Category Archives: Your Rights

everything on citizens’ rights, etc.

Residency in Germany after transition

For more detailed practical information about notifying your residency and requesting a residence document, please see these posts:
Residency – latest
Notification to Ausländerbehörde

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. 

You can check which office is responsible for you here: https://www.bamf.de/DE/Service/ServiceCenter/BeratungVorOrt/Auslaenderbehoerden/auslaenderbehoerden-node.html

Time period
The time period set by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement for notifying of residence in Germany is 6 months from end of transition i.e. up to 30th June, 2021. 
Documents needed
The Ausländerbehörde will want to see your passport as proof of identity and UK citizenship, plus evidence of your local registration (Anmeldung). You may need to get an up-to-date Meldebescheinigung from your local town hall or other registration office. To visit the Ausländerbehörde you will probably need to make an appointment, especially in these Covid times when phone or e-mail appointments will be more popular.

You may also be asked for other documents that will help to show your residence in Germany under EU freedom of movement rules, such as tax, salary or bank statements, or evidence of student status.

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. 

German and UK government information

Press release from the German Ministry of the Interior (BMI)
English: https://www.bmi.bund.de/…/right-of-residence-for-uk…
German: https://www.bmi.bund.de/…/aufenthaltsrecht-britischer…

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

The UK Government and the British Embassy in Germany publish information for UK citizens in Germany. You can request regular update emails via the website.
Website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-germany
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/1766520453638506/posts/2569823969974813/?d=n

Information on Withdrawal Agreement rights

Summaries and detailed guides from British in Europe https://www.britishineurope.org/page/1016540-explanatory-guides

British in Germany e.V.  is run by volunteers all giving their time and their expertise for free.  We therefore value your membership for 15 Euros a year, which goes towards expenses incurred in running the organisation.  You can apply for membership here.

Main image by Pete Linforth at pixabay

 

S1 Healthcare holders need new EHIC cards

UK Nationals who are resident in Germany and have their healthcare costs covered by the “S1” agreement (so people in receipt of a UK pension amongst others) now need to apply for a new UK issued EHIC card.

The process should be simple and only requires you to register at the new NHS European Health Insurance Card website with the details used on your S1 application – your name and Date of Birth should suffice.

Some people have reported that they have not been matched on the site despite holding an S1 form. This may be because your Krankenkasse has not registered you with the NHS after accepting your application and you will need to contact your Krankenkasse to resolve this.

Other groups with S1-like cover will be able to apply later.

Image: By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – L’Ambassade du Royaume-Uni (Berlin), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6791741

Q&A: What does Brexit mean for my rights as a Brit living in Germany?

The Local in Germany, an english language news website, has interviewed Sir Sebastian Wood, British Ambassador to Germany and Axel Dittmann, head of the Brexit Taskforce for the Germany Federal Government, about the impact of Brexit for UK Nationals living in the country.

The article can be accessed free for a limited amount of time on their website.

Areas covered include:

  • Rights for Brits in Germany
  • Residence permits
  • Healthcare
  • Professional and academic qualifications
  • General

There is also a useful set of links to sources of further information at the end of the piece.

A future article will cover Brit who plan to move to Germany after the end of the Transition Period.

Images (c) Sara Gordon, 2019

Applying for German citizenship

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.

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).

Withdrawal Agreement and Transition for UK citizens in Germany

The transition timetable

With a large Tory majority, the UK Parliament passed the October 2019 version of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) in January 2020 and it was also ratified by the European Parliament. The UK then formally left the EU on 31st January 2020. From 1st February 2020, the WA came into force. The Agreement provides for a transition period to run from 1st February 2020 until 31st December 2020. It also contains an article (Article 132) which would allow an extension of 1 or 2 years – provided that a request were made by end of June 2020.

Citizens’ rights and the WA

The citizens’ rights section of the WA remained almost entirely unchanged from the earlier version negotiated by Theresa May, and it is this part of the Agreement that covers the future legal rights of British people who are legally resident in an EU27 country on the last day of the transition period (however long that turns out to be). The Agreement is EU wide and, although each EU27 country will institute its own procedures for things like residence cards etc, each individual EU country must respect the WA’s set out provisions.

Under the WA, most of our rights remain wholly unchanged until the end of the transition period, so at least until 31st December, 2020. This includes freedom of movement meaning it is still possible for people to move freely from the UK to the EU, or within the EU during that period. We did however lose the right to stand and vote in local and European elections from Brexit day, i.e. as of 1st February 2020.

**What’s important to note is that now that the Withdrawal Agreement is in force, we will be covered by it for our lifetimes whatever happens with future negotiations.  So please don’t think that the rights the WA provides for us are temporary – they are not; if you are legally resident in an EU country at the end of the transition period these rights will cover you for your lifetime.

Citizens’ rights in the WA

Crucially, the WA ensures not only the right to live and work in the country of residence at the end of the transition period, but also covers areas such as S1 healthcare rights, together with aggregation and uprating of pensions.   The WA agreement also says we will be able to leave our host country for up to 5 years without losing our right to return.

The WA does not cover everything, however.

For excellent readable summaries of what is and is not included in the WA, please look at the guides produced by British in Europe  https://britishineurope.org/

Dual citizenship in Germany

For those of us in Germany who meet the conditions to apply for German citizenship during the transition period i.e. up to 31st December 2020, there is an additional benefit. The German government passed a law which entitles us, if we meet the conditions and apply for German citizenship during that time, to keep our UK citizenship as well.  This is normally only an option for EU citizens. For more information: Applying for German citizenship

And finally, for the avoidance of any doubt or confusion here are 3 important points:

  1. The media doesn’t always help by using interchangeable terms for things that are quite separate. For example, reference is often made to a ‘deal’ to refer to the trade deal that still has to be struck during the transition period, and the terms ‘no deal’ and ‘crashing out’ to a situation where no trade deal can be agreed. Confusingly, these are the very same terms that the media previously used to denote the UK leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement, but the meaning is very different. Now that the Withdrawal Agreement has become law our future rights contained within it are guaranteed whatever happens with the future trade deal. So a failure to conclude a trade deal might be a ‘no deal’ situation for the UK, but not for British citizens living in the EU. This is important to be clear about and is still sometimes the subject of much confusion and concern.
  2. In the Bill that the UK Parliament passed in January 2020, the Conservative government inserted a clause barring any extension to the Withdrawal Agreement’s transition period beyond 31st December 2020. The WA contains an article (Article 132) allowing an extension of 1 or 2 years to the transition period if it’s requested by July 2020. Clause 132 remains in the WA even though Johnson’s Bill passed with the proposed amendment barring an extension, which means that the UK government could have asked to extend the transition period at any point up to 30th June 2020 by passing a new bit of legislation. However, the British government did not do that and did not request an  extension so as things currently stand, transition will end on 31st DEcember, 2020.
  3. Since the WA is now law, the ‘no deal’ legislation already passed in each of the EU27 countries is now defunct, and we are now waiting for each country to publish details of how it intends to implement the WA for its British residents. For the latest status in Germany, please see here: Latest on UK in Germany Post-Transition Status

Further information sources:

Become a member of British in Germany e.V. here for only 15 Euros a year to support BiG’s advocacy and campaigning work and  to get the latest up to date information on how Brexit will impact the lives of UK citizens living in Germany.

Overseas voters: register now!

Regarding the General Election on December 12th:

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 deadline for applications is in just over a week, on November 26th.

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.