The Bundesagentur für Arbeit has also published an official ‘Weisung’ (directive) which includes information about rights to benefits for UK citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/datei/weisung-202012007_ba146766.pdf “Britische Staatsangehörige, ihre Familiengehörigen und nahestehende Personen, deren aufenthaltsrechtliche Stellung sich aus dem Austrittsabkommen sowie dem FreizügG/EU ableitet, haben grundsätzlich einen gleichen aufenthaltsrechtlichen Status wie EU-Bürger, so dass ein Zugang zu den Leistungen nach dem SGB II entsprechend zu klären ist (vgl. §16 Absatz 5 FreizügG/EU).”
Is my right to benefits ‘automatic’?
No. There are conditions for receiving each benefit which also apply to German and EU citizens. So an application for benefit will depend on whether your specific situation meets the conditions for that benefit.
What if I am applying for work?
UK citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement keep their rights to work in Germany. For more information and links look at this previous post about Working in Germany
British in Germany e.V. is solely run by volunteers giving their time and support to the organisation for free. We’d welcome your support and/or membership for a mere 15 Euros a year. You can find more information here.
The Bundesministerium des Inneren Frequently Asked Questions includes the following: ‘From 1 January 2021, persons who were entitled to live or work in Germany (or another EU member state) until that date and who also exercised that right will essentially have the same rights as they had before withdrawal. ‘ BMI FAQs
The Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales published “Fragen und Antworten” on Brexit on 17 November, 2020. The introduction includes the following: ‘Für EU-Bürgerinnen und EU-Bürger, britische Staatsangehörige sowie ihre Familienangehörigen, die zum Ende der Übergangsphase dauerhaft im Vereinigten Königreich bzw. in der EU leben und arbeiten, sieht das Austrittsabkommen einen vollumfänglichen Bestandsschutz ihrer Rechte vor.’ BMAS faq-brexit
Were you already working for your employer before 1 Jan 2021? In that case, your employer does not need to ask you for proof of your right to continue working. The same is normally true, provided that you are covered by the WA, even if you start working for an employer after 1 Jan 2021. Employers are advised to require evidence of status by the end of 2021.
New version 2 published 2 June, 2021
This version includes important changes.
“Trust” period for employment of UK citizens extended from 30th June to end of 2021
Statement that it may take the authorities until the end of the year to complete processing for residence documents
Information on professional activities “not classed as work” for business travellers and persons working in the sports or arts sectors
Key information in the flyer
The flyer, addressed to employers of UK citizens, includes very specific information. So you can point your employer directly to this as an authoritative source. ‘Wenn Ihre Arbeitnehmerin oder Ihr Arbeitnehmer unter das Austrittsabkommen fällt, ist er oder sie auch ohne entsprechendes Dokument berechtigt, bei Ihnen zu arbeiten. Wenn Sie wissen, dass Ihre Arbeitnehmerin oder Ihr Arbeitnehmer berechtigt ist, müssen Sie nichts weiter unternehmen. Dies gilt vor allem dann, wenn
britische Staatsangehörige oder
Familienangehörige britischer Staatsangehöriger mit Aufenthaltskarte oder Daueraufenthaltskarte
bereits vor dem 31. Dezember 2020 bei Ihnen legal gearbeitet haben. Sie können dann, ohne sich weitere Dokumente vorlegen zu lassen, diese Arbeitnehmerinnen und Arbeitnehmer auch danach einfach weiter beschäftigen. Sie müssen keine Dokumente kopieren oder scannen oder zu Ihren Lohnunterlagen nehmen.
Gleiches gilt grundsätzlich auch, wenn eine Arbeitnehmerin oder ein Arbeitnehmer unter das Austrittabkommen fällt und erst ab dem 1. Januar 2021 eine Beschäftigung aufgenommen hat oder noch aufnimmt. Auch dann ist keine weitere Vorlage von Unterlagen erforderlich. Auch dann müssen Sie keine Dokumente kopieren oder scannen oder zu Ihren Lohnunterlagen nehmen.
