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Thinking about applying for German Citizenship?

On 27 June 2024, the changes to the German Citizenship Act (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz – (here in German) will come into force.

The bottom line for British citizens living in Germany is that the updated law reduces the length of time needed to qualify for German citizenship from 6 or 8 years to 5 or even 3 years for those who are especially well-integrated into German society.

And Germany’s restrictions on holding multiple citizenships are being removed completely.   This will allow many thousands of foreign nationals resident in Germany to keep their original nationality while becoming German. So Brits who could not apply for German citizenship before the end of the Brexit transition period will also be able to become dual citizens. 

So big changes afoot, but where to start?

It can be hard to find clear and reliable information about how to prepare and what to expect from the process.  Although the same law applies across Germany the decentralised federal structure means that each individual state is responsible for how the law is implemented. So things like how you can apply, exactly what documents will be requested, and how particular cases are decided may vary from one city, town or district to another.

So note that this article is intended as general information only and it’s worth being across the federal and local guidance documents that authorities will publish once the law has changed.  You’ll find those at the citizenship or naturalisation offices in your local area or you could consult a local immigration advice service  (Migrationsberatung).

Generally speaking here are the key things to be aware of.

Main eligibility requirements
  • documented identity and nationality
  • legally resident in Germany for at least 3 and in most cases 5 years
  • permanent right of residence
  • able to make a living for yourself and your dependent family members (not receiving certain government benefits e.g Bürgergeld)
  • no criminal record
  • a  sufficient knowledge of German (B1)
  • basic civic knowledge as shown by Einbürgerungstest
  • committed to the free democratic constitution of Germany
  • able to fit into German living conditions

To see whether you might qualify for citizenship, you could try the “Quick Check“ provided by the Bavarian government (and recommended also by other local authorities in other Bundesländer). Berlin has its own Berlin Citizenship Quick Check

This has been updated to reflect the changes to the law and gives you an initial idea of whether or not you would currently qualify for citizenship.  But remember how decisions are made does vary from office to office and state to state. 

What documents do I need?

Your local naturalisation office will tell you exactly which documents they need from you. This will vary depending on your individual circumstances.  For instance, if it’s clear you speak fluent German you may not have to do the German test.  Some of the things that you may be asked for include:

  • Passport
  • Birth, marriage certificates etc.
  • Your residence title (e.g. Aufenthaltsdokument-GB card)
  • Language test certificate (B1 or above)
  • Citizenship test certificate
  • if you rent: tenancy agreement, evidence of how much rent you pay, confirmation from your landlord that you are not in rent arrears.
  • if you live in your own property: copy of the Grundbuch (title deed), evidence of mortgage payments and payments to your building’s management company where applicable.
  • if employed: employment contract, last three payslips, written confirmation from your employer that you are still employed.
  • if you are freelancer: evidence of your earnings (e.g. a BWA from your accountant)
  • evidence of your spouse’s income or e.g. child support payments, if applicable.

If, for any reason, you are told that you are not eligible to apply for German citizenship, it is worth getting the office to give you a written statement explaining why. You can use that to clarify and, if relevant, to try again or to challenge the logic.

Can I apply online?

Some areas of Germany have introduced online application forms. We know this includes Berlin, Hamburg and all of Bavaria, but undoubtedly there are other towns and states where we don’t have the feedback.  The online application form will guide you through what documents you need to upload.

In other areas of Germany citizenship applications may still need to be submitted on paper. Where this is the case, your local citizenship office may ask you to attend an initial consultation meeting. At this meeting they will probably do an initial check of whether you are likely to meet the requirements for citizenship. They will also tell you exactly what documents you should submit and give you an application form to take away to complete.

Why get German citizenship?

Some of the advantages:

  • Right to vote in Germany
  • Full EU citizenship and freedom of movement rights in EU
  • Right to stand as a candidate in elections in Germany
More information locally and nationally

Go to this page on our site for a list of links related to naturalization and citizenship. It is not an exhaustive list, but it should help you find a starting point.  Let us know how you get on.  

Additional Information

Germany’s New Citizenship Law

UK election – LAST DAY TO REGISTER!

Deadline

To vote in the British election on 4th July, you must register to vote by midnight UK time on Tuesday 18th June/

Remember now all British citizens can vote, wherever you live or however long you’ve lived outside of the UK.

Once you are registered, you need to organise your proxy or postal vote.  By the way, proxy is much more reliable.

Key points:

  • No time limit for overseas voters

Even if you have been out of the UK for 40 years or more, you can register and vote in the general election

  • Registration is online and easy

Here is the link to the registration website Register to vote Remember latest 18th June

  • Once you are registered, you can apply for a proxy vote

Someone in the UK (Your Proxy) can vote for you. No need to rely on slow overseas post. Proxy registration is also online Proxy request

If no-one is available in the constituency to be your proxy, someone can vote by post as a proxy for you from anywhere else in the UK. UK post obviously more reliable than overseas post.

