All posts by Alex C

Germany’s New Citizenship Law

After the 2021 Bundestag election, the socially-liberal Ampel coalition led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to modernise Germany’s citizenship law, including ending the restrictions on dual citizenship.

On 19 January 2024 the reform received approval from the Bundestag by a margin of 382-234 votes. The new legislation is designed to simplify the naturalization process, attract skilled workers to address labour shortages, and foster a more inclusive society.

On 22 March 2024 President Steinmeier signed off on the ‘Law to Modernize Nationality Law’ (Gesetz zur Modernisierung des Staatsangehörigkeitsrechts). It was published in the Bundesgesetzblatt on 26 March 2024 and will come into force on 27 June 2024.

The updated law reduces the length of time required to qualify for citizenship to five years, or three in the case of those who are especially well-integrated into German society. Children born in Germany will also automatically obtain citizenship if at least one parent has been a legal resident for five years.

Germany’s restrictions on holding multiple citizenships are being removed completely. Previously exemption to this was granted for example for EU citizens or to those unable to renounce their previous citizenship. UK citizens were able to benefit from this rule if they had submitted their application before the end of the Brexit transition period.

Now, Brits living in Germany who were not able to apply for German citizenship before Brexit will be able to join the tens of thousands who are already dual German-British citizens.

Becoming a German citizen has several benefits including the right to vote (or even stand for election), as well as having no restrictions on your residence. This would allow British citizens to move to the UK for several years, perhaps to care for relatives, without fear of not being allowed to return to Germany at a later date. German citizenship also means full freedom of movement in the EU, with the ability to live, work and study across Europe.

Here we answer some of the most common questions about these significant changes to Germany’s citizenship law:

What will the new law mean for me?
The new law removes the previous rules restricting dual or multiple citizenship.

If you are hoping to become a German citizen, under the new law Germany will not make you give up your previous citizenship(s). UK citizens will no longer be required to renounce their British citizenship as they have been since the end of the Brexit transition period.

Germans living in the UK will also be able to become British without losing their German citizenship or needing to apply for permission to keep it.

If you already have both German and UK citizenship then of course you will also be able to keep both.

Can I already apply for citizenship?
If you choose to apply now, it is likely that the new rules will be applied to your application as processing times are usually at least several months (and in many parts of Germany they are much longer).

I have already applied for German citizenship. Which version of the law will be used?
If you receive German citizenship after the new law comes into force, the new rules will apply to your application, regardless of the date of when you applied. Until the new law comes into force, the old rules continue to apply.

I am already at the end of the application process for German citizenship. I have received a Zusicherung and been told I now need to renounce my British citizenship before I can become a German citizen. What should I do?
You may wish to contact the local office who gave you the Zusicherung and ask if you can wait for the new law to come into force so that you can keep your British citizenship.

Will my future children be able to have both citizenships?
If you were born in the UK then your children will usually automatically be British at birth, even if they are born outside of the UK. If you were born outside of the UK, then the situation may be different. You can find out more information on the Citizens Advice website.

Under the new law here in Germany, if neither parent is German but they have been living in Germany legally for five years, a child will normally automatically acquire German citizenship at birth.

The so-called “Optionspflicht” (where some dual national children had to decide whether to keep their German citizenship or their other one at the age of 21) is being abolished entirely.

What about existing children?
You can include your underage children on your application for naturalisation.

I’ve already renounced my British citizenship, can I get it back?
It is possible to resume British nationality if you have previously renounced it. Unfortunately it is a costly process. More information can be found here:

Do you have further questions or concerns?
Consider joining the British in Germany Facebook Group to connect directly and share experiences with others applying for German citizenship or those already going through the process.


New Report: Identity, Belonging and Representation Post-Brexit

Who are the British in Europe post-Brexit and how do they see themselves?

The report “Identity, Belonging, and Representation Post-Brexit among British citizens among British Citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland” by Tanja Bueltmann draws on a detailed survey of British citizens living in Europe to review the impact of Brexit on British citizens’ sense of identity and belonging.

Through qualitative research, the author explores how Brexit has affected how individuals understand and identify with their nationality, as well as their perceptions of representation in the UK and Europe.

Main findings and key themes:

  • Survey respondents constitute a relatively highly mobile group, with around a third having previous migration experience.
  • A plurality of respondents moved to the EU/EEA/Switzerland for work and/or personal reasons, such as moving with a partner/family.
  • Only 17.7% of survey respondents moved to the EU/EEA/Switzerland to retire, providing further evidence that the common characterisation of British citizens in the EU as a group primarily comprised of ‘expat retirees’ is misleading at best.
  • 76.6% of respondents plan to live in the EU/EEA/Switzerland permanently.
  • 65.7% of respondents agree that Brexit has increased the likelihood of them staying in the EU/EEA or Switzerland.

The study also highlights the complexities of national identity and how this has been challenged and reshaped by Brexit.

Download now: Identity, Belonging and Representation Post-Brexit

For more facts and figures related to British in Germany see here.


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 join here.

Dual Citizenship: German government planning new law

A draft law aimed at making it easier to acquire German citizenship for people who have lived in Germany for 5 years or more is currently being prepared by the German federal government.

The proposed law, if enacted may permit applicants to retain their original citizenship, while getting German citizenship in addition.  It is also being proposed to allow people to gain German citizenship after just three years living in Germany if they are especially well integrated and speak good German.

