Below is our unofficial translation of the BMI’s FAQs on residency issues related to Brexit. However since publication the BMI has also produced its own official translation which can be found on their website.
Here you will find information on the plans of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) on the residence rights of British nationals living in Germany and their family members, as well as measures for those applying for citizenship.
What is the legal status of British nationals and their family members until 29 March 2019? What can I do now if I am affected?
Until the UK leaves the EU, British nationals and their family members retain their freedom of movement. However, the general obligation to register at your local registration office applies.
Some immigration authorities [federal Foreigners Registration Offices] are planning a voluntary registration process to reach affected citizens better and to inform them about their rights. We will keep you informed.
What happens if the UK leaves with a deal?
If the withdrawal agreement is concluded, there will be a two-year transitional period until 31 December 2020, immediately after the departure on 29 March 2019. During this period, Britain will continue to be treated as an EU Member State. EU free movement rules continue to apply during this period.
Broadly speaking, the withdrawal agreement provides affected citizens with the life-long retention of rights associated with freedom of movement. At the end of the transition period, eligible British and EU nationals and their family members are entitled to reside in the EU or in Great Britain.
If you are a British citizen (or a family member of a British citizen) who moved to Germany before 31 December 2020, you will most likely be able to refer to the withdrawal agreement. For this you will have to apply to the Foreigners Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) responsible for you, and if you have not already done so, you will have to register at your local Residents Registration Office as proof of your residence. Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration/application procedure before the departure date.
What happens if there is no deal? Will the British have to leave Germany immediately?
No, no British citizen will have to leave Germany immediately in the case of ‘no deal’. The Federal Government is planning a transitional period of initially three months, which can be extended. During this time, British citizens and their family members will be able to continue to live and work in Germany without a residence permit.
To stay longer, however, all those affected are required to apply at their local office for a residence permit before the end of the transitional period and, if they have not yet done so, to register at their local Foreigners Registration Office. During the time from the application to the decision, further stay is allowed.
Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration / application procedure before the withdrawal date.
What permanent status do British nationals and their family members have after a ‘no deal’ Brexit?
If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the legal status of the affected British citizens will change permanently. They lose their status as EU citizens (or family members of an EU citizen) and become third-country nationals.
To stay in Germany after the end of the three-month transitional period, those concerned will need a residence permit, and will have to apply for this at the local Foreigners Registration Office. During the time from the application to the decision, further stay is automatically allowed.
Information on residence permits is available at the website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, as well as at your local Foreigners Registration Office. Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration/application procedure before the withdrawal date.
Am I affected?
If you have British and another EU citizenship:
Nothing changes for you. As an EU citizen, you are still entitled to freedom of movement. You may also keep your British nationality.
If you have British and German citizenship:
As a German, you are naturally entitled to reside in Germany without a residence permit. In some circumstances, you will still derive additional rights from the Withdrawal Agreement (e.g. professional recognition, etc.).
If you are a British citizen and also a family member of an EU national:
You can probably continue to exercise free movement. Nevertheless, you should also register at your local Foreigners Registration Office, if such a procedure is provided. You may be issued a residence card for EU citizens’ family members.
If you are a British citizen and not a national of another EU member state
You will need a residence permit for your permanent stay in Germany. If you have not already done so, you should also register at your local Registration Office (Anmeldung) and Immigration Office.
Which immigration office is responsible for me?
This depends on your place of residence. You can search for your local office here.
Can German citizens travel to the UK for short stays without a visa, and can British citizens come to Germany?
Probably, yes. The EU has initiated a legal agreement on reciprocal visa-free travel. This includes stays of up to 90 days per 180 days. British citizens can travel throughout the Schengen area.
What changes for people applying to become German citizens?
If the withdrawal agreement is concluded, the Federal Government’s Brexit Transition Act contains transitional provisions for British citizens applying for German citizenship, and German citizens applying for British citizenship before the end of the transition period (until 31 December 2020). You should be allowed to retain your previous British or German nationality, even if the decision on naturalization is made after the end of the transition period, and as long as all other conditions for naturalization are met before the end of the transition.
In the event of a ‘no deal’ departure, similar arrangements will apply to those applying for citizenship before the date of departure (until 29 March 2019). For details, see the draft bill of the Law on transitional provisions in the field of work, education, health, social affairs and citizenship’ on the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.