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Berlin Stammtisch on 26th September

The second Berlin meeting since the Lockdown will be taking place

in
Brewdog, Ackerstraße 29, 10115 Berlin, Germany 

on 26th September from 2pm onward

Due to the forecast of rain, this event will now take place indoors at Beerdog and not in Volkspark Friedrichshein. 

We will be taking the names of attendees that will be kept for a month and request all attendees to inform us if they have been exposed to corona or tested positive – this is to keep everyone safe and to to keep track of people in the event that we are asked by the Gesundheitsamt.

You can register your interest for the event on our Facebook page.

Image: Von Inductor – de.wikipedia.org: 15:07, 29. Mai 2007 .. Inductor .. 2288×1712 (1.109.484 Bytes) ({{Information |Beschreibung = Märchenbrunnen im Fiedrichshain, Berlin |Quelle = eigens Foto |Urheber = ~~~~ |Datum = Mai 2007 |Genehmigung = |Andere Versionen = |Anmerkungen = }}), Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2181267

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

Updated Guides from British in Europe

British in Europe have been working hard and are producing a new set up updated guides providing information for UK Citizens resident in the EU.

This page will be updated as new guides appear but currently there are guides on:

Residency Rights and Procedures

Residency Rights and Procedures

Family Members, Future Family Reunification and Dual Nationals

Family Members, Future Family Reunification and Dual Nationals

Click on the icon to be redirected to the British in Europe website.

If you find these guides useful, donate to British in Europe. They need your financial support to continue with their advocacy and information provision.

Latest on UK in Germany Post-Transition Status

Update on British in Germany’s behind the scenes work regarding the future status of UK citizens in Germany

 

 Despite both the impact of Covid-19 and the lack of progress on a future trade deal between the EU and the UK, the British in Germany e.V. advocacy team has continued high level discussions and negotiations with German authorities at both national and regional levels about the future status of UK citizens in Germany. This has included face-to-face meetings with representatives of Berlin, NRW and Bavaria.  For the the last three years we have continued to push hard for a declaratory or registration system rather than a constitutive or application system, and had intensified our lobbying on this once it was clear that the UK would leave the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement.

 On 24th March 2020, the Bundesministerium des Inneren (BMI – equivalent of the UK Home office) published a Gesetzentwurf (draft law) describing how Germany proposes to enact the Withdrawal Agreement rights of UK citizens after the end of the Transition period.

British in Germany e.V. were invited to give formal input on the initial draft. Our “Stellungnahme” (position paper) was prepared by the legal professionals in our Verein and submitted to the BMI. It is now published here along with a revised draft (Kabinettfassung). Although this is not a final version of the law and may be further modified during the review stages, we want to give you some insight into the current thinking of the German government and our view of the present position.

 The Gesetzentwurf is basically about providing relevant documentation to confirm our rights to remain in Germany and to continue living here – as we have done up till now.  The Gesetzentwurf uses the term “Alt-Briten” to describe us, as opposed to “Neu-Briten” which refers to UK citizens who arrive in Germany after the end of the Transition period.  Some form of document will be needed to show that we are “Alt-Briten” with rights covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. 

 The proposed law suggests that Germany should adopt, as standard, an approach known as “declaratory”. If passed into law, this would mean that the rights of all those registered and living in Germany at the end of the Transition period would be considered confirmed. The process would then require visiting the local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office) to register and be issued with an individual document (Aufenthaltsdokument) to confirm these rights. Those who already have a Daueraufenthaltsbescheinigung-EU (Certificate of the right of permanent residence for EU citizens) would be able to swap this for the new document.

This appears to be very good news and is something that British in Germany e.V. has worked tirelessly to advocate – to have a declaratory or registration system and not a constitutive or application system which would require some form of application to secure our individual rights.  It is especially good news because the UK and a number of other EU countries have opted for a constitutive or application system, requiring citizens to apply for their status under the Withdrawal Agreement before the authorities will grant their individual rights.

This is particularly positive since indications were that Germany intended to take that more complicated ‘constitutive’ option, which would require a lot more bureaucratic work and risk some “Alt-Briten” falling through the cracks. We firmly believe that from the perspective of UK citizens in Germany, the declaratory or registration approach is by far the best option. Thanks to input from our members, we’ve had lots of case studies to back up our points in face-to-face discussions with the German authorities and as a basis for extensive written input. We have also been able to argue, with strong evidence, that this approach is the best option for the German authorities. It has been clear that our inputs and views were valued and taken seriously. Based on the meetings we’ve had with several of the Länder where large numbers of British citizens live, and exchanges with contacts in the Bundestag, we believe that our analysis and input really did make a difference.

 Who is covered by the Withdrawal Agreement?

If you are a UK citizen and resident in Germany on the final date of the Transition period (currently 31st December 2020), the Withdrawal Agreement accords you rights. Your partner and dependents may also be accorded rights as a result of yours. For more information on the Withdrawal Agreement and what rights it covers (https://britishineurope.org/)

 More information on Germany’s Gesetzentwurf

If you are interested to look at the actual text of the Gesetzentwurf, you can find it here. Health warning: it is written in quite ‘technical’ German legal form and covers not only the position of UK citizens but also some other changes which Germany wishes to include in its law on EU citizens’ rights.

British in Germany e.V. 

April 2020  (updated June 2020)

 

Driving in Germany after Brexit Transition

Are you still driving on a UK driving licence? If you live in Germany and intend to drive here after the end of Transition, then you need to exchange your UK driving licence for a German one as soon as possible.

The UK government website below confirms that you may continue to drive on your UK driving licence until the end of Transition. But after Transition the rules for third country nationals will apply. Transition is expected to end on 31st December, 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/driving-in-the-eu-from-1-january-2021-uk-licence-holders-living-in-the-eu

What do you need to do to exchange your licence?

– Get your application in as soon as possible and in any case before the end of Transition.

– To apply, contact the “Führerscheinstelle” at your local Kreisverwaltung.

– Read the current fact sheets (in English) from the German Federal Ministry of Transport on driving licences (see links below – they contain a lot of extra detail).

What if you return to live in the UK later?

The UK government website guidance on Living in Germany states that if you return to the UK in future, you can exchange your German driving licence for a UK licence without taking another test .

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-germany

New test requirement?

Nationals of some third countries are required to take a test (theory and/or practical) before they can exchange their driving licences for a German one. The British Embassy stated before the Withdrawal Agreement was finalised that, in a no-deal scenario, British citizens would have to take the German driving test if exchanging their licence after the Brexit date. If and when we have further information, we will update here.

Links:

A good and authoritative source regarding driving licences in Germany is the English-language web page of the German transport ministry:

https://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/EN/Articles/StV/Roadtraffic/validity-foreign-driving-licences-in-germany.html

This has links to:

“Fact sheet for holders of foreign driving licences from EU and EEA states on driving licence provisions in the Federal Republic of Germany”

www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/EN/Documents/LA/fact-sheet-foreign-driving-licences.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

and:

“Fact sheet for holders of foreign driving licences from states outside the European Union and the European Economic Area on driving licence provisions in the Federal Republic of Germany”

www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/EN/Documents/LA/driving-licence-provisions-fact-sheet.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

Further information on driving licences in the EU:

https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/driving-licence/driving-licence-recognition-validity/index_en.htm

 

Want to stay up-to-date on Brexit information relevant to you? Sign up for our Updates and get email when new information is posted to the website.

Applying for German citizenship

Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, 31600 British nationals have been granted German citizenship. The vast majority have retained their British citizenship which is possible with all applications accepted up to 31st December 2020.

German law states that dual citizenship should usually be avoided. However, there are some exceptions, for example, for EU citizens. Whilst Britain was an EU member, British citizens who gained German citizenship could do so without losing their British citizenship as they benefited from § 12 Abs. 2 of the Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG).

There’s good news if you already have dual British and German citizenship. You can keep both and after the Transition Period has ended you will not have to choose one over the other.

So is it too late now to get dual citizenship? What happens to people who apply for German citizenship during the Transition Period or applied before Transition started and are still waiting for a decision?

As the UK is now no longer an EU Member State, § 12 Abs. 2. StAG no longer applies. But there is still a chance to gain German citizenship without losing your British citizenship.

The Bundestag passed a law (Brexit-Übergangsgesetz) in 2019, which gives you the right to keep your UK citizenship if you apply and meet the other usual conditions for German citizenship before the end of the Transition Period. So if you think you meet the conditions and would like to get dual citizenship, now is the time to act.

Below is an unofficial English translation of the relevant part of this Brexit-Übergangsgesetz, § 3 Abs. 1 BrexitÜG. Please note, however, that the original German version is the only legally valid text.

§3 Naturalisation of British and German citizens 

(1) For British citizens who make an application for naturalisation in Germany before the end of the Transition Period, the otherwise applicable requirement under the Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (Citizenship Law) to renounce British citizenship will be waived, provided that all other naturalisation requirements were met by the end of the Transition Period and continue to be met at the time of naturalisation.

How long does the Transition Period last?

The Transition Period began on 1 February 2020 and is due to end on 31 December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement contains a provision (Article 132) which potentially allows a single extension of 1 or 2 years if that is requested by July 2020 but the British government’s position currently is that it will not request such an extension.

How can I find out about the requirements to apply for German citizenship?

Generally, you will need to have been resident in Germany for 6 or 8 years depending on your language ability. If you are married to or in a registered partnership with a German citizen then a shorter residence period is required.

