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British in Germany e.V. on Clubhouse

A few weeks ago, some of the social media team at British in Germany e.V. tested a new app called Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an app where people can meet and discuss different topics in a drop-in audio conference setting.

Why did we choose to do this? In our social-media groups we found that many people have been missing the local Stammtische and contact to other Brits. There have also been many questions coming up again and again in the Facebook groups. We want to provide a place where we can discuss different themes and topics about being British in Germany.

Discussions thus far have covered:

  1. Introduction session / How does Clubhouse work? / Welcome
  2. Residency and Citizenship
  3. British and German foods, which is the “wurst”?
  4. Family differences
  5. Current situation in Germany vs. the UK (residency, travel, lockdown, etc)

Hosts on British in Germany Clubhouse are Ellie, Will and Sara who are based in Hamburg and Berlin.

Note that this is not an advice session, but simply an opportunity to get together informally and share experiences and ideas.  Please bring your ideas and consider stepping on stage to share your thoughts in our discussion.

Join us in our weekly meetings on Wednesday at 18:30 German time on Clubhouse. More information under the events post in British in Germany e.V. Facebook.

If you are already on the platform, please join our club and you’ll get notifications for our upcoming events.

If you have an iPhone / iPad but do not yet have a Clubhouse App account, please contact us under the events post in British in Germany e.V. Facebook for an invitation.

Please note that at this time Clubhouse is only officially offered on iPhones and iPads. We are hopeful that this will change soon. As this is an informal get-together there will be no minutes officially taken or published.

We look forward to having many of you join and to hearing your thoughts on the week’s topic.

By Sara Gordon.

For more information about residency in Germany under the Withdrawal Agreement click here.

For more information about Withdrawal Agreement rights in general see the British in Europe publications here.

Want to let us know what is happening? To complete a survey click here.

 

British in Germany e.V.  is solely run by volunteers giving their time and support to the organisation for free.   We’d welcome your support and/or membership for a mere 15 Euros a year. You can find more information here. 

Image from Pixabay.

Tell us what’s happening

A lot of UK citizens in Germany are now in contact with their local Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) about their residence rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. Some have had interviews for their new residence document and some have even received the new document.

Some of you have also applied for German citizenship and we are aware that people still have applications in progress. Some may have encountered difficulties, particularly given restrictions due to Corona.

If any of this applies to you, we would love to hear from you!

Your input will help us understand what is happening all across Germany. In turn, this will help us to inform other UK citizens as well as to give feedback to the relevant German authorities. That way we hope to improve the process for UK citizens as well as for the German authorities themselves.

It should take less than 5 minutes to complete each survey.

The survey data is being collected anonymously and will be stored in compliance with EU data regulations and British in Europe’s data privacy and protection policy.

Survey on Contact with Foreigners’ Office

If you have contacted or intend to contact your local Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) even if you have not yet had an interview about your new residence document.

Survey on Interview for residence document


If you have already had an interview with the Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde).

 

 

Survey on British in Germany citizenship applications survey

Residence document

If you have received your new German residence document – watch this space! Survey coming soon…..

Information on residency rights

For more information about your residence rights in Germany and what you may need to do see Residency in Germany after transition.

For information generally on the Withdrawal Agreement, see the  British in Europe explainers.

 

British in Germany e.V.  is solely run by volunteers giving their time and support to the organisation for free.   We’d welcome your support and/or membership for a mere 15 Euros a year. You can find more information here. 

Main image Darkmoonart_de at pixabay

Other images at pixabay
wichan yodsawai
Andreas Lischka

Rights to benefits

If you are a UK citizen living in Germany and covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, you have rights to benefits in Germany in the same way as  EU and German citizens.

If you are applying for benefits or if there is any confusion about your rights, information from the relevant German ministries may help.

