Official German can be confusing at the best of times – even for native speakers. When it comes to talking around residence rights it is important to know and be able to use the correct terms, as using the wrong vocabulary has the potential to cause serious problems. You also need to be aware if officials are using the wrong terminology with you, in case that indicates a misunderstanding of your situation and you being given less favourable conditions than those you are entitled to.
With that in mind, we have put together a quick introduction to terms you need to know (and those you need to avoid).
German-English vocabulary list:
Aufenthaltsdokument-GB – GB-residence document
Aufenthaltserlaubnis – residence permit
Aufenthaltsrecht – right of residence
Aufenthaltsstatus – residence status
Aufenthaltstitel – residence title
Aufenthaltsgesetz – Residence Act
Ausländerbehörde (might be known locally by another name such as Migrationsamt, Einwanderungsamt or similar) – Foreigners Registration Authority
Austrittsabkommen – Withdrawal Agreement
Bescheinigung über das Daueraufenthaltsrecht für Unionsbürger – Certificate of permanent residence for EU citizens
Daueraufenthaltsrecht – right of permanent residence
Drittstaatsangehörige(r) – Third Country National
Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt-EU – EU Long term residence permit
festem Wohnsitz – fixed address
freizügigkeitsberechtigt – entitled to free movement
Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU – Freedom of Movement Act/EU
Niederlassungserlaubnis – settlement permit
Here we now put these terms into action to explain further what they mean in practice (we’ve also included a bilingual summary of the information at the end):
Residence status under the Withdrawal Agreement and Freedom of Movement Act/EU
For British citizens who are in scope, your new residence status (Aufenthaltsstatus) is obtained automatically by law (kraft Gesetzes) under Article 18(4) of the Withdrawal Agreement (Austrittsabkommen) in combination with Paragraph 16 of the German Freedom of Movement Act/EU (§ 16 Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU).
You should notify the Ausländerbehörde of your residence in Germany (den Aufenthalt in Deutschland bei der Ausländerbehörde anzeigen). NB: This is not the same as registering when you move into a new property (Anmeldung einer Wohnung) – it is something completely separate.
Once you have notified them of your residence, the Ausländerbehörde should contact you to let you know the process for them issuing you with a new GB-residence document (Ausstellung eines Aufenthalsdokuments-GB). They should do this ex officio (von Amts wegen), i.e. it is not something for which you need to submit an application (Antrag) as such, even if you may need to fill in a form with some basic details.
You do not need to submit an application for a residence title to be granted (einen Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels stellen), as this is something completely different, see below for more information. Be aware of Ausländerbehörden asking you to fill in the incorrect form.
For further details, see our British in Germany brief guide to what you need to get a GB-residence document. Further information can also be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) in both English and German.
Residence titles: residence status for Third Country Nationals under the Residence Act
Residence titles (Aufenthaltstitel), fall under the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) and not the Freedom of Movement Act/EU. There are four main types of residence title, two from domestic German law and two from European law.
The residence titles from German law are:
- residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) – a temporary status
- settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) – a permanent / long-term status
The residence titles from European law are:
- EU Blue card (Blaue Karte EU) – a temporary status, similar to the German resident permit
- EU Long term residence permit (Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt-EU) – a permanent / long-term status, similar to the German settlement permit.
Additional residence titles are the visa (Visum), as well as the ICT Card (ICT Karte) and the Mobile ICT Card (Mobile ICT-Karte) – NB: ICT stands here for intra-corporate transfer.
A residence title is not gained automatically but rather must be granted (erteilt) by the Ausländerbehörde following an application.
It is important that you are aware that if you have a right of residence (Aufenthaltsrecht) under the Withdrawal Agreement, then you do not fall under the general Residence Act, which is what applies to most non-EU citizens in Germany. This is a very important distinction. The conditions under the Residence Act are much stricter and in some cases the rights attached are much less favourable.
There are some cases where you might wish to apply for a residence title under the Residence Act in addition to your automatic residence status under the Withdrawal Agreement. For example, the two residence titles from European law provide limited rights that can make it easier to move to another EU country. If you chose to apply for a residence title in addition to your status under Withdrawal Agreement, then you must of course meet all the normal relevant criteria the same as any other Third Country National (Drittstaatsangehörige/r).
British citizens who are in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement obtain a right of residence in Germany by virtue of law (German Freedom of Movement Act/EU). No application is required. Affected Brits should notify their local Foreigners Registration Authority of their residence in Germany. Following this they will be issued with a GB-residence document. They do not have to apply for a residence title to be granted under Germany’s Residence Act (e.g. a residence permit or a settlement). They may, however, possess both a residence status under the Withdrawal Agreement and a residence title under the Residence Act at the same time.
Britische Staatsangehörige, die nach dem Austrittsabkommen begünstigt sind, erhalten kraft Gesetzes (Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU) ein Aufenthaltsrecht in Deutschland. Dazu bedarf es keines Antrages. Betroffene Brit:innen sollten ihren Aufenthalt in Deutschland bei der örtlichen Ausländerbehörde anzeigen. Infolgedessen wird ihnen ein Aufenthaltsdokument-GB ausgestellt. Sie müssen keinen Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels nach dem Aufenthaltsgesetzes (z.B. die Aufenthaltserlaubnis oder die Niederlassungserlaubnis) stellen. Sie dürfen jedoch sowohl ein Aufenthaltsrecht nach dem Austrittsabkommen als auch einen Aufenthaltstitel nach dem Aufenthaltsgesetz gleichzeitig besitzen.
For more information on what you need to do, see here: what to do about residency
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