You can find more information about the residence and other requirements and how to go about applying for citizenship on these BAMF website pages: https://www.bamf.de/EN/Themen/Integration/ZugewanderteTeilnehmende/Einbuergerung/einbuergerung.html

https://www.integrationsbeauftragte.de/ib-de/service/fragen-und-antworten/612466-612466?index=612512

If I want to apply for German citizenship, what do I do?

If you want to apply for German citizenship (Einbürgerung), you first need to contact your local Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) to get advice. You can find your office via the following link:  https://www.bamf.de/DE/Service/ServiceCenter/BeratungVorOrt/Auslaenderbehoerden/auslaenderbehoerden-node.html

The process is basically the same in all parts of Germany, but the time it takes to get appointments and to process your application may differ.

What is the advantage of getting German citizenship? Surely my rights to stay in Germany are covered under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides a lot of rights for those of us who will be living in the European Union at the end of the Transition Period. These include the right to continue to reside in our host country, i.e. Germany, but that right is limited to our host country. So you will lose the entitlement to move to or work in France, Spain, Sweden or elsewhere in the EU. As a German citizen, you would maintain that right. Another example is the right to vote in national German elections or to stand for political office at local and national level. This is only available if you have German citizenship.

A decision about whether you would like to apply for German citizenship is personal. It will depend on a lot of factors which are different for each individual.

I have citizenship of Ireland (or another EU country) and UK citizenship. Why would I need German citizenship?

Irish or other EU citizenship will mean you keep your EU rights including onward freedom of movement after the end of the Transition Period.

You will not have the right as an EU citizen to vote or stand in national elections in Germany. But you can vote and stand in some local elections.

Is there a difference in the law on citizenship depending on the German Federal State where I live?

No. Citizenship law is a German Federal competency and the law is the same everywhere in Germany. However, each State (Land) is responsible for the process for naturalisation. This means there may be differences in the details of the application form or the name of the office you need to go to.

There is also a degree of discretion as to whether, for example, a recent Germany-issued certificate of language competency is required or whether qualifications gained at school in the UK are considered acceptable.

I already have dual German-British citizenship. Will I have to give up my British citizenship at the end of the Transition Period?

No. If you already obtained German citizenship whilst the UK was a member of the European Union or during the Transition Period, then the rules that were valid at the time you obtained your citizenship apply. You do not need to renounce your UK citizenship.

I will not qualify for German citizenship before the end of the Transition Period. Can I apply later?

Yes. However, you will no longer have the right to keep your UK citizenship so will probably have to relinquish it in order to take German.

It seems that there are different requirements for citizenship in different EU countries. How can that be?

The requirements for obtaining citizenship of an EU country are decided by each individual country rather than at EU level. So there are differences between the countries.

I have citizenship of another non-EU country (e.g. Canada, India, Australia) as well as of the UK. Will I be able to keep both if I apply for German citizenship?

German law states that dual citizenship should be avoided, but allows some limited exceptions, for example, for EU citizens. Usually Germany requires citizens of other countries to give up that citizenship when obtaining German. However, sometimes exceptions are made to this rule.  It is best to check for your specific case with the local Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde).

2019 UK in DE naturalisation numbers released

The German Statistics Authority (Statistisches Bundesamt) released the 2019 citizenship figures on 3rd June 2019.   

You can read the press release below in German and English.   The headline figures are that the largest number of British citizens were naturalised in 2019 (14600), which was more than double that of 2018 (6600).   Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, 31600 British nationals have been granted German citizenship.  

Press Release in German

Press Release in English:  (shortened version)

These numbers are unprecedented in British German history.  They present a large shift in social and citizen identity for around a third of British citizens living in Germany, the large majority of whom will have chosen to keep their British citizenship.  At present application for dual citizenship is possible until December 31 2020 after which you may be asked to give up your British non-EU citizenship in order to be granted German citizenship.   **Note, application and not decision on application.

Prior to the Brexit referendum, the annual naturalisation numbers were a few hundred each year:  2015 –  600, 2014 – 500, 2013 – 500,  2012 – 300, 2011 – 300

Below some British media reports on the numbers:

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/03/britons-applying-for-german-citizenship-up-2300-last-year

The Times: (firewalled)

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/auf-wiedersehn-brexit-surge-in-britons-moving-to-germany-55jxt2kzs

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/thousands-settle-brexit-doubts-by-becoming-german-swkxlb5f7

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.

British Embassy Facebook Q&A Sessions

The British Embassy runs InfoAbends and Facebook Q&A Sessions for those with questions regarding Brexit.

The next scheduled Facebook Q&A Sessions  are as follows:

  • Facebook Q&A. 23 March 2020, 7– 8.30 pm
  • Facebook Q&A. 25 May 2020, 7 – 8.30 pm
  • Facebook Q&A. 30 June 2020, 7.30 – 9 am

You can add your questions via the Embassy Facebook page once the Q&A Event is open.

More information regarding Embassy Events and the results of previous Facebook Q&A session can be found on the UK Government Website.