  • UK government actions impact your rights: have your say

Now and in the future, as a British citizen your rights are affected by UK policies and actions

More information

Got questions? Need more information?  See British in Europe’s Q&A  here: British in Europe voting FAQ

Your question not answered? Try our Facebook group: British in Germany FB group 

Pass it on

If you have friends or relatives outside the UK, make sure they don’t miss out on making their voice heard. Pass the information on.

Encourage them to register as soon as they can.

Germany’s New Citizenship Law

After the 2021 Bundestag election, the socially-liberal Ampel coalition led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to modernise Germany’s citizenship law, including ending the restrictions on dual citizenship.

On 19 January 2024 the reform received approval from the Bundestag by a margin of 382-234 votes. The new legislation is designed to simplify the naturalization process, attract skilled workers to address labour shortages, and foster a more inclusive society.

On 22 March 2024 President Steinmeier signed off on the ‘Law to Modernize Nationality Law’ (Gesetz zur Modernisierung des Staatsangehörigkeitsrechts). It was published in the Bundesgesetzblatt on 26 March 2024 and will come into force on 27 June 2024.

The updated law reduces the length of time required to qualify for citizenship to five years, or three in the case of those who are especially well-integrated into German society. Children born in Germany will also automatically obtain citizenship if at least one parent has been a legal resident for five years.

Germany’s restrictions on holding multiple citizenships are being removed completely. Previously exemption to this was granted for example for EU citizens or to those unable to renounce their previous citizenship. UK citizens were able to benefit from this rule if they had submitted their application before the end of the Brexit transition period.

Now, Brits living in Germany who were not able to apply for German citizenship before Brexit will be able to join the tens of thousands who are already dual German-British citizens.

Becoming a German citizen has several benefits including the right to vote (or even stand for election), as well as having no restrictions on your residence. This would allow British citizens to move to the UK for several years, perhaps to care for relatives, without fear of not being allowed to return to Germany at a later date. German citizenship also means full freedom of movement in the EU, with the ability to live, work and study across Europe.

Here we answer some of the most common questions about these significant changes to Germany’s citizenship law:

What will the new law mean for me?
The new law removes the previous rules restricting dual or multiple citizenship.

If you are hoping to become a German citizen, under the new law Germany will not make you give up your previous citizenship(s). UK citizens will no longer be required to renounce their British citizenship as they have been since the end of the Brexit transition period.

Germans living in the UK will also be able to become British without losing their German citizenship or needing to apply for permission to keep it.

If you already have both German and UK citizenship then of course you will also be able to keep both.

Can I already apply for citizenship?
If you choose to apply now, it is likely that the new rules will be applied to your application as processing times are usually at least several months (and in many parts of Germany they are much longer).

I have already applied for German citizenship. Which version of the law will be used?
If you receive German citizenship after the new law comes into force, the new rules will apply to your application, regardless of the date of when you applied. Until the new law comes into force, the old rules continue to apply.

I am already at the end of the application process for German citizenship. I have received a Zusicherung and been told I now need to renounce my British citizenship before I can become a German citizen. What should I do?
You may wish to contact the local office who gave you the Zusicherung and ask if you can wait for the new law to come into force so that you can keep your British citizenship.

Will my future children be able to have both citizenships?
If you were born in the UK then your children will usually automatically be British at birth, even if they are born outside of the UK. If you were born outside of the UK, then the situation may be different. You can find out more information on the Citizens Advice website.

Under the new law here in Germany, if neither parent is German but they have been living in Germany legally for five years, a child will normally automatically acquire German citizenship at birth.

The so-called “Optionspflicht” (where some dual national children had to decide whether to keep their German citizenship or their other one at the age of 21) is being abolished entirely.

What about existing children?
You can include your underage children on your application for naturalisation.

I’ve already renounced my British citizenship, can I get it back?
It is possible to resume British nationality if you have previously renounced it. Unfortunately it is a costly process. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/renounce-british-nationality/resume-your-british-nationality

Do you have further questions or concerns?
Consider joining the British in Germany Facebook Group to connect directly and share experiences with others applying for German citizenship or those already going through the process.

More Information

THINKING ABOUT APPLYING FOR GERMAN CITIZENSHIP?

LINKS: STATE AND FEDERAL LEVEL NATURALISATION AND CITIZENSHIP INFORMATION

Sources:
[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/1/19/germanys-parliament-approves-easing-citizenship-laws
[2] https://www.dw.com/en/germanys-parliament-approves-easing-dual-citizenship/a-68030714
[3] https://se-legal.de/german-citizenship-bill-2023-what-you-need-to-know/?lang=en
[4] https://www.germany-visa.org/german-citizenship/benefits-and-responsibilities/

Life Long Voting Rights for all Brits Abroad!

SOME POSITIVE NEWS: ALL US BRITS, HOWEVER LONG WE’VE LIVED OUTSIDE OF THE UK NOW HAVE THE LIFE LONG RIGHT TO VOTE IN THE UK

***LAST UPDATE – Since 16th January 2024, all British citizens living outside of the UK can vote. Don’t delay in registering. See here for all the details you’ll need.