Information on benefits related to children and parenthood
Information on benefits related to unemployment

The Bundesagentur für Arbeit has also published an official ‘Weisung’ (directive) which includes information about rights to benefits for UK citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/datei/weisung-202012007_ba146766.pdf
“Britische Staatsangehörige, ihre Familiengehörigen und nahestehende Personen, deren aufenthaltsrechtliche Stellung sich aus dem Austrittsabkommen sowie dem FreizügG/EU ableitet, haben grundsätzlich einen gleichen aufenthaltsrechtlichen Status wie EU-Bürger, so dass ein Zugang zu den Leistungen nach dem SGB II entsprechend zu klären ist (vgl. §16 Absatz 5 FreizügG/EU).”

Is my right to benefits ‘automatic’?

No. There are conditions for receiving each benefit which also apply to German and EU citizens. So an application for benefit will depend on whether your specific situation meets the conditions for that benefit.

What if I am applying for work?

UK citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement keep their rights to work in Germany. For more information and links look at this previous post about Working in Germany

 

British in Germany e.V.  is solely run by volunteers giving their time and support to the organisation for free.   We’d welcome your support and/or membership for a mere 15 Euros a year. You can find more information here. 

Main image Steve Buissinne at pixabay

Am I still allowed to work in Germany?

If you are a UK citizen living in Germany and covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, you have the right to work in Germany.

This is one of the key rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. Unfortunately it seems that some UK citizens have had that right challenged, so here is some information that may help.

Information on working rights

The Bundesagentur für Arbeit provides information on the right to work for UK citizens in Germany. Separate information is given for both those who covered by the WA (here called “Old Britons” or “Bestandsbriten”) and those who are not.
www.arbeitsagentur.de/en/brexit/british-nationals-in-germany
www.arbeitsagentur.de/brexit/briten-in-deutschland

The Bundesministerium des Inneren Frequently Asked Questions includes the following:
‘From 1 January 2021, persons who were entitled to live or work in Germany (or another EU member state) until that date and who also exercised that right will essentially have the same rights as they had before withdrawal. ‘ BMI FAQs

The Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales published “Fragen und Antworten” on Brexit on 17 November, 2020. The introduction includes the following:
‘Für EU-Bürgerinnen und EU-Bürger, britische Staatsangehörige sowie ihre Familienangehörigen, die zum Ende der Übergangsphase dauerhaft im Vereinigten Königreich bzw. in der EU leben und arbeiten, sieht das Austrittsabkommen einen vollumfänglichen Bestandsschutz ihrer Rechte vor.’ 
BMAS faq-brexit

Information for employers

There is a flyer published jointly by the BMI and BMAS and addressed specifically to employers: brexit-informationen-arbeitgeber

Were you already working for your employer before 1 Jan 2021? In that case, your employer does not need to ask you for proof of your right to continue working.  The same is normally true, provided that you are covered by the WA, even if you start working for an employer after 1 Jan 2021.

The flyer, addressed to employers of UK citizens, includes specific  information on this subject.  So you can point your employer directly to this as an authoratitive source.
Wenn Ihre Arbeitnehmerin oder Ihr Arbeitnehmer unter das Austrittsabkommen fällt, ist er oder sie auch ohne entsprechendes Dokument berechtigt, bei Ihnen zu arbeiten. Wenn Sie wissen, dass Ihre Arbeitnehmerin oder Ihr Arbeitnehmer berechtigt ist, müssen Sie nichts
weiter unternehmen.
Dies gilt vor allem dann, wenn

  • britische Staatsangehörige oder
  • Familienangehörige britischer Staatsangehöriger mit Aufenthaltskarte oder Daueraufenthaltskarte

bereits vor dem 31. Dezember 2020 bei Ihnen legal gearbeitet haben. Sie können dann, ohne sich weitere Dokumente vorlegen zu lassen, diese Arbeitnehmerinnen und Arbeitnehmer auch danach einfach weiter beschäftigen. Sie müssen keine Dokumente kopieren oder scannen oder zu Ihren Lohnunterlagen nehmen. 

