Luxembourg is a small European country bordering France, Belgium, and Germany. It is a parliamentary democracy headed by a constitutional monarch, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The country is divided into three districts: Diekirch, Grevenmacher, and Luxembourg. Those, in turn, are divided into 12 cantons and 102 communes. Each of the communes has its own local government.
Foreigners coming to Luxembourg on a resident visa must declare their presence to their commune of residence upon arrival, as well as declare their departure when they leave. By virtue of the principle of communal autonomy, the declaration procedures may vary from one commune to another. This includes all foreigners intending to reside permanently in Luxembourg.
Advantages of Living in Luxembourg
It pays to be a resident of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg as it is an opportunity to live, study and work freely in one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. This small state offers its residents comfortable living conditions, a large number of social benefits, and a high level of security. Additionally, the citizens and residents of Luxembourg enjoy the following privileges:
- A strong passport. A Luxembourg passport gives its holder easy access to 176 countries either visa-free or via a visa upon arrival/e-pass. Permanent and long-term residents can also enjoy a number of benefits. A Luxembourg resident can travel visa-free throughout the Schengen area — and not just come and go but stay in any member state for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Also, if you want to stay longer, with a Luxembourg residence permit, it will not be hard to arrange.
- High-paying jobs. The minimum wage in Luxembourg in 2023 was 3085.11 EUR per month for highly qualified workers and 2570.93 EUR for the rest of the workforce. Moreover, local employers are willing to hire foreign workers. To illustrate, as of January 1, 2023, Luxembourg had a population of 660,800 people, 313,400 of which were foreigners. Most of them were employed, as the overall unemployment rate in the country is quite low, standing at 4.9%. The labour market showed an increase in the employment of foreign workers. In any case, residents who are looking for employment receive unemployment benefits in Luxembourg. In 2023, it was 80% of the salary received in the last three months before the loss of employment, but no more than 2.5 minimum social wages for unskilled workers.
- Living in a country with an ideal geographical location. It is very fast and easy to get from Luxembourg to Frankfurt, Brussels, Paris, and London.
- A strong banking sector and many offshore opportunities for international entrepreneurs.
Photo: Cedric Letsch (Unsplash)
Long-term Residence Permit Requirements
Third-country nationals (i.e. neither an EU member state nor Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, or Switzerland) may obtain long-term resident status in Luxembourg. Unlike a permanent residence permit, which is available only to citizens of EU countries and their family members, long-term residence is only valid for a period of five years. It is renewable, but you will have to go through the whole procedure again.
To obtain long-term residency, a foreigner must have been lawfully residing in Luxembourg for an uninterrupted period of at least five years. The length of the stay is not deemed to be interrupted by temporary absences of less than six consecutive months and which do not exceed a total of more than 10 months in five years. There is an exception to this. A person can leave Luxembourg for a maximum of 12 consecutive months for important reasons, such as pregnancy and childbirth, a serious illness, studies or professional training. In any such case, a foreigner wishing to obtain long-term residency has to justify their extended absence with corresponding medical or other certificates.
For the calculation of the five-year period for recipients of international protection, at least half the period between the date on which the application for international protection is submitted, and the date on which the corresponding residence permit is granted, is taken into account. If the said period exceeds 18 months, the entire period is taken into account.
A considerable amount of time may pass between applying for an international protection residence permit and obtaining one. During this processing period, the applicant stays in Luxembourg legally without a resident card. If the processing time is less than 18 months, the amount to be taken into account for the calculation of long-term residency eligibility will be decided individually in each case but will never be less than a half.
Different provisions apply to holders of an 'EU Blue Card' issued to highly qualified workers. They are allowed to add together their stays in different member states in order to satisfy the requirements regarding the duration of stay, if the following conditions are met:
- Five years of lawful and uninterrupted residence in the EU as an EU Blue Card holder
- Two years of lawful and uninterrupted residence in Luxembourg prior to application as an EU Blue Card holder
The following third-country nationals staying in Luxembourg may not benefit from long-term resident status: seasonal, seconded or transferred workers, students or persons registered in vocational training programmes, as well as persons holding a temporary resident permit with a specific limited validity.
Luxembourg. Photo: Polina Sushko (Unsplash)
In any case, uninterrupted long-term stay is only one of the Luxembourg residency requirements. Other prerequisites for registration of long-term residency include:
- a valid passport;
- stable, regular, and sufficient resources to support the applicant and the family members under their care, if they are included in the application. The immigration authorities must be sure that the foreigner will not have to resort to social welfare (REVIS);
- proof of suitable housing;
- a health insurance certificate for the applicant and their family, if any;
- good character. You must not have violated the law or committed a serious crime. Having a criminal record, history of domestic violence and other acts that constitute a threat to public order or public safety may be grounds to reject an application for long-term residence.
How to Apply for Long-Term Residency
Applications are usually submitted in person, but Luxembourg's laws allow third-country nationals to mandate a third party to submit the application on their behalf. It is usually the employer who does this, but there may be other options. The mandate holder must provide a written power of attorney duly drafted in compliance with local legislation.
Also note that the application for long-term resident status must be submitted immediately at the end of the five-year residence period.
You may apply by post sending the documents to the Immigration Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs at B.P. 752 L-2017 Luxembourg. Alternatively, the application can be submitted via the MyGuichet.lu website or mobile app.