Currently, the process of obtaining citizenship in Germany often requires individuals to reside in the country for up to eight years and for non-EU citizens to surrender their original citizenship.  Over 70,000 Brits in Germany now have dual British-German citizenship, as they applied for German citizenship before the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020, allowing them to keep their British citizenship.  That is now no longer possible.

The proposed changes to the law have been welcomed by British in Germany because they offer an opportunity for those who were not able to benefit from gaining EU/German citizenship before the Brexit transition period, to potentially still do so, creating less of a division in rights amongst British citizens living in Germany.

The new law, if passed, would bring numerous benefits for British citizens if they acquired dual citizenship  including the right to vote in all elections and the right to free movement to live and work in other EU member states, something that British citizens have lost as a result of Brexit. At the same time, it would allow British citizens to preserve their rights in the UK, allowing them for example to work in the UK or if they needed to return to care for older relatives, which is quite often the case.

The German coalition government has expressed its intention to enact the law by the summer of 2023. British in Germany will be following developments closely and keeping our members updated.

To find out more about current citizenship regulations see here.

Some recent press coverage of the changes:

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 join here.

Driving in Germany

Holders of a British driving licence can drive in Germany if they are visiting temporarily (e.g. on holiday).

If you are resident in Germany and intend to continue driving here, then you need to exchange your UK driving licence for a German one.

UK driving licence holders living in Germany can drive on their valid UK licence for 6 months after moving to Germany. After this time, your UK licence is not valid for driving in Germany.

You can exchange your UK licence for a German one at any time after moving to Germany. The Fahrerlaubnisbehörde” (driver licencing authority) in your local Stadt or Kreis are responsible for exchanging licences.

You do not need to take a theory or practical driving test to exchange your licence. You may need to undergo an eye test or present a medical certificate, depending on your driving licence category.

You cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of exchanging your licence.

What do you need to do to exchange your licence?

  1. To apply, contact the “Fahrerlaubnisbehörde” (driver licencing authority) in your local Stadt or Kreis.
  2. You will be charged a fee.
  3. You may need to provide a notarised translation of your UK licence.

What if you return to live in the UK later?
The UK government Living in Germany information confirms that if you return to the UK in future, you can exchange your German driving licence for a UK licence without taking another test: Driving in Germany

Useful resources:
In 2022, the UK was added to the fact sheet  for holders of foreign driving licences from states outside the European Union and the European Economic Area: Driving-licence-provisions-fact-sheet

Information from the UK government about living in Germany and driving licences is here: Driving in Germany

Additional links:
A good and authoritative general source regarding driving licences in Germany is the English-language web page of the German transport ministry: Validity of foreign driving licences in Germany 

If you hold a licence from another EU country, then this should continue to be valid without needing to be exchanged for a German licence. Further information on driving licences in the EU is here: EU-driving-licence-recognition-validity

There is also a German fact sheet for holders of licences from EU and EEA states: Fact-sheet-EU-EEA-driving-licences

Voting in the UK – your input

Are you concerned about your voting rights in the UK?  Living in Germany?  Or anywhere else outside the UK?

Around 3.4 million British citizens living overseas are disenfranchised. More than 60% of British citizens living in the EU had no vote in the UK EU referendum that led to the removal of our EU citizenship rights and changed our lives forever.

The Elections Act 2022 restores lifelong voting rights for UK citizens living overseas. BUT the Act still needs to be implemented. Until so-called ‘secondary legislation’ goes live in the UK, the Act is more theory than practice.

Help British in Europe campaign to make sure that  secondary legislation is in place before the next national election, and that the processes to register and vote will work for all of us, you included.

You will find more information about what British in Europe is doing on the link above.  The statistics from the survey will help to explain our situation and views to the UK government and institutions.

Whatever you think, don’t miss this chance. And pass the word on to friends and relatives worldwide.  This is not just about Europe, but also about British citizens living in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

Image by on Freepik

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 join here.

Visa requirements for arrivals post-Brexit (after Dec 2020)

Are you travelling to Germany as a tourist, on business, for studies, to work, or maybe to join family members who live there?

There are lots of different reasons British citizens want to travel to, or move to Germany and the German government has provided a lot of helpful information,  to help you to understand which visa you need based on your individual situation.

All British citizens are allowed to travel to Germany and the whole Schengen area without a visa for 90 days in any 180 day period. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

For those that want to stay longer in Germany, or find out options on future longer stays or living in Germany, below is a list of useful links to pages that we have checked, that should help you with most of what you are looking for.

If you were living in Germany at the end of transition on 31st December 2020, and you are covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, you do not need a visa.

UK performing artists no longer have free movement rights to travel and work across the EU. Those wanting to work or tour in Germany should inform themselves of the specific requirements and responsibilities, links listed below.

The Vander Elst Visa is also worth considering for third country nationals who are employees of EU companies and wish to to work on temporary assignments, links listed below.

Visa Navigator
Which visa do I need for Germany?

Visa Navigator – Visa Categories

Do I need a visa?
This article tells you whether you need a visa for Germany.

Visa information – Visa Services at the German Missions in the UK

German missions in the United Kingdom

FAQ and other important information

UK performing artists

Vander Elst Visa
Germany has a specific Visa for this, which you apply for in your host EU country.—grenzueberschreitende-dienstleistungserbringung—data.pdf