Gleiches gilt grundsätzlich auch, wenn eine Arbeitnehmerin oder ein Arbeitnehmer unter das Austrittabkommen fällt und erst ab dem 1. Januar 2021 eine Beschäftigung aufgenommen hat oder noch aufnimmt. Auch dann ist keine weitere Vorlage von Unterlagen erforderlich. Auch dann müssen Sie keine Dokumente kopieren oder scannen oder zu Ihren Lohnunterlagen nehmen.

Bis zum 30. Juni 2021 können Sie der Aussage britischer Staatsangehöriger, ein Aufenthaltsrecht nach dem Austrittsabkommen zu haben, vertrauen. Dies ist zumindest immer dann der Fall, wenn die Betroffenen am 31. Dezember 2020 in Deutschland gewohnt haben.’

There is also an official ‘Weisung’ (directive) from the Bundesagentur here: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/datei/weisung-202012007_ba146766.pdf

The Bundesministerium des Inneren Frequently Asked Questions includes a question and answer in English and German: ‘I am an employer and employ UK nationals or their family members. What do I need to bear in mind in future?’ / ‘Ich bin Arbeitgeberin oder Arbeitgeber und beschäftige Britinnen oder Briten oder deren Familienangehörige. Was muss ich künftig beachten?’
BMI FAQs in English
BMI FAQs in German

In case your employer or prospective employer is confused or uncertain about your right to work, the links and documents above should provide clear information and reassurance.

Evidence of Withdrawal Agreement rights

Just in case you do need to provide proof that you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement before you get your Aufenthaltsdokument-GB, as well as some of the links and information above, you may be able to use documents that you already have.  For example, a Meldebescheinigung, proof that you were previously working, a rental agreement, bank statements etc. But you can also request a temporary Fiktionsbescheinigung from your local Ausländerbehörde.  You can find more information about how to contact your Ausländerbehörde here  Residency in Germany after transition.

British in Germany e.V.  is solely run by volunteers giving their time and support to the organisation for free.   We’d welcome your support and/or membership for a mere 15 Euros a year. You can find more information here. 

Updated to correct broken links on 24/02/21.

Main image Pexels pixabay

German-English Useful Vocabulary List

Official German can be confusing at the best of times – even for native speakers. When it comes to talking around residence rights it is important to know and be able to use the correct terms, as using the wrong vocabulary has the potential to cause serious problems. You also need to be aware if officials are using the wrong terminology with you, in case that indicates a misunderstanding of your situation and you being given less favourable conditions than those you are entitled to. 

With that in mind, we have put together a quick introduction to terms you need to know (and those you need to avoid). 

German-English vocabulary list: 

Aufenthaltsdokument-GB – GB-residence document
Aufenthaltserlaubnis – residence permit
Aufenthaltsrecht – right of residence
Aufenthaltsstatus – residence status
Aufenthaltstitel – residence title
Aufenthaltsgesetz – Residence Act
Ausländerbehörde (might be known locally by another name such as Migrationsamt, Einwanderungsamt or similar) – Foreigners Registration Authority
Austrittsabkommen – Withdrawal Agreement
Bescheinigung über das Daueraufenthaltsrecht für Unionsbürger – Certificate of permanent residence for EU citizens
Daueraufenthaltsrecht – right of permanent residence
Drittstaatsangehörige(r) – Third Country National
Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt-EU – EU Long term residence permit
festem Wohnsitz – fixed address
freizügigkeitsberechtigt
– entitled to free movement
Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU – Freedom of Movement Act/EU
Niederlassungserlaubnis – settlement permit 

In practice

Here we now put these terms into action to explain further what they mean in practice (we’ve also included a bilingual summary of the information at the end): 

Residence status under the Withdrawal Agreement and Freedom of Movement Act/EU

For British citizens who are in scope, your new residence status (Aufenthaltsstatus) is obtained automatically by law (kraft Gesetzes) under Article 18(4) of the Withdrawal Agreement (Austrittsabkommen) in combination with Paragraph 16 of the German Freedom of Movement Act/EU (§ 16 Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU). 

