Category Archives: Your Rights

everything on citizens’ rights, etc.

Overseas voters: register now!

The British in Europe Coalition has just re-released its Register to Vote website, which contains all the information British citizens living abroad need on overseas voting. All Brits living out of the UK for under 15 years, who have been registered in the last 15 years, are entitled to vote! We are recommending a proxy vote as the most reliable way to get your voice heard.

The possibility of a snap general election is looking very likely. Don’t miss out: register to vote now!

British Embassy hold their first Facebook Live Event

Report by Elise Shepley (BIG Intern)

The British Embassy in Berlin led an hour-long Facebook live Q&A on August 6th 2019, in an attempt to directly address the questions and concerns of British citizens living in Germany in the run up to Brexit.

Over 200 questions were answered, and the Embassy has subsequently produced a summary of the event, which documents all of the questions and answers posed during the Q&A session. All questions posed within the hour-long time frame received a response from the Embassy over the following 24 hours.

The Embassy’s document has been organised into eight categories determined by the questions posed:

  • Residency (103 questions)
  • Work, qualifications, pensions, and benefits (36 questions)
  • Travel (15 questions)
  • Healthcare (24 questions)
  • Passport and nationality (18 questions)
  • Miscellaneous (16 questions)
  • Returning to the UK (5 questions)
  • Education (1 question)

Residency was therefore by far the most recurrent theme, with particular concerns about registration for residency permits being raised. The Embassy reiterates that anyone previously exercising free movement rights in Germany may be granted a residency permit, with permanent permits only being granted automatically to those who have been in Germany five years or longer.  The Embassy also confirms that the residency permit is not tied to any German language requirements, nor to employment status.

Other recurring themes included questions about the future status of health insurance policies for UK citizens in Germany (S1), queries about dual citizenship and the position of family members of different nationalities, and about potential issues in travelling into Germany and returning to the UK.

The FB live event created on the whole very positive feedback from BiG members and the Embassy committed a significant amount of manpower and resources to the event.    We hope this will set the precedent for further FB live events in Germany and across Europe as British citizens living in the EU face increasing uncertainty and anxiety about their lives and livelihoods living in Europe.

You can also access the full Embassy document with all of the questions and responses.

Your rights – links

British Government Sources with information on BREXIT

UK nationals living in the EU – essential information

Living in Germany guidance

Exiting the European Union

Foreigners Authorities in Germany (for Residence Title and possible pre-registration in case of No-Deal)

UK nationals travelling to the EU: essential information

Passport rules for travel to Europe after Brexit (including link to Passport checking tool)

UK nationals living in the EU, EFTA and Switzerland: Healthcare

Expecting visitors from the UK

Sign-up for UK Government emails with updates on Germany

Sign-up for UK Government emails with updates on BREXIT (with full list of topics incl. updates)

The British Embassy in Germany Facebook Page

Contacting the British Embassy in Germany

German Government Sources

FAQs on right of residence in the context of Brexit (in English)

German Government booklet on how to apply for Germany citizenship (in German)

German Government information regarding pensions in Germany (in English)

Getting your UK qualification recognised in Germany (in English)

Health Insurance – British citizens in Germany (in English from the DVKA)

Work and social rights (in Germany)

European Commission Sources

Questions and Answers – the rights of EU and UK citizens, as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement

Factsheet: Travelling between the UK and the EU in the event of “no deal”

Factsheet: The rights of UK nationals living in the EU in the event of “no deal”

Factsheet: Consumer rights in the event of “no deal”

Consumer Protection and Passenger Rights

Questions and Answers: the consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement (no deal Brexit)

Residence rights of UK nationals in the EU Member States (compares the rights in different EU Member States)

European Commission Sources with information which applies to British citizens resident /working in another EU country (before BREXIT)

Live, work and travel in the EU

Working in another EU country

Healthcare in another EU Country

State pensions in another EU country

BREXIT in Germany: Reliable sources of information 

(more to follow)

Negotiation Related Links

Joint technical note on the comparison of EU / UK positions on citizens rights

July 2017 European Parliament Briefings Paper: EU and UK position on citizens’ rights

Registering in Berlin and elsewhere

Update 4 April, 2019

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.

Original Article:

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.

Unofficial translation of BMI FAQs on residence after Brexit

Below is our unofficial translation of the BMI’s FAQs on residency issues related to BrexitHowever since publication the BMI has also produced its own official translation which can be found on their 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.

German Federal advice on residence and Brexit

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.

Deal Scenario

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).

Citizenship applications

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.

Unanswered questions

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.

You can read the original FAQs in German.

You can also read The Guardian‘s 22 December article on residency for Brits in Berlin.

Financial issues for UK Citizens in Europe on BBC’s Moneybox

Moneybox – the BBC’s personal finance programme on Radio 4 has an episode on finance for UK Citizens living in Europe. Jane Golding was one of 3 experts on the panel to explain the issues and give their own personal perspectives. Listeners had contacted the programme before transmission to submit their questions and these covered, amongst others:

  • The impact of a No-Deal Brexit.
  • The loss of Free Movement, specifically working or offering services to a range of EU countries.
  • Recognition of Qualifications.
  • Healthcare and the transfer of UK Healthcare to another EU country.
  • Study, Erasmus and the treatment of UK Nationals resident in the EU who then wish to study in the UK.
  • Couples returning to the UK including the cost of returning and selling property abroad or even buying in the UK.
  • Aggregated Pensions across EU countries.

The programme is available via the programme’s Website.

New information on your rights now available

At the InfoAbend events many of the same questions regarding Citizenship, Permanent Residence and the impact of a No-Deal Brexit are raised.

We have therefore pulled together the information we have available and have published it on two new information pages.

You can find them under the main menu option “Your Rights” or click on the links below:

We hope you find this information of use.

Image: Ralf Roletsche CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons