and working in Austria for the last 6 years and am about to marry my Austrian partner and move to London. I’m a little confused because I’ve read on other blog spots that Americans who are joining their EEU spouse can directly apply for a 5-year UK Residence Card in the country and do not require a 6-month EEU Family Permit. I wanted to ask – Are you sure the Family Permit is absolutely necessary?


    • Hey Alana, I think you’re right in that the EEA family permit is not legally required. However, I felt more comfortable having it and knowing we would not be so scrutinized at the border. They are SO strict at the border here and ask you tons of questions (even with proper paperwork) and I didn’t want anything to mess up our move. It was worth it to me to take a trip to Madrid to apply for mine for the peace of mind, but you’ll probably be fine if it’s too much trouble for you to get. I think as long as you mention when you arrive to the UK that you’ll be applying for the EEA res card ASAP you likely won’t have any problems. Make sure you do bring all of your documents with you in your carry on because they will definitely ask for your marriage certificate (good to have an english translation) and address of where you’re staying, and if your partner has a job lined up I’d bring some documentation of that as well. Good luck with the move!


      • Dear Chelsea, thank you so much for your response! I really appreciate it! I believe we will be traveling by car from Austria and I don’t anticipate having many questions during our move, though I will definitely plan to have our documents (wedding certificate etc.) with us. I hope that you have a great new life in London! Sincerely, Alana


  13. Hi Chelsea,

    Thanks so much for the detailed information!

    I’m in a similar situation. I’m a US citizen with a French civil partner, living in France. I’ve recently discovered that the UK does not recognize civil partnerships (domestic or overseas) between opposite-sex couples. I thought this was curious as your application was successful and you’ve stated that you are not married but in a civil partnership with a man.

    Have you had any issues with this in applying for further UK visas?

    Thanks for your help!


    • Hi Shannon,

      In my experience, what you’ve heard is not true. I applied for both an EEA family permit and EEA residence card as the civil partner of my Spanish partner (who is a man) and it was never questioned. I just made sure to have a translation of our civil partnership document in English for my applications.

      Best of luck!


      • Hi Chelsea,

        Thanks so much for your reply! This is such a strange situation because I was refused as we’re an opposite-sex couple. Maybe they’re cracking down on formalities because of Brexit? Really happy for you that your applications went smoothly because the appeals process is hell…

        Thanks again!


    • Hi Shannon (Also Chelsea if you have any input!),

      I’m in the same boat as you; I’m an American with a French civil partner and I’ll be applying for an EEA Family Visa to go to the UK with him while he completes his doctorate. I am home in Chicago now, and was hoping to return to France to apply at the visa center in Paris. I was wondering if they scrutinized whether or not you had a visa to stay in France, because when I return I will only be there as a tourist (I had a long stay work visa, but it will be expired by the time I apply in Paris). Do you think they would send me away without some sort of French visa? Everything I have read seems to say I can apply from any center, even as a tourist, but I am nervous none the less…you know French bureaucracy!

      Thanks so much for your input,


      • I might be remembering this wrong, but I’m fairly positive I had to have my Spanish ID card (5 year residence card) to even enter the building for my EEA family permit application appointment. Perhaps it was just for ID purposes? Good luck!


  14. Hi Chelsea,

    Good to see a more relevant post than the others I’ve come across, thank you. I am currently in a pareja de hecho with my basque partner and have just applied for my EEA Family permit. it has been well past the expected 15 days, and am wondering how long it took you till you got your passport back. Call center in Sheffield is of no help at all, just robots reading from scripts.



    • Hi Anthony, if I remember correctly it took around 3 weeks to get returned, but it was quite a while ago so I don’t remember it well! It is nearly impossible to ever contact anyone from home office so I feel your frustration. Good luck! I hear that in general, processing times are longer now.


  15. Hello Chelsea,

    Thanks for the blog. Finding what type of visa is EEA family permit was very difficult for me. Luckily i found your blog 🙂

    It would be really helpful to know if civil certficate needs to be apostiled even after getting it translated from a certified translator ? Did you get yours apostiled ? I have a Romanian marriage certificate.

    Thanks in advance


  16. hello there. A letter from my partner stating that we would be traveling together you saiid,
    can you share this letter pls i really need a letter thank you so much


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