Category Archives: British in Germany

Latest: Residency in Germany after transition

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 (Aufenthaltstitel-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

Time period
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. 
Documents needed
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.

What do I end up with?

The residence document which you should receive (Aufenthaltstitel-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.

Cost?
The standard cost for issuing an Aufenthaltstitel 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 of the residency permits 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)
English: https://www.bmi.bund.de/…/right-of-residence-for-uk…
German: https://www.bmi.bund.de/…/aufenthaltsrecht-britischer…

FAQs relating to the German national law which may be a useful reference when talking to your local Ausländerbehörde.
English: https://www.bmi.bund.de/…/brexit/faqs-brexit.html…
German: https://www.bmi.bund.de/…/verfa…/brexit/faqs-brexit.html

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.
Website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-germany
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/1766520453638506/posts/2569823969974813/?d=n

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.

Main image by tumisu  at pixabay

UK in Germany Post-Transition Status

Update on British in Germany’s behind the scenes work regarding the future status of UK citizens in Germany

 

 Despite both the impact of Covid-19 and the lack of progress on a future trade deal between the EU and the UK, the British in Germany e.V. advocacy team has continued high level discussions and negotiations with German authorities at both national and regional levels about the future status of UK citizens in Germany. This has included face-to-face meetings with representatives of Berlin, NRW and Bavaria.  For the the last three years we have continued to push hard for a declaratory or registration system rather than a constitutive or application system, and had intensified our lobbying on this once it was clear that the UK would leave the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement.

 On 24th March 2020, the Bundesministerium des Inneren (BMI – equivalent of the UK Home office) published a Gesetzentwurf (draft law) describing how Germany proposes to enact the Withdrawal Agreement rights of UK citizens after the end of the Transition period.

British in Germany e.V. were invited to give formal input on the initial draft. Our “Stellungnahme” (position paper) was prepared by the legal professionals in our Verein and submitted to the BMI. It is now published here along with a revised draft (Kabinettfassung). Although this is not a final version of the law and may be further modified during the review stages, we want to give you some insight into the current thinking of the German government and our view of the present position.

 The Gesetzentwurf is basically about providing relevant documentation to confirm our rights to remain in Germany and to continue living here – as we have done up till now.  The Gesetzentwurf uses the term “Alt-Briten” to describe us, as opposed to “Neu-Briten” which refers to UK citizens who arrive in Germany after the end of the Transition period.  Some form of document will be needed to show that we are “Alt-Briten” with rights covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. 

 The proposed law suggests that Germany should adopt, as standard, an approach known as “declaratory”. If passed into law, this would mean that the rights of all those registered and living in Germany at the end of the Transition period would be considered confirmed. The process would then require visiting the local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office) to register and be issued with an individual document (Aufenthaltsdokument) to confirm these rights. Those who already have a Daueraufenthaltsbescheinigung-EU (Certificate of the right of permanent residence for EU citizens) would be able to swap this for the new document.

This appears to be very good news and is something that British in Germany e.V. has worked tirelessly to advocate – to have a declaratory or registration system and not a constitutive or application system which would require some form of application to secure our individual rights.  It is especially good news because the UK and a number of other EU countries have opted for a constitutive or application system, requiring citizens to apply for their status under the Withdrawal Agreement before the authorities will grant their individual rights.

This is particularly positive since indications were that Germany intended to take that more complicated ‘constitutive’ option, which would require a lot more bureaucratic work and risk some “Alt-Briten” falling through the cracks. We firmly believe that from the perspective of UK citizens in Germany, the declaratory or registration approach is by far the best option. Thanks to input from our members, we’ve had lots of case studies to back up our points in face-to-face discussions with the German authorities and as a basis for extensive written input. We have also been able to argue, with strong evidence, that this approach is the best option for the German authorities. It has been clear that our inputs and views were valued and taken seriously. Based on the meetings we’ve had with several of the Länder where large numbers of British citizens live, and exchanges with contacts in the Bundestag, we believe that our analysis and input really did make a difference.

 Who is covered by the Withdrawal Agreement?

If you are a UK citizen and resident in Germany on the final date of the Transition period (currently 31st December 2020), the Withdrawal Agreement accords you rights. Your partner and dependents may also be accorded rights as a result of yours. For more information on the Withdrawal Agreement and what rights it covers (https://britishineurope.org/)

 More information on Germany’s Gesetzentwurf

If you are interested to look at the actual text of the Gesetzentwurf, you can find it here. Health warning: it is written in quite ‘technical’ German legal form and covers not only the position of UK citizens but also some other changes which Germany wishes to include in its law on EU citizens’ rights.

British in Germany e.V. 

April 2020  (updated June 2020)

 

Driving in Germany after Brexit Transition

Are you still driving on a UK driving licence? If you live in Germany and intend to drive here after the end of Transition, then you need to exchange your UK driving licence for a German one as soon as possible.

The UK government website below confirms that you may continue to drive on your UK driving licence until the end of Transition. But after Transition the rules for third country nationals will apply. Transition is expected to end on 31st December, 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/driving-in-the-eu-from-1-january-2021-uk-licence-holders-living-in-the-eu

What do you need to do to exchange your licence?

– Get your application in as soon as possible and in any case before the end of Transition.

– To apply, contact the “Führerscheinstelle” at your local Kreisverwaltung.

– Read the current fact sheets (in English) from the German Federal Ministry of Transport on driving licences (see links below – they contain a lot of extra detail).

What if you return to live in the UK later?

The UK government website guidance on Living in Germany states that if you return to the UK in future, you can exchange your German driving licence for a UK licence without taking another test .

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-germany

New test requirement?

Nationals of some third countries are required to take a test (theory and/or practical) before they can exchange their driving licences for a German one. The British Embassy stated before the Withdrawal Agreement was finalised that, in a no-deal scenario, British citizens would have to take the German driving test if exchanging their licence after the Brexit date. If and when we have further information, we will update here.

Links:

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

https://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/EN/Articles/StV/Roadtraffic/validity-foreign-driving-licences-in-germany.html

This has links to:

“Fact sheet for holders of foreign driving licences from EU and EEA states on driving licence provisions in the Federal Republic of Germany”

www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/EN/Documents/LA/fact-sheet-foreign-driving-licences.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

and:

“Fact sheet for holders of foreign driving licences from states outside the European Union and the European Economic Area on driving licence provisions in the Federal Republic of Germany”

www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/EN/Documents/LA/driving-licence-provisions-fact-sheet.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

Further information on driving licences in the EU:

https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/driving-licence/driving-licence-recognition-validity/index_en.htm

 

Want to stay up-to-date on Brexit information relevant to you? Sign up for our Updates and get email when new information is posted to the website.

Applying for German citizenship

Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, 31600 British nationals have been granted German citizenship. The vast majority have retained their British citizenship which is possible with all applications accepted up to 31st December 2020.

German law states that dual citizenship should usually be avoided. However, there are some exceptions, for example, for EU citizens. Whilst Britain was an EU member, British citizens who gained German citizenship could do so without losing their British citizenship as they benefited from § 12 Abs. 2 of the Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG).

There’s good news if you already have dual British and German citizenship. You can keep both and after the Transition Period has ended you will not have to choose one over the other.

So is it too late now to get dual citizenship? What happens to people who apply for German citizenship during the Transition Period or applied before Transition started and are still waiting for a decision?

As the UK is now no longer an EU Member State, § 12 Abs. 2. StAG no longer applies. But there is still a chance to gain German citizenship without losing your British citizenship.

The Bundestag passed a law (Brexit-Übergangsgesetz) in 2019, which gives you the right to keep your UK citizenship if you apply and meet the other usual conditions for German citizenship before the end of the Transition Period. So if you think you meet the conditions and would like to get dual citizenship, now is the time to act.

Below is an unofficial English translation of the relevant part of this Brexit-Übergangsgesetz, § 3 Abs. 1 BrexitÜG. Please note, however, that the original German version is the only legally valid text.

§3 Naturalisation of British and German citizens 

(1) For British citizens who make an application for naturalisation in Germany before the end of the Transition Period, the otherwise applicable requirement under the Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (Citizenship Law) to renounce British citizenship will be waived, provided that all other naturalisation requirements were met by the end of the Transition Period and continue to be met at the time of naturalisation.

How long does the Transition Period last?

The Transition Period began on 1 February 2020 and is due to end on 31 December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement contains a provision (Article 132) which potentially allows a single extension of 1 or 2 years if that is requested by July 2020 but the British government’s position currently is that it will not request such an extension.

How can I find out about the requirements to apply for German citizenship?

Generally, you will need to have been resident in Germany for 6 or 8 years depending on your language ability. If you are married to or in a registered partnership with a German citizen then a shorter residence period is required.

You can find more information about the residence and other requirements and how to go about applying for citizenship on these BAMF website pages: https://www.bamf.de/EN/Themen/Integration/ZugewanderteTeilnehmende/Einbuergerung/einbuergerung.html

https://www.integrationsbeauftragte.de/ib-de/service/fragen-und-antworten/612466-612466?index=612512

If I want to apply for German citizenship, what do I do?

If you want to apply for German citizenship (Einbürgerung), you first need to contact your local Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) to get advice. You can find your office via the following link:  https://www.bamf.de/DE/Service/ServiceCenter/BeratungVorOrt/Auslaenderbehoerden/auslaenderbehoerden-node.html

The process is basically the same in all parts of Germany, but the time it takes to get appointments and to process your application may differ.

What is the advantage of getting German citizenship? Surely my rights to stay in Germany are covered under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides a lot of rights for those of us who will be living in the European Union at the end of the Transition Period. These include the right to continue to reside in our host country, i.e. Germany, but that right is limited to our host country. So you will lose the entitlement to move to or work in France, Spain, Sweden or elsewhere in the EU. As a German citizen, you would maintain that right. Another example is the right to vote in national German elections or to stand for political office at local and national level. This is only available if you have German citizenship.

A decision about whether you would like to apply for German citizenship is personal. It will depend on a lot of factors which are different for each individual.

I have citizenship of Ireland (or another EU country) and UK citizenship. Why would I need German citizenship?

Irish or other EU citizenship will mean you keep your EU rights including onward freedom of movement after the end of the Transition Period.

You will not have the right as an EU citizen to vote or stand in national elections in Germany. But you can vote and stand in some local elections.

Is there a difference in the law on citizenship depending on the German Federal State where I live?

No. Citizenship law is a German Federal competency and the law is the same everywhere in Germany. However, each State (Land) is responsible for the process for naturalisation. This means there may be differences in the details of the application form or the name of the office you need to go to.

There is also a degree of discretion as to whether, for example, a recent Germany-issued certificate of language competency is required or whether qualifications gained at school in the UK are considered acceptable.

I already have dual German-British citizenship. Will I have to give up my British citizenship at the end of the Transition Period?

No. If you already obtained German citizenship whilst the UK was a member of the European Union or during the Transition Period, then the rules that were valid at the time you obtained your citizenship apply. You do not need to renounce your UK citizenship.

I will not qualify for German citizenship before the end of the Transition Period. Can I apply later?

Yes. However, you will no longer have the right to keep your UK citizenship so will probably have to relinquish it in order to take German.

It seems that there are different requirements for citizenship in different EU countries. How can that be?

The requirements for obtaining citizenship of an EU country are decided by each individual country rather than at EU level. So there are differences between the countries.

I have citizenship of another non-EU country (e.g. Canada, India, Australia) as well as of the UK. Will I be able to keep both if I apply for German citizenship?

