Category Archives: British in Germany

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 citizenship 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.”

Latest on 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)

 

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.

#stopthecoup Berlin Saturday 7 September 2019

Sara Gordon reports on pro democracy demonstration which took place in Berlin last weekend.

On Saturday representatives from British in Germany joined grassroots organisation Stop the Coup Berlin, also supported by Pulse of Europe, to defend British democracy in the face of the current government’s attempts to push through a no-deal Brexit.

Many Brits living in Germany along with the vast majority of EU citizens living in the UK were not able to vote in the referendum, a decision that will detrimentally affect our lives and futures. The threat of a no-deal Brexit has caused fear, anger and distress, compounded by stressful cliff-edge situations and the threats to democracy in the UK government under Boris Johnson. Many in British in Germany face uncertainty until they are granted some form of residence permit, and many will not be able to apply until Brexit happens. Brits elsewhere in the EU may be even less fortunate. A disorderly Brexit could make them illegal overnight – resulting in traumatic chaos.

Aware of the potential consequences of a disorderly Brexit both here in Germany and back in the UK, Brits and EU citizens banded together to form Stop the Coup Berlin. Following on from smaller protest on 31 August, a core of seven people went to work, lost lots of sleep, and organised a larger demonstration on Pariser Platz directly in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Saturday 7th September. 

Speakers included MEP Sergey Lagodlnsky (Bündnis 90/die Grünen), who spoke about the importance of democracy; Berlin-based British political commentator Jon Worth, who shared his analysis of recent events; Daniel Tetlow of British in Germany, who spoke about citizen rights, academic Prof. Dr. Mareike Kleine (LSE / Freie Universität), who spoke about what happens when democracies go bad; newlywed British-born German Rachel Marriott who detailed some of the experiences of Brits living in Germany in the face of Brexit. This was followed by a brief open-mic session, followed by Scottish stand-up comedian Neil Numb who added his lighter-hearted take on all this. 

The whole event was accompanied by local musicians Espin and the Noisses, the highlight of which was perhaps the duet set of EU-inspired songs by Noisses’ singer Lucy Stubley and Espin, including “Nothing compares to EU”.

The protest was a resounding success! At peak, we counted 150 attendees and collected over 220 signatures for the letter to Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood, which was delivered to a representative on the day by coordinator Rose Newell and logistics man Maurice Bennet. 

Depending on events over the next few weeks, British in Germany will continue to coordinate with Stop the Coup Berlin and Pulse of Europe on the best way to proceed. It is highly likely that another demonstration will be organised in the near future. 

We would like to thank all that attended the demonstration and encourage more to come out next time! 

Until then, we encourage you to visit the British in Germany Berlin Stammtisch this Saturday (14th September) at BrewDog Mitte (1 to 5 pm) and keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter and email. 

Images (c) Sara Gordon, 2019

The event was cover by several media outlets. Here are a few links to their reporting:

Reuters: Demonstrators protest against no-deal Brexit in central Berlin

Berlin Spectator: British Expatriates Stage Protest Against Brexit

For more about Stop the Coup see their website.

Sara was also interviewed by the Guardian recently in their article ‘A beautiful dream destroyed’: Britons in EU on no-deal Brexit