A lot of countries in the EU are now closing their borders due to COVID-19.

I'm looking for an answer that applies to all such EU countries that have shut their borders for "foreigners", however, to use some example for my question, Poland states:

Entry into Poland is still allowed for:

a) Nationals of Poland, their spouses and children.

c) Passengers with a temporary or permanent residence permit.

Now, as a not-Polish citizen but a citizen of another EU country, my understanding has always been that by default we have a temporary residence permit for any EU country we would like to travel to? (And obviously after 5 years we automatically get a permanent residence permit if stayed in the country)

Does this count as having a temporary residence permit (if I don't normally live in such country but would like to travel or transit there as a EU citizen)?

P.S. There's a similar text for Czechia, Lithuania, Slovakia which is not as vague as Poland's:

Passengers are not allowed to enter Czechia.

- This does not apply to nationals of Czechia.

- This does not apply to passengers with a Czech residence permit for stay over 90 days or for permanent stay.

1. Passengers are not allowed to enter Lithuania

-This does not apply to nationals of Lithuania

-This does not apply to residents of Lithuania

Passengers are not allowed to enter Slovakia.

-This does not apply to nationals and residents of Slovakia. They must remain in quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

But still vague whether arriving into the country as an EU citizen is considered that you do have residence.

  • I think that in that case, foreigners means "tourists"
    – Max
    Mar 16, 2020 at 11:07
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    I have heard that non resident citizens are asked to stay in their country of residence, (Slovakia in this case.) Not sure if they can block citizens from returning home.
    – Willeke
    Mar 16, 2020 at 11:08
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    A foreigner is exactly what it is, a foreigner. An Italian is not a Norwegian regardless of EU. The union is crumbling as the metal meets the fire. Expect more BREXITs in the next few years. Mar 16, 2020 at 12:45
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    @user56513 Just stating the obvious here, but Norway is not part of the EU, and neither does metal normally crumble when heated.
    – undercat
    Mar 16, 2020 at 14:12
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    @MarkJohnson "for reasons of public safety...": public health is also a reason for restricting free movement. But the directive seems to imply that such measures must be taken on an individualized basis. If that is true, then wholesale closing of the border would not be in keeping with the directive.
    – phoog
    Mar 16, 2020 at 14:27

4 Answers 4


Yes, EU citizens are foreigners. The Czech regulations now only allow Czech citizens, foreigners with temporary residence over 90 days and permanent residents to enter the country.

enter image description here Graphics by the Ministry of the Interior of CR

Details can be found in this document.

From midnight from Sunday to Monday, the ban to entry is extended to all foreigners, not only from high risk epidemic countries. Foreigners residing in the Czech Republic with temporary residence over 90 days or permanent residence are excluded from this measure.

  1. The prohibition of entry, as referred in point I. of the Resolution, does not apply for:

Czech citizens or foreigners with temporary or permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic, who are demonstrably regularly crossing internal borders, i.e. cross-border workers working within 100 km from the state border,

citizens of Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia who are demonstrably regularly crossing internal borders, i.e. cross-border workers working within 100 km from the state border,

EU citizen transiting through the Czech Republic territory to his/her home country – this evidence of transit must be accompanied with signed declaration of honour,

foreigner with residence permit in another EU Member State transiting through the Czech Republic territory – this evidence of transit must be accompanied with signed declaration of honour.

  • 1
    For people like me who wished they could click on the links in the image - mvcr.cz/clanek/cestovani-po-dobu-nouzoveho-stavu.aspx and koronavirus.mzcr.cz/…
    – kiradotee
    Mar 17, 2020 at 0:24
  • Thank you. Definitely answers the headline of the question whether EU citizens are treated as foreigners! :) Though, the juicy part is in the body of the question after the headline - whether the "Foreigner with residence permit in CZE" = EU citizen? As by default an EU citizen would normally have a residence permit to any EU country...
    – kiradotee
    Mar 17, 2020 at 0:27
  • Although Czechia is a bit different from Poland in the sense that it specifies "temporary residence over 90 days"... though wonder whether this means that the person has already lived for 90 days or that they simply have the right to live there over 90 days...
    – kiradotee
    Mar 17, 2020 at 0:37
  • @kiradote It should be for people already residing. Not people having an EU reciprocal right. But my colleague wasn't to the airplane to Prague in Spain because he had no Czech ID. He has been working and studying in the Czech Republic for 20years... Mar 17, 2020 at 8:31
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    @kiradotee Having the right to become a resident and being a resident are not the same thing. That's what I was trying to explain in my answer.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 17, 2020 at 9:27

To answer another part of your question (and comments) that doesn't seem to have been addressed directly: there is a clear difference between being an EU citizen and having residence. In fact, in normal times, your right to enter another EU country for a short-term visit is stronger than your right to take up residence in the same country. After some time, EU citizens even become “permanent residents”, being granted additional rights.