German law states that dual citizenship should be avoided, but allows some limited exceptions, for example, for EU citizens. Usually Germany requires citizens of other countries to give up that citizenship when obtaining German. However, sometimes exceptions are made to this rule.  It is best to check for your specific case with the local Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde).

2019 UK in DE naturalisation numbers released

The German Statistics Authority (Statistisches Bundesamt) released the 2019 citizenship figures on 3rd June 2019.   

You can read the press release below in German and English.   The headline figures are that the largest number of British citizens were naturalised in 2019 (14600), which was more than double that of 2018 (6600).   Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, 31600 British nationals have been granted German citizenship.  

Press Release in German

Press Release in English:  (shortened version)

These numbers are unprecedented in British German history.  They present a large shift in social and citizen identity for around a third of British citizens living in Germany, the large majority of whom will have chosen to keep their British citizenship.  At present application for dual citizenship is possible until December 31 2020 after which you may be asked to give up your British non-EU citizenship in order to be granted German citizenship.   **Note, application and not decision on application.

Prior to the Brexit referendum, the annual naturalisation numbers were a few hundred each year:  2015 –  600, 2014 – 500, 2013 – 500,  2012 – 300, 2011 – 300

Below some British media reports on the numbers:

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/03/britons-applying-for-german-citizenship-up-2300-last-year

The Times: (firewalled)

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/auf-wiedersehn-brexit-surge-in-britons-moving-to-germany-55jxt2kzs

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/thousands-settle-brexit-doubts-by-becoming-german-swkxlb5f7

Covid 19 Virus update

The British in Germany e.V. National Steering Committee have consulted on Friday 13th March on the implications of the Covid 19 virus spread in Germany.  They agreed to put out the following statement.   Any questions or queries from members –  don’t hesitate to contact info(at)britishingermany.org

“In line with the recommendations being made by experts, the German Minister for Health and the Chancellor, British in Germany  e.V. is suspending all physical meetings including Stammtische and is asking its members not to participate in any further face to face BiG events until further notice.”

Embassy Facebook Live Q+A

The British Embassy will be holding another Facebook Live event, giving you a chance to get a direct answer to any Brexit-related questions you might have. The event will take place on the British Embassy Facebook page next Monday (21st of October) at 18:00-19:30. Any questions submitted during this time will receive an answer by Friday 25th at the latest.

BiG will also be monitoring the event. If you are unable to join at that time or would like to ask a question anonymously, you can submit it to us at info@britishingermany.org, and we will post it for you.

People’s Vote March, Saturday 19th Oct

British in Europe will be marching in London this Saturday alongside the3million at the People’s Vote March. If you’re going to be in London this weekend, please come along to the march and support us! Feel free to join our WhatsApp group created for the event to stay updated.

We will be meeting by the M&S outside of Green Park Tube Station at 12 noon (take the Piccadilly exit– the M&S is located on the corner of Stratton Street and Piccadilly).

BiG will also be taking part in solidarity events in Berlin and Hannover on Saturday. Have a look here to learn more about the march happening in Berlin, and here for the rally in Hannover, which is in partnership with Volt Germany.

Wherever you are, if you want to support us on Saturday via social media, remember to use the hashtags #CitizensRights and #the5Million alongside #LetUsBeHeard.

(image: https://www.peoples-vote.uk)

Upcoming information events

The British Embassy is organising information events in order to ensure that Brits living in Germany are kept in the loop with information regarding the UK’s preparations to leave the EU. These events will be an opportunity for UK nationals to pose questions regarding individual situations and a British in Germany e.V. representative has also been invited to speak at each event.

DATES AND LOCATIONS

  • Berlin, 30 September – register here
  • Düsseldorf, 1 October – register here
  • Frankfurt, 10 October – register here
  • Hamburg, 15 October – register here
  • Munich, 24 October – register here

Please bear in mind that interested participants will have to register in advance. Details to follow.

Also see the Embassy’s webpage.