What is the change? The United Kingdom will soon launch a passport return service that will allow EEA and Swiss nationals to travel abroad while permanent residence and residence card applications are pending.

What does the change mean? Beginning Oct. 1, EEA and Swiss nationals will be able to submit EEA(PR) or EEA(QP) (residence card) applications online and make appointments with participating local authorities. The local authorities will send photocopies of applicants’  passports to the Home Office and then return the passports to the applicants, allowing them to travel while their applications are pending.

  • Implementation time frame:  1.
  • Visas/permits affected: EEA permanent residence and residence cards (which confirm that an EEA national is a “qualified person” by exercising treaty rights in the U.K.)
  • Who is affected: EEA nationals applying for permanent residence or residence as a qualified person. The service will not be available, however, to those with a non-EEA/non-Swiss family member applying for residence or permanent residence.
  • Business impact: The service is a welcome development for frequent business travelers, who will be able to retain their passports while residence applications are pending.
  • Next steps: The U.K. government has published lists of participating local authorities in Greater London, the rest of England and Wales.

Background: The passport return service will be provided by local authorities in England and Wales. Applicants will be able to submit their EEA(PR) or EEA(QP) forms online and then make an appointment with the appropriate local authority within five days. That authority, in turn, will copy the applicant’s EEA or Swiss passport before sending a copy of the passport, checklist and application to the Home Office for processing. Local authorities will have no bearing on the success of residence applications, nor will they be available to provide advice on how to complete applications.

BAL Analysis: The primary benefit of the new program is that affected EEA and Swiss nationals will be able to travel while their permanent residence or residence card applications are pending. Contact BAL for help in preparing your residence application or gathering the appropriate supporting documentation.   

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact