The voter registration deadlines for the European Parliament elections are approaching. We are still EU citizens, so let’s make our votes count! Please check out British in Europe’s Register to Vote site for all the details: where, when, how.
If you’ve been away from the UK for less than 15 years, you can choose to vote in the UK, or in Germany. The UK voter registration deadline is Tuesday 7 May, and UK overseas voters may have to re-register this year – check with the local authority where you last voted; full details on how to vote can be found here.
If you’ve been away for over 15 years, you can only vote in Germany, where the voter registration deadline is Sunday 5 May.
If you are registered here, you should already be on the electoral register. It’s important to check with the Wahlamt (electoral office) at your local municipality (Bezirksamt or Kreisverwaltung) as we’ve had some cases of members appearing to be no longer listed, despite being registered last year.
If you are not on the electoral register, you need to opt in. The forms for this are available from the Federal Returning Officer: these must be signed and returned in person or posted to your local municipality by 5 May.
In a set of two articles the UK Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood and the head of the German government’s Brexit Task Force Axel Dittmann talk citizens’ rights, travelling after Brexit and no-deal preparations. Jane Golding, BiG and BiE were praised for their work protecting Citizens’ Rights.
Dittmann said: “I absolutely agree with Jane Golding and Maike Bohn, who represent British in Europe and the3Million in regular meetings here in the Foreign Ministry, that citizen’s rights are of the utmost importance. This topic has been and will remain our top priority.”
Sir Sebastian echoed this sentiment.
“Protecting the rights of citizens remains the UK’s top priority,” he said.
(DE + english with german subtitles) Gary Blackburn, a BiG member, was interviewed on the impact of Brexit in the SAT1 evening news for the Rheinland Pfalz/Hessen region. Click on the image below for the video, the report starts at 2:35 mins into the broadcast. 2 February, 2019.
(DE with english subtitles) Attendees to the Hamburg InfoAbend and Stammtisch were interviewed for ARD’s Tagestheme programme, 28th January 2019
(DE) Daniel Tetlow features in an article by Bernadette Mittermeier regarding the concerns of EU and UK nationals in the post-Brexit world “Wir sind alle verunsichert”, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21st January, 2019
(DE) ZDF Ländesspiegel 19th Jan with Jane Golding and Connie Simms, BiG’s 2018/9 Intern:
(DE) Ingrid Taylor was interviewed on the BR about the impact of the failed vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons, ‘Ingrid Taylor, Verein “British in Bavaria“‘, BR-Podcast, 16th January, 2019
Daniel Tetlow was interviewed on the situation for UK Nationals living in another EU Member state on Deutsche Welle, 16th January, 2019
Jane Golding was interviewed on the situation in the UK following Parliament’s rejection of the Withdrawal Bill on Deutsche Welle, 16th January, 2019
Channel 4 News included interviews with Jane Golding and other BiG activists in Berlin. We were asked about the impact on our everyday lives and what a no-deal Brexit means to us. You can watch the interviews featured above by clicking on the image or here, Channel 4 News, 18 December 2018
Jane Golding and other members of British in Germany, British in Europe as well as the 3 Million, took part in “The Last Mile” event in London. While there was little coverage in the UK, there was significant coverage in the German Language press, 6 November 2018
(DE) Daniel Tetlow (co-founder of British in Germany), ‘Was es heißt, ein Eu-Bürger zu sein,’ Internationale Politik, May-June 2018. IP has kindly allowed us to provide you access. Please click on the image below to download the PDF (in German). Copyright Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik e.V.
(DE) Anika Stiller, Run auf den Doppelpass, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23 February 2018. Article in German about the tireless work of the British in Germany group in Bavaria, and issues around securing dual nationality.
With the UK’s withdrawal from the EU now postponed until 31 October at the latest, the chances that the UK will take place in the elections for the European Parliament on Thursday 23 May in the UK and Sunday 26 May in Germany has increased.
As we will continue to be EU Citizens at this point we will continue to have the right to take part in these elections.
The deadline to register in the UK is 7th May, and in Germany 5th May, so you will need to move fast!
Together with British in Europe we have re-opened the voter website last used for the 2017 General Election. CLICK HERE, to see British in Europe’s all you need to know Voter Registration Info site.
You will have two choices:
If you have been absent from the UK for less than 15 years you can still vote in the EU elections in the UK at your last registered address.
If you have been absent for more than 15 years or if you prefer to vote in Germany you can register to vote there instead.
If you have not already registered to vote, scroll to the end of the page and find the link to register to vote either online for England, Scotland and Wales, or by post in Northern Ireland. Latest inquires from our members suggest 7th May is the deadline to register for the EU Elections.
Even if you think you are registered it would be worth checking by contacting the Electoral Registration Officer where you think you are registered. Registrations are confirmed each year by post and you may have become deregistered if you have moved addresses and not informed them.
Once registered you should consider how you wish to vote, either by post or by proxy.
If you choose a postal vote then your voting papers will be posted out to you in Germany where you can complete them before returning them. Be aware that the time available to do this limited as the voting papers can take several days to arrive and must be return promptly to be counted.
The most assured way to vote is via a proxy. This could be a friend or neighbour you are happy will vote as you direct them to, or an alternative is to contact your party of choice locally (most have websites to allow you to find a contact name) and they can be authorised to vote on your behalf. In both cases a form needs to be completed and returned to the Returning Officer so start making preparations now.
In the UK the election in on a regional list system and you will have one vote for the list of your choice.
If you are a German citizen, you should be on the electoral register here automatically.
If you are a UK / other EU citizen and not also German, you aren’t included automatically on the register for the European Parliament, you need to opt-in.
If you have opted in for a previous European Parliament election in Germany since 1999 you should still be on the register, even if you have moved home within Germany. But you might want to double check this with your local Wahlamt to confirm you are on the list (particularly given all the recent uncertainty re Brexit)
If you used to live in Germany but then moved away before moving back again, you will need to opt back in again to the European Parliament electoral register. This can be done up to 21 days before the vote, i.e, 5 May. The necessary form can be found on the website but must be handed in personally or by post to the Wahlamt – electoral office – in your local authority area (e.g. Bezirksamt or Kreisverwaltung).
It is possible to set up a postal vote, otherwise you would attend the polling station indicated on your voting card and on presenting your passport will be given a voting paper.
In Germany the election is on a nation wide list system and you will have one vote for the list of your choice.
Important news from British in Bavaria about the official letter regarding residence for BRITS IN MUNICH – if this applies to you, please read carefully. Further, please note that Brits living in Munich who haven’t yet registered with the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (that’s the Meldeamt in Munich) as a resident, need to get their skates on. And do kindly pass this info on to anyone who it might help.
So here it is:
The Foreigners´ Office (Ausländerbehörde) in Munich is today (Wednesday, 3 April) sending out letters (with English translation) to all UK nationals registered as resident in the City of Munich, setting out what´s next. So, look out for these letters in your postbox in the next day or so.
Note: All the Ausländerbehörden around the country are finding it difficult to plan at the moment, given the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit deadlines. Munich´s solution is to nominate 15 April as the start date for online booking of appointments to go along and discuss your application for a residence title. If the UK leaves on 12 April, online booking opens on 15 April (not before). If it´s still not clear by then, the start of online booking will also be delayed.
Please also take a look at the website of the Munich Ausländerbehörde.
So: patience is required, on all sides. If you haven´t heard yet from your Ausländerbehörde, this is not necessarily a cause for concern. But of course if you are not registered as a resident (angemeldet) with your local authority (Meldeamt), then you need to do this asap, to ensure you will be notified about arrangements for applying for a residence permit.
Update 1 April, 2019
The UK Government has provided a list of all the Foreigners Authorities in Germany which they know about and if they are requesting Registration as in Berlin. Please check this list for updates as we will not be able to highlight changes other than for the biggest places.
Leipzig is missing from the list but has also announced a pre-registration form in a message to British Nationals. (Please note that the submission stages of the form might not work on all browsers. Should you encounter difficulties, try using Firefox.)
Update 22 March, 2019
Following the European Council the UK’s departure from the EU has been put back until at least 12 April, 2019. The Berlin Ausländerbehörde have updated their website, but are unable to provide additional details until 29 March, 2019. However, we are concerned to learn that of approx. 18,000 UK Citizens registered in Berlin (Angemeldet) only 8,600 have so far registered themselves on the Berlin Website for a future Residence Permit. Please ensure you do as soon as possible and check with all UK acquaintances that they have too.
Whether there is a withdrawal deal or not, British citizens will require a residency title or other proof of their right of residency in Germany following Brexit.
If there is no deal, as it stands, all British citizens in Germany would have to apply for a residency title by 30 June 2019.
If there is a deal (i.e. the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU is ratified), British citizens would still be required to prove their right to residency.
Until the UK leaves the EU, British citizens continue to have the right of freedom of movement. However, some local immigration authorities are introducing a voluntary registration process so that they can contact affected citizens more easily, whatever happens.
For example, the Berlin immigration authority is already inviting UK nationals resident in Berlin to pre-register for a residency permit application. While it is technically voluntary, it is strongly recommended that you register before 29 March 2019 if you are resident in Berlin. The confirmation of registration ensures the residency rights acquired in Germany will remain valid from Brexit until a decision is taken on the subsequent application.
BiG have liaised with the Berlin immigration office and requested clarification on a number of points, including questions from BiG members. These have been addressed through an extensive FAQ page in English and German. Please also read the explanatory notes on the registration page carefully.
If you live outside Berlin please check the website of your local immigration authority for more information on the planned process where you live.
Both Berliners and those living elsewhere might also like to refer to the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s FAQs on right of residence in the context of Brexit in English and German.
It has been an exhausting few weeks and it has been very difficult to know what we should report here as it has changed from hour to hour.
Today, Wednesday 27 March, the UK Parliament will be going rogue and having taken control of the Order Paper will be debating and conducting indicative votes on a set of proposals in an attempt to unblock the Brexit logjam.
We do not know which options the Speaker will select but they are likely to range from No-Deal to Revoke Article 50 and every possible option in between.
Which brings us to the second item. The Petition to Revoke Article 50. Created by Margaret Georgiadou, 77, she can hardly have believed the attention the Petition would receive.
Although revoking Article 50 is an improbable outcome it is still important to sign it in order to put pressure on MPs to consider other relationships the UK could have with the EU in the event that the UK does leave.
At the time of writing the Petition stands at over 5,800,000. Click on the image to add your vote! Remember you can vote if you are a UK National even if you are living abroad or a foreign National living in the UK.
If you are still hungry to sign more petitions then consider the one to allow all British citizens to vote should there be a new referendum on Brexit.
Sadly the Private Member’s Bill to implement Votes for Life was “talked out” – as often occurs to bills not part of the Government programme. The petition requests that in the event of a new referendum British citizens living abroad are not excluded from voting on a matter that greatly affects their lives as happened in 2016. Again click the image to be taken to the petitions website.
The German Parliamentary Committee for the European Union has heard from Expert Witnesses about the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK. Jane Golding attended to provide evidence on the impact of Brexit on UK nationals living and working in Germany.
Although she chose to speak in English, the recording of the event contains only the German translation.
Her contributions can be seen at 32:30 (following the question from the German MP) and for a second time at 1:10:40 on the Bundestag Mediathek Website with a report (in German) of the proceeding also on the Bundestag Website.
Here you will find information on the plans of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) on the residence rights of British nationals living in Germany and their family members, as well as measures for those applying for citizenship.
What is the legal status of British nationals and their family members until 29 March 2019? What can I do now if I am affected?
Until the UK leaves the EU, British nationals and their family members retain their freedom of movement. However, the general obligation to register at your local registration office applies.
Some immigration authorities [federal Foreigners Registration Offices] are planning a voluntary registration process to reach affected citizens better and to inform them about their rights. We will keep you informed.
What happens if the UK leaves with a deal?
If the withdrawal agreement is concluded, there will be a two-year transitional period until 31 December 2020, immediately after the departure on 29 March 2019. During this period, Britain will continue to be treated as an EU Member State. EU free movement rules continue to apply during this period.
Broadly speaking, the withdrawal agreement provides affected citizens with the life-long retention of rights associated with freedom of movement. At the end of the transition period, eligible British and EU nationals and their family members are entitled to reside in the EU or in Great Britain.
If you are a British citizen (or a family member of a British citizen) who moved to Germany before 31 December 2020, you will most likely be able to refer to the withdrawal agreement. For this you will have to apply to the Foreigners Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) responsible for you, and if you have not already done so, you will have to register at your local Residents Registration Office as proof of your residence. Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration/application procedure before the departure date.
What happens if there is no deal? Will the British have to leave Germany immediately?
No, no British citizen will have to leave Germany immediately in the case of ‘no deal’. The Federal Government is planning a transitional period of initially three months, which can be extended. During this time, British citizens and their family members will be able to continue to live and work in Germany without a residence permit.
To stay longer, however, all those affected are required to apply at their local office for a residence permit before the end of the transitional period and, if they have not yet done so, to register at their local Foreigners Registration Office. During the time from the application to the decision, further stay is allowed.
Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration / application procedure before the withdrawal date.
What permanent status do British nationals and their family members have after a ‘no deal’ Brexit?
If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the legal status of the affected British citizens will change permanently. They lose their status as EU citizens (or family members of an EU citizen) and become third-country nationals.
To stay in Germany after the end of the three-month transitional period, those concerned will need a residence permit, and will have to apply for this at the local Foreigners Registration Office. During the time from the application to the decision, further stay is automatically allowed.
Information on residence permits is available at the website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, as well as at your local Foreigners Registration Office. Some immigration authorities are already planning a voluntary registration/application procedure before the withdrawal date.
Am I affected?
If you have British and another EU citizenship:
Nothing changes for you. As an EU citizen, you are still entitled to freedom of movement. You may also keep your British nationality.
If you have British and German citizenship:
As a German, you are naturally entitled to reside in Germany without a residence permit. In some circumstances, you will still derive additional rights from the Withdrawal Agreement (e.g. professional recognition, etc.).
If you are a British citizen and also a family member of an EU national:
You can probably continue to exercise free movement. Nevertheless, you should also register at your local Foreigners Registration Office, if such a procedure is provided. You may be issued a residence card for EU citizens’ family members.
If you are a British citizen and not a national of another EU member state
You will need a residence permit for your permanent stay in Germany. If you have not already done so, you should also register at your local Registration Office (Anmeldung) and Immigration Office.
Which immigration office is responsible for me?
This depends on your place of residence. You can search for your local office here.
Can German citizens travel to the UK for short stays without a visa, and can British citizens come to Germany?
Probably, yes. The EU has initiated a legal agreement on reciprocal visa-free travel. This includes stays of up to 90 days per 180 days. British citizens can travel throughout the Schengen area.
What changes for people applying to become German citizens?
If the withdrawal agreement is concluded, the Federal Government’s Brexit Transition Act contains transitional provisions for British citizens applying for German citizenship, and German citizens applying for British citizenship before the end of the transition period (until 31 December 2020). You should be allowed to retain your previous British or German nationality, even if the decision on naturalization is made after the end of the transition period, and as long as all other conditions for naturalization are met before the end of the transition.
In the event of a ‘no deal’ departure, similar arrangements will apply to those applying for citizenship before the date of departure (until 29 March 2019). For details, see the draft bill of the Law on transitional provisions in the field of work, education, health, social affairs and citizenship’ on the website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) posted an FAQ on its website just before Christmas about Germany’s plans regarding the residence rights of British citizens in Germany after Brexit. The FAQ covers both deal and no deal scenarios.
The BMI explains that, until 29 March 2019, British citizens remain EU citizens with rights of free movement, but of course are still subject to the obligation to register with the relevant administration where they reside.
After 29 March 2019, the position will change.
In the case of a deal, there will be a transition phase until December 2020 during which the rights of British citizens in Germany will stay the same as they are now. Any British citizen who arrives in Germany before that date will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and will be able to apply for a status under that agreement in Germany, which will secure (most of) their rights in Germany going forward. To this end, some federal immigration authorities (Ausländerbehörde) are already planning a voluntary registration system before the UK’s withdrawal.
No Deal Scenario
The BMI also gives more details of what is planned in the case of a no deal. In this case, Germany is planning a three-month transition phase from 29 March 2019, which could be extended, during which time British citizens and their family members can, without a residence permit, live and work in Germany as before. However, after this, British citizens will need such a permit, since after Brexit, they will no longer be EU citizens but third country nationals. They are advised to apply for this before the end of the three-month transition phase (the BMI then links to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) information on residence in Germany), and their rights to live and work in Germany remain the same until a decision is taken on their application. As noted above, some Ausländerbehörde are already planning a voluntary registration system to this end.
How different categories of British citizens will be affected
The BMI then explains how different British citizens will be affected by the two scenarios:
British citizens who also have another EU citizenship will not need a residence permit.
British citizens who have German citizenship will obviously not need a residence permit but may obtain additional rights under certain conditions under the Withdrawal Agreement.
British citizens who are family members of an EU citizen of another EU country are expected to keep their free movement rights but are asked to register with the relevant Ausländerbehörde where that (voluntary) registration is already envisaged (see above).
British citizens without another EU citizenship will need a residence permit and should make sure that they are registered properly where they live and are asked to register with the relevant Ausländerbehörde where that (voluntary) registration is already envisaged (see above).
The BMI also sets out the position on citizenship applications and dual citizenship in both scenarios. In the case of a deal, those applying before 31 December 2020 will be able to keep both citizenships (German and British) even if the decision is after the transition phase, and if all the conditions for citizenship were filled before that date. Similarly, in the case of a no deal, those who applied by 29 March 2019 will have the right to keep both citizenships.
The FAQ sets out some first useful information but by no means answers all the detailed questions you may have about your future status. These issues include: how each Land proposes to implement these measures; in the case of no deal, the position of people who already have a permanent residence document but do not have German citizenship, or those with less than five years’ residence in Germany; and details of which status to apply for in the case of no deal, as well as how to apply for the status in the case of a deal, and so on. The British in Germany team will be seeking clarification on these and other questions raised by these proposals and have requested meetings with both the Auswärtiges Amt, along with representatives from other ministries such as the BMI, and with the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, early in the New Year. We have also collated the types of questions raised by our members on social media so that these can also help inform our discussions with the German authorities in the New Year, and will be putting out a call for case studies shortly as well. In short, we are following up to confirm how the government’s proposals will apply to all British citizens, as well as their family members, currently resident in Germany, whatever their circumstances.
More information on this website as soon as we have it.