You should notify the Ausländerbehörde of your residence in Germany (den Aufenthalt in Deutschland bei der Ausländerbehörde anzeigen). NB: This is not the same as registering when you move into a new property (Anmeldung einer Wohnung) – it is something completely separate. 

Once you have notified them of your residence, the Ausländerbehörde should contact you to let you know the process for them issuing you with a new GB-residence document (Ausstellung eines Aufenthalsdokuments-GB). They should do this ex officio (von Amts wegen), i.e. it is not something for which you need to submit an application (Antrag) as such, even if you may need to fill in a form with some basic details.

You do not need to submit an application for a residence title to be granted (einen Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels stellen), as this is something completely different, see below for more information. Be aware of Ausländerbehörden asking you to fill in the incorrect form. 

For further details, see our British in Germany brief guide to what you need to get a GB-residence document. Further information can also be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) in both English and German

Residence titles: residence status for Third Country Nationals under the Residence Act 

Residence titles (Aufenthaltstitel), fall under the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) and not the Freedom of Movement Act/EU. There are four main types of residence title, two from domestic German law and two from European law. 

The residence titles from German law are: 

  • residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) – a temporary status 
  • settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) – a permanent / long-term status 

The residence titles from European law are: 

  • EU Blue card (Blaue Karte EU) – a temporary status, similar to the German resident permit 
  • EU Long term residence permit (Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt-EU) – a permanent / long-term status, similar to the German settlement permit. 

Additional residence titles are the visa (Visum), as well as the ICT Card (ICT Karte) and the Mobile ICT Card (Mobile ICT-Karte) – NB: ICT stands here for intra-corporate transfer. 

A residence title is not gained automatically but rather must be granted (erteilt) by the Ausländerbehörde following an application. 

It is important that you are aware that if you have a right of residence (Aufenthaltsrecht) under the Withdrawal Agreement, then you do not fall under the general Residence Act, which is what applies to most non-EU citizens in Germany. This is a very important distinction. The conditions under the Residence Act are much stricter and in some cases the rights attached are much less favourable. 

There are some cases where you might wish to apply for a residence title under the Residence Act in addition to your automatic residence status under the Withdrawal Agreement. For example, the two residence titles from European law provide limited rights that can make it easier to move to another EU country. If you chose to apply for a residence title in addition to your status under Withdrawal Agreement, then you must of course meet all the normal relevant criteria the same as any other Third Country National (Drittstaatsangehörige/r). 

In summary

English

British citizens who are in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement obtain a right of residence in Germany by virtue of law (German Freedom of Movement Act/EU). No application is required. Affected Brits should notify their local Foreigners Registration Authority of their residence in Germany. Following this they will be issued with a GB-residence document. They do not have to apply for a residence title to be granted under Germany’s Residence Act (e.g. a residence permit or a settlement). They may, however, possess both a residence status under the Withdrawal Agreement and a residence title under the Residence Act at the same time. 

Deutsch

Britische Staatsangehörige, die nach dem Austrittsabkommen begünstigt sind, erhalten kraft Gesetzes (Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU) ein Aufenthaltsrecht in Deutschland. Dazu bedarf es keines Antrages. Betroffene Brit:innen sollten ihren Aufenthalt in Deutschland bei der örtlichen Ausländerbehörde anzeigen. Infolgedessen wird ihnen ein Aufenthaltsdokument-GB ausgestellt. Sie müssen keinen Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels nach dem Aufenthaltsgesetzes (z.B. die Aufenthaltserlaubnis oder die Niederlassungserlaubnis) stellen. Sie dürfen jedoch sowohl ein Aufenthaltsrecht nach dem Austrittsabkommen als auch einen Aufenthaltstitel nach dem Aufenthaltsgesetz gleichzeitig besitzen.

 

Main image: Gerd Altmann  pixabay

Latest: Residency in Germany after transition

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

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 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).