The new German law on the future of UK citizens’ residence in Germany, covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, was passed in November 2020 by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat and signed off by the German President, coming into force on 24th November 2020.
For all UK citizens who are living in Germany at the end of transition on 31st December 2020, (and that means actually registered with an ‘Anmeldung’ at your local Bürgeramt not just, for example, on a business trip or holiday) this law is really important. It’s the culmination of hard negotiation and lobbying that British in Germany e.V. has been involved in with German and British authorities over many months. It basically puts into German law all your future rights to live, work, study and retire in Germany and defines how you will be able to evidence those rights in future.
The fundamental decision Germany has adopted (which British in Germany e.V. supports) is an approach known as “declaratory”. This means that if you are registered as living in Germany and are exercising your free movement rights at the end of transition then, by law, you acquire residence status in Germany as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement.
What you need to do is to request an individual residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB) so you have evidence of your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
The first step is to notify your local Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde) that you are living in Germany .
Important to note, this is not the same as the registration (Anmeldung), which you are required to do on arrival in Germany.
If you already have a Daueraufenthaltsbescheinigung-EU (Certificate of the right of permanent residence for EU citizens), you will be able to swap this for the new document without charge.
If you have dual UK-German citizenship, you have residence rights in Germany as a citizen and do not need to request an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB.
So what do UK citizens in Germany need to do now?
Contact your local Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde) asap* You can tell them that in accordance with § 16 FreizügG/EU and Article 18 (4) of the Withdrawal Agreement, you wish to:
- Notify them of your residence in Germany, having exercised your free movement rights under EU law
- Request that they issue you with a residence document (Aufenthaltstitel-GB)
*It’s possible that the Ausländerbehörde may have already contacted you, and we know from our members some have already done so. Others may be providing information on how to start the process via their local web page. Check it out, but if you haven’t heard anything, it’s definitely worth you taking the initiative yourself.
You can check which office is responsible for you here: https://www.bamf.de/DE/Service/ServiceCenter/BeratungVorOrt/Auslaenderbehoerden/auslaenderbehoerden-node.html
The time period set by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement for notifying of residence in Germany is 6 months from end of transition i.e. up to 30th June, 2021.
The Ausländerbehörde will want to see your passport as proof of identity and UK citizenship, plus evidence of your local registration (Anmeldung). You may need to get an up-to-date Meldebescheinigung from your local town hall or other registration office. To visit the Ausländerbehörde you will probably need to make an appointment, especially in these Covid times when phone or e-mail appointments will be more popular.
You may also be asked for other documents that will help to show your residence in Germany under EU freedom of movement rules, such as tax, salary or bank statements, or evidence of student status.
Withdrawal Agreement and residency
You are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement if you are legally resident in Germany at the end of the transition period and if you continue to live here after this date. “Legally resident” means that you meet the conditions that apply to an EU citizen exercising free movement rights.
As part of establishing that you are legally resident, if at all possible, make sure you have your Anmeldung (local registration) before 31st December, 2020. However, an Anmeldung alone is neither necessary nor sufficient for you to gain a status under the Withdrawal Agreement.
What do I end up with?
The residence document which you should receive (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB) will look something like this:
The right to work will be noted under “Anmerkungen”. This is also where a note may be included to state that you have permanent residency (after 5 years) or that you also have a Blue Card or EU long term residence permit.
Our current understanding is that these documents will be produced centrally and that production will start in January 2021. So even if you are able to start the process in December with your local Ausländerbehörde, the document will probably not be issued before the beginning of 2021.
The standard cost for issuing an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB will be EUR 37.00 for those over 24 and EUR 22.80 for those who are younger. This is the same cost of an identity card for a German citizen.
What happens locally?
Local Ausländerbehörde around the country are responsible for issuing residence documents. Some have already updated their websites with the latest information, including information about what steps you should take, but some haven’t yet. As we’ve said, some offices have already written directly to UK citizens in their area, while others may take a different approach. As always, with the German federal system, there are likely to be differences in the ways that Ausländerbehörde run the process. Therefore British in Germany e.V. advises that you take the initiative yourself to contact them if you’ve not heard anything. While the processing for the Aufenthaltsdokumente-GB is local, it’s important to remember that the legal framework for the new German residency law is national.
German and UK government information
Press release from the German Ministry of the Interior (BMI)
FAQs relating to the German national law which may be a useful reference when talking to your local Ausländerbehörde.
The UK Government and the British Embassy in Germany publish information for UK citizens in Germany. You can request regular update emails via the website.
Information on Withdrawal Agreement rights
Summaries and detailed guides from British in Europe https://www.britishineurope.org/page/1016540-explanatory-guides
British in Germany e.V. is run by volunteers all giving their time and their expertise for free. We therefore value your membership for 15 Euros a year, which goes towards expenses incurred in running the organisation. You can apply for membership here.