Documents Required for Permanent Residence in Luxembourg
The application form for long-term residency can be found on the official website of the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. When applying online, you can fill out the application form directly on the website or in the mobile app. The following documents must be attached to the application:
- a copy of a valid passport, in its entirety;
- proof of sufficient financial resources, such as an employment contract that indicates the salary or a tax return. The applicant must show their income for the five years preceding the application. It is prohibited to include any benefits from REVIS in the income. Whether the applicant has sufficient financial resources is assessed by comparison with the social minimum wage for unskilled workers. The minimum wage is often revised, so if you want to check how much it is, check the website of the Ministry of Social Security. The required amount differs. For instance, the main applicant and their spouse must have at least 100% of the minimum wage, while for dependent children, 75-80% is enough;
- proof of suitable housing in Luxembourg, such as a rental agreement or a title deed;
- a social security registration certificate for the past five years. You can request one of these on the website of the Joint Social Security Centre (CCSS);
- a health insurance certificate for the applicant and their family;
- an extract of the applicant's criminal record from the national criminal records register. It contains the sentences pronounced by the Luxembourg criminal jurisdictions and may also contain sentences pronounced abroad in the EU member states. You can request your extract remotely or in person at the Criminal Records Department (Service du casier judiciaire) in Luxembourg City. Extracts are issued free of charge;
- any document proving the applicant's integration in Luxembourg society, such as a certificate of language courses, a local club member card, etc;
- proof of payment of a fee of 80 EUR;
- a power of attorney, if the foreigner applies for permanent residence via a third party.
Luxembourg. Photo: Cedric Letsch (Unsplash)
Obtaining Long-Term Residency
After receiving the completed application and all the supporting documents, the Immigration Directorate will provide a receipt. It also acts as temporary authorisation to stay in the country until the long-term residence permit is issued, in the event that the previous residence permit expires during the application processing period. This receipt cannot be used as a travel document in the Schengen area, and is therefore valid only in Luxembourg.
The maximum processing period is six months. If no response is received from the Immigration Directorate within this time limit, the applicant may consider their application denied.
When the application is approved, the applicant will receive a letter inviting them to make an appointment with the Immigration Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Please note that while the application can be submitted via a third party, the applicant must appear in person to complete the procedure. This is due to the fact that the residence permit contains biometric data, and therefore requires the holder to appear in order to have their fingerprints taken.
At the Immigration Directorate, the foreigner will have their photograph taken, or they may bring a recent photograph compliant with ICAO standards.
A few days later, the applicant can pick up the residence permit in person, by appointment.
Luxembourg Residence Permit
A permanent resident card of Luxembourg takes the form of a chip card that a foreigner should take with them to any official institutions in Luxembourg. It also allows free travel inside the Schengen area. However, you still need to have your passport with you, which doubles as a travel document. Inside Luxembourg, though, there is practically no need to carry your passport.
The residence permit contains the information about its holder, the unlimited work permit, and the validity period. A Luxembourg PR visa card is issued for five years, after which you need to apply to the Immigration Department again in person or online for renewal.
Holders are to apply two months prior to the expiry date of the permit. Renewal also costs 80 EUR, but you will not have to provide all the documents again. The only papers required are a copy of your passport (entire) and a recent extract of your Luxembourg criminal record.
Permit holders who intend to leave Luxembourg for more than six months must return their residence permit to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and make a declaration of departure at the administration of the commune where they resided.
Luxembourg Permanent Resident Visa for EU Citizens
A permanent residence permit is available exclusively to EU citizens, as well as citizens of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland and their family members.
As with a long-term residence permit, the requirement for a permanent residence permit is to reside in the country for five years prior to application. There are some exceptions, though. Permanent residence can be granted before five years have passed to workers who:
- cease their activities either at retirement age or take early retirement and who have been living in Luxembourg or another EU member state for the past 12 months and have been living in the Duchy for an uninterrupted period of the past three years;
- cease their activities in Luxembourg or in another EU member state due to permanent incapacity for work. They must also have been living in Luxembourg for an uninterrupted period of at least two years;
- receive an accident pension from the Luxembourg authorities due to a work-related accident or an occupational illness. No requirements regarding duration of residence apply in this case;
- after three years of uninterrupted activity and residence in Luxembourg start to work in another EU member state, all the while remaining resident in Luxembourg. An additional requirement for this case is to return to Luxembourg each day or at least once a week.
Vianden Castle, Luxembourg. Photo: Mike van den Bos (Unsplash)
A permanent residence application is submitted, like the one for long-term residence, in person or online to the same addresses. Europeans do not need to come in person to collect their residence permit card. The permit is delivered to them by post within one month of submission of the application.
EU citizens must submit their application together with a copy of their valid identity card or their passport.
EU citizens who have received a permanent residence permit are not required to live in Luxembourg permanently. They can come and go, but the time of their absence should not exceed two consecutive years, in which case the permit may be revoked.
In a Nutshell
As a general rule, all foreigners who have lived in Luxembourg for five years have the right to apply for a change of their status from a temporary resident to a permanent or long-term resident. The first option is available to EU citizens and their family members. The second one is intended for citizens of third countries.
There are some differences between the two types of permits. Long-term residency has a limited validity of five years, while permanent residence has no expiry date. Long-term residency is revoked after six months of absence from Luxembourg, while permanent residents can leave the country for up to two years.
Luxembourg permanent residence requirements are fewer than the equivalent list of documents third-country nationals need to collect in order to obtain long-term residency.
Another significant difference lies in the application processing time. Applicants for a long-term resident card have to wait for up to six months, while for Europeans the process takes a month at most.
Cover photo: Vianden, Luxembourg. Thibault Milan (Unsplash)