This is first and foremost a material fact, not necessarily tied to a specific document (even if it's typically possible to request one). For example, if you have a job and a home in the country and spend most of your time there, you're a resident. In practice, showing health insurance cards, bank cards, public transit passes, etc. all go towards establishing that even if you don't have formal proof or a specific permit or registration.

Obviously, in the rush to fight the outbreak, I doubt all the restrictions have been carefully crafted to take such situations into account but some countries have indicated that residents are welcome to return to their homes. This should in principle cover third-country nationals who require a permit and EU citizens who do not. Incidentally, that's not your situation but many countries also make an exception for cross-border workers.

I am not aware of any EU country that has put travel restrictions in place and makes no exception whatsoever for (some) EU citizens. Conversely, I don't know any that would grant non-resident EU citizens the same rights as their own nationals.


I think we have to expect more incomplete and poorly translated information bulletins during the next weeks.

If we look into the wording, as the regulation is currently published by the Polish Government, the exception applies to:

• persons who have the right of permanent or temporary residence in the Republic of Poland or a work permit

A 'residence permit' (as in a physical document) is not necessary. The 'right of residence', which EU/EEA citizens have, is adequate, as of now, to be allowed to enter Poland.

  • According to this report: Brandenburg verhandelt mit Polen über Ausnahmeregelungen negotiations for exceptions are underway for medical personnel and border worker. If your claim is true, these negotiations would not be needed. Mar 16, 2020 at 14:36
  • @MarkJohnson The article you are linking to was published almost 20 hours ago and probably based on even older facts. Why do you think the statements there are more correct than what is as of right now published by the Polish authorities? Mar 16, 2020 at 14:44
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    I think your interpretation with which EU/EEA citizens is false. All reports state that only non poles who live or work may enter and must go into quarantine. Border guards are sending peaple back. Busses to transport peaple back may not enter to collect them. Mar 16, 2020 at 15:21
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    @MarkJohnson What you are saying does not make sense. The official information I linked to, which is published by the Polish government, directly contradicts most of what you are saying. Why are you claiming that 'all reports state' something else, when they obviously do not? Or are official informations from the government not a part of the 'all reports' you are talking about? Cross-border workers are e.g. also allowed to enter and leave without any quarantine measurements. Mar 16, 2020 at 15:53
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    @MarkJohnson "A short term visitor is not a resident" but based on their wording "who have the right of permanent or temporary residence", EU citizens by default, well - in normal times, have both right of temporary and permanent residents in any EU country... Even if they are a visitor, in normal times they still have the right of temporary and permanent residence.
    – kiradotee
    Mar 16, 2020 at 17:43

Yes, a German citizen is not a Polish citizen - but both are EU Citizens, because a citizen of each country, is through the membership of that country in the EU, automatically an EU Citizen.

United Kingdom citizens are no longer EU citizens, because the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the EU.

EU Citizens do not require, therefore cannot receive, a residence permit.

The DIRECTIVE 2004/38/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL distinguishes between 2 types of 'residence'

  • less than 3 months (section 9)
  • greater than 3 months (section 10)
    • may be required to register as resident (section 12)

This 'residence' may be restricted for reasons of public health

(12) For periods of residence of longer than three months, Member States should have the possibility to require Union citizens to register with the competent authorities in the place of residence, attested by a registration certificate issued to that effect.
(22) The Treaty allows restrictions to be placed on the right of free movement and residence on grounds of public policy, public security or public health. In order to ensure a tighter definition of the circumstances and procedural safeguards subject to which Union citizens and their family members may be denied leave to enter or may be expelled, this Directive should replace Council Directive 64/221/EEC of 25 February 1964 on the coordination of special measures concerning the movement and residence of foreign nationals, which are justified on grounds of public policy, public security or public health

Implementation in Polish law:
Citizens of the EU with families | Urząd do Spraw Cudzoziemców

Rules for entry and residence

Legal basis
The Act of July 14, 2006 on entering the territory of the Republic of Poland, residence and departure from this territory of nationals of Member States of the European Union and their family members (Journal of Laws No. 144, item. 1043, as amended) and its implementing legislation.

An EU citizen should be understood as an alien who is a national of another Member State of the EU / EEA or Switzerland.
Under Polish law, an alien is anyone who does not have Polish citizenship.
Right of residence for up to 3 months
EU citizens and their family members, who are not EU citizens, can stay in Poland for up to three months without having to meet any of the conditions of residence, other than possessing valid travel document. An EU citizen may possess other valid document confirming his/her identity and citizenship.
Residence for over 3 months
If the residence in the territory of the Republic of Poland lasts longer than three months, an EU citizen and a member of his family who are nationals of the EU are required to register their stay, and a family member who is not an EU citizen is required to obtain a residence card of a family member of an EU citizen. ...
In order to register the an EU citizen’s residence (including members of his family who are also citizens of the EU), and to obtain a residence card of a family member of an EU citizen, it is required for an EU citizen to meet the conditions of the right of residence exceeding 3 months.

Registration of residence of a European Union citizen

The application for the registration of residence of a UE citizen should be submitted in person to the voivode competent for the EU citizen’s place of residence, not later than the next business day after the expiration of 3 months period from the date of entry into the territory of the Republic of Poland.
Processing time
The case is handled immediately.
EU citizen, whose residence was registered, is issued with certificate of registration of residence of an EU citizen.

Foreigners from outside the EU | Urząd do Spraw Cudzoziemców

Polish law implementation Temporary residence permit

  • Act of 12 December 2013, on Foreigners – division V of the Act along with implementing acts

Granting temporary residence permit may be applied for if there are circumstances justifying residence within the territory of the Republic of Poland for a period longer than 3 months, excluding temporary residence permit granted due to the circumstances requiring short-term stay or due to a seasonal work.

Polish law implementation Permanent residence permit

  • Act of December 12, 2013 on foreigners – Art. 195, Art. 210 of the Act – together with implementing acts.

Permanent residence permit is granted in cases specified in Art. 195 of the Act on foreigners discussed in detail in individual tabs on this website.
Permanent residence permit is granted for an indefinite period.

Travel - Coronavirus: information and recommendations - Gov.pl website

What is the basis for closing the borders to foreign citizens?
The borders are closed pursuant to Article 46(4)(1) of the Polish act on preventing and combating infections and infectious diseases among people, which allows for temporary restrictions on a specific mode of travel when the state of epidemic threat is announced.
Not all foreign residents are banned from entering Poland
- persons who have the right of permanent or temporary residence in the Republic of Poland or a work permit


EU Citizens entering Poland for a period of less than 3 months is neither eligible for a

  • permanent or temporary residence in the Republic of Poland
  • residence card

therefore do not fullfill this condition.

The present restrictions are based on public health grounds.

These restrictions also effect their own citizens.

A Polish citizen must go into quarantine when returning to Poland.

In Italy a good, acceptable reason must be given to travel withing Italy.

The Right to health takes priority over the right to visit another country.

Hysterical statements such as:

The union is crumbling as the metal meets the fire. Expect more BREXITs in the next few years.

are unfounded.

Polen schließt seine Grenzen wegen des Coronavirus

People who work abroad and commute to work every day are excluded from the border closure.
This applies both to Poles who work abroad and foreigners who work in Poland and commute every day. Foreigners can come to work upon presentation of a corresponding document confirming their employment and are not subject to quarantine in this situation.


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    This does not answer the question: Are EU citizens (resident or not) currently allowed to enter Poland? Mar 16, 2020 at 14:19
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo indeed. I had a similar question about Slovakia, mentioned elsewhere, perhaps on Law. From what I could tell, the restriction did apply to non-Slovak EU citizens, even if they were registered as residents of Slovakia. That would seem to be in conflict with the free movement directive. (I note also that UK citizens are still treated as if they are EU citizens, similar to, for example, Norwegian citizens.)
    – phoog
    Mar 16, 2020 at 14:26
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    @MarkJohnson If you read the entire question and not just the headline, the question is not about the definition of a 'foreigner', but wether or not EU citizens are currently able to enter Poland or not. Mar 16, 2020 at 14:29
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    FWIW it looks like freedom of movement is taking a back seat to national interests at the moment. I personally think the EU governing bodies should have reacted much more quickly to the emerging risk in Italy, and therefore particularly to those countries with a land border with Italy. If they attempted to do so it hadn’t been at all visible to me
    – Traveller
    Mar 16, 2020 at 15:59
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    @Mark Johnson Well, if ever there was a time for thinking outside the box and not being hampered by laws and regulations, this is it. What is the point of the EU if, in the hour of greatest need since it was formed, its leaders don’t take a proactive stance to protect EU citizens.
    – Traveller
    Mar 16, 2020 at 16:51

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