Bis zum Ende des Jahres 2021 können Sie der Aussage britischer Staatsangehöriger, ein Aufenthaltsrecht nach dem Austrittsabkommen zu haben, vertrauen. Davon können Sie zumindest dann ausgehen, wenn die Berechtigten am 31. Dezember 2020 in Deutschland gewohnt haben.’
The Bundesministerium des Inneren Frequently Asked Questions includes a question and answer in English and German: ‘I am an employer and employ UK nationals or their family members. What do I need to bear in mind in future?’ / ‘Ich bin Arbeitgeberin oder Arbeitgeber und beschäftige Britinnen oder Briten oder deren Familienangehörige. Was muss ich künftig beachten?’ BMI FAQs in English BMI FAQs in German
In case your employer or prospective employer is confused or uncertain about your right to work, the links and documents above should provide clear information and reassurance.
Evidence of Withdrawal Agreement rights
Just in case you do need to provide proof that you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement before you get your Aufenthaltsdokument-GB, you may be able to use documents that you already have. For example, a Meldebescheinigung, proof that you were previously working, a rental agreement, bank statements etc. But you can also request a temporary Fiktionsbescheinigung from your local Ausländerbehörde.
Not yet notified your residence and rights? Don’t delay! For more information: Residency – latest
Then you will not be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and will need to request permission to work as a third country national. For German government information, see make-it-in-germany.com
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.
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 guideto 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 Englishand 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
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.
The deadline for applications for German citizenship under the special law passed by the German government (Brexit Übergangsgesetz) was the end of the transition period (31 December, 2020). This law allows those whose application was made by 31 December, 2020 to keep UK citizenship as well as taking German.
We are aware that people still have applications in progress. Some may have encountered difficulties, particularly given restrictions due to Corona.
British in Germany e.V. is running a survey to collect a snapshot of applications in progress.
If you have an application for German citizenship under the Übergangsgesetz in progress, you can help us to get a more informed and complete picture.
This law allows UK citizens who, by the end of the transition period, fulfilled the requirements for German citizenship and whose application was also submitted before the end of the transition period to keep their UK citizenship as well as taking German.
Successful German citizenship applications made from 1 January 2021 onwards will generally require giving up UK citizenship.
Here is the key text from the Brexit Übergangsgesetz: “Bei britischen Staatsangehörigen, die vor Ablauf des Übergangszeitraums einen Antrag auf Einbürgerung in Deutschland gestellt haben, wird von einem sonst nach dem Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz erforderlichen Ausscheiden aus der britischen Staatsangehörigkeit abgesehen, sofern alle weiteren Einbürgerungsvoraussetzungen vor Ablauf des Übergangszeitraums erfüllt waren und bei Einbürgerung weiterhin erfüllt sind.” §3 (1) BrexitÜG.
From 1 January 2021, new rules will apply to UK citizens travelling to Germany.
(*If you are looking instead for information about how to get your new residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB)? Find out more here.)
22 December, 2020
Updated travel information from British in Europe is here.
23 December, 2020
Link to German Embassy in London travel information here.
If you are a dual German, EU/EEA or Swiss citizen, you still enjoy freedom of movement as before. Make sure to use that passport when crossing an EU or Schengen border.
If you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, you have the right to enter and exit Germany (as your host country) without having a visa or being subject to other formalities. This is set down in Article 14 of the WA. However, you won’t be able to use e-gates or lanes reserved for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens. Once issued, you should keep your new residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB) with you whenever you travel and show this along with your passport at the border.
Note: UK citizens will also be subject to Schengen rules on length of visa-free stay. Schengen rules allow up to 90 days stay within a 180 day period without a visa. This includes UK citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement for travel outside their host Member State.
What do you do if you are planning to travel outside Germany and have not yet got your new Aufenthaltsdokument-GB to provide evidence of your status?
Information from the Bundespolizei
British in Germany has asked the Bundespolizei this very question. They are responsible for all German border controls. We received their response on 10th December and it makes clear that border officials will be aware of the rights of resident UK citizens. Here is what they told us about being able to prove that you belong to the group covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.
“Die Beantragung einer Fiktionsbescheinigung ist bereits zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt möglich, um britischen Staatsangehörigen, welche ab dem 1. Januar 2021 aus dem Ausland nach Deutschland reisen wollen, das Aufenthaltsrecht bescheinigen zu können.
Allerdings sind auch nach hier vorliegenden Erkenntnissen die Ausländerbehörden derzeit aufgrund der Corona-Pandemie nur eingeschränkt erreichbar, so dass die notwendigen Bescheinigungen nicht immer zeitgerecht erteilt werden können.
Die Grenzbehörden sind deshalb angewiesen worden, zum Nachweis des Aufenthaltsrechts ab dem 1. Januar 2021 vorerst auch anderweitige Bescheinigungen anzuerkennen. Das können bspw. Anmeldebescheinigungen, Mietverträge oder auch Arbeitsverträge sein.
Insofern wird empfohlen, dass während einer Reise mindestens eine der o.g. Bescheinigungen mitgeführt wird, um damit bei der Einreise nachweisen zu können, dass der britische Staatsangehörige oder Familienangehörige Aufenthaltsrechte in Deutschland nach dem Austrittsabkommen zwischen der EU und Großbritannien in Anspruch nehmen kann. Die Einreise ist dann möglich.”
If you are not sure that you understand the content of this German version, please put it into an online translator. We are not providing an unofficial translation so that our published version remains the exact wording actually used by the Bundespolizei.
How to show your residency when you return to Germany?
Drawing on the suggestions from the Bundespolizei, here are some actions you can take.
You may be able to request a Fiktionsbescheinigung. This is a temporary document from your local Ausländerbehörde which shows that they have registered your request for an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB.
Some Ausländerbehörde offices are issuing a Fiktionsbescheinigung by default to those who attend for interview or complete an online form, but this is only happening at the moment in some offices. You can ask your local office and explain your travel plans.
If you are not able to get a Fiktionsbescheinigung, your local Ausländerbehörde, is supposed to provide you with simple written confirmation (by letter or e-mail) that you have notified them of your residence in Germany.
Everyone living in Germany has to do their Anmeldung (registration) when they move into a new home. When you did this, you will have been given an Anmeldebestätigung. The Meldebescheinigung is a certificate confirming that you are still registered as living at a specific address on the date of issue.
This is a standard document that can be requested by any resident at any time. It is usually easy to obtain from a local registration office, either in person, online, or by post. There is typically a fee but this is usually low.
3. Other evidence of living in Germany before 31.12.2020
If you can’t get either the Fiktionsbescheinigung of the Meldebescheinigung, then as the Bundespolizei have advised us above, it’s important to take other documents to show evidence of your residence and that you were already resident before the end of the transition period (31st December, 2020). Examples of documents include:
an immatriculation certificate from a German university
evidence of self-employment in Germany.
4. Evidence of outward travel
If you are travelling out from Germany, then we suggest you also keep your tickets, boarding cards or similar and carry these with you when you return.
Corona and travel
If you are planning travel at this time, you will also need to take into account Corona regulations including any quarantine requirements. Some press discussion recently has highlighted the likelihood that non-essential travel to Germany by UK citizens would cease to be possible after 31 December. Our understanding is that, under such circumstances, UK residents of Germany will still be able to return, but this underlines the importance of being able to prove that you are a resident.
UPDATE 22 December, 2020
British in Europe posted information on their website about travel at this time. This followed the introduction of additional restrictions due to the new corona strain identified in the UK. British in Europe will try to maintain the information there.
If you are asked by anyone else about your status, for example, employers, financial institutions, landlords etc, the same documentation may be helpful. Provided you are covered by Withdrawal Agreement rights, you have the right to live, work and study in Germany. Therefore this is not something that you should expect to be challenged on. But worth knowing, just in case.
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.
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.
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.
For more on the definitions of “legally resident” and “exercising free movement rights” see Explainer 1 on the British in Europe website here, and information in the FAQs from the BMI here.
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.
Cost? 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.
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.
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 herealong 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 thelocal 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.
Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, 31600 British nationals have been granted German citizenship up to 2019. 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.
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).
The German Statistics Authority (Statistisches Bundesamt) released the 2019 citizenship figures on 3rd June 2020.
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.
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