** UPDATE The final run of secondary legislation took place in the Lords evening of 12th December and the date of Tuesday 16th January 2024 for that legislation to be active is now locked in.

Nov. 2023 we wrote…

As you may have heard in the news recently, draft secondary legislation to implement the Elections Act 2022 and re-enfranchise around 3 million overseas British electors was ‘laid’ before both UK Houses of Parliament on 23 October and published on 25 October 2023.

The draft statutory legislation (SI) has to go through a scrutiny process before both houses of parliament, but we expect that to be done and the SI to be ‘made or adopted before the end of the year and hopefully come into force by 16 January 2024 (this is the date proposed in the draft secondary legislation) More details on this here.

Very significantly, this will re-enfranchise around 3 million Brits living outside of the UK, many of whom had been dis-enfranchised due to the 15 year rule.

The Electoral Commission is already preparing for the registration of this large number of newly re-enfranchised British voters in their relevant constituencies. British in Europe has already been working on a secondary legislation advocacy project about the implementation of the changes since last year and will partner with the Electoral Commission on its awareness raising campaign. Generally, British in Europe and British in Germany e.V. plan to play an active role in getting word out to Brits across Europe, that they can vote again in the UK.

If you’d be interested in supporting that campaign in any way please get in touch at info(at)britishingermany.org

So many extra votes added to the current electorate could have a significant impact on forthcoming national elections and in strengthening the representation of British democracy.

The next UK General Election, the date of which will be decided by the present government, must take place latest by January 2025.

More positive news …….read here about the British High Court that EU citizens with pre-settled status will not lose their status if they do not apply for ‘settled status’. were 306,300 refusals, 133,000 withdrawn or void outcomes and 124,560 invalid outcomes in the same period, representing, combined, 9% of total outcomes.

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 join here.

Dual Citizenship: German government planning new law

A draft law aimed at making it easier to acquire German citizenship for people who have lived in Germany for 5 years or more is currently being prepared by the German federal government.

The proposed law, if enacted may permit applicants to retain their original citizenship, while getting German citizenship in addition.  It is also being proposed to allow people to gain German citizenship after just three years living in Germany if they are especially well integrated and speak good German.

Currently, the process of obtaining citizenship in Germany often requires individuals to reside in the country for up to eight years and for non-EU citizens to surrender their original citizenship.  Over 70,000 Brits in Germany now have dual British-German citizenship, as they applied for German citizenship before the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020, allowing them to keep their British citizenship.  That is now no longer possible.

The proposed changes to the law have been welcomed by British in Germany because they offer an opportunity for those who were not able to benefit from gaining EU/German citizenship before the Brexit transition period, to potentially still do so, creating less of a division in rights amongst British citizens living in Germany.

The new law, if passed, would bring numerous benefits for British citizens if they acquired dual citizenship  including the right to vote in all elections and the right to free movement to live and work in other EU member states, something that British citizens have lost as a result of Brexit. At the same time, it would allow British citizens to preserve their rights in the UK, allowing them for example to work in the UK or if they needed to return to care for older relatives, which is quite often the case.

The German coalition government has expressed its intention to enact the law by the summer of 2023. British in Germany will be following developments closely and keeping our members updated.

To find out more about current citizenship regulations see here.

Some recent press coverage of the changes:

https://www.dw.com/en/germanys-dual-citizenship-reforms-way-overdue-say-immigrants/a-63987066

https://www.iamexpat.de/expat-info/german-expat-news/what-written-germanys-dual-citizenship-draft-law

https://www.ft.com/content/9c3782ef-4ae0-4294-8be5-49d37c4867e1#comments-anchor

https://www.thelocal.de/20221216/explained-who-are-the-people-taking-german-citizenship

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 join here.

Visa requirements for arrivals post-Brexit (after Dec 2020)

Are you travelling to Germany as a tourist, on business, for studies, to work, or maybe to join family members who live there?

There are lots of different reasons British citizens want to travel to, or move to Germany and the German government has provided a lot of helpful information,  to help you to understand which visa you need based on your individual situation.

All British citizens are allowed to travel to Germany and the whole Schengen area without a visa for 90 days in any 180 day period. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

For those that want to stay longer in Germany, or find out options on future longer stays or living in Germany, below is a list of useful links to pages that we have checked, that should help you with most of what you are looking for.

If you were living in Germany at the end of transition on 31st December 2020, and you are covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, you do not need a visa.

UK performing artists no longer have free movement rights to travel and work across the EU. Those wanting to work or tour in Germany should inform themselves of the specific requirements and responsibilities, links listed below.

The Vander Elst Visa is also worth considering for third country nationals who are employees of EU companies and wish to to work on temporary assignments, links listed below.

Visa Navigator
Which visa do I need for Germany?
https://visa.diplo.de/en/index.html#/vib

Visa Navigator – Visa Categories
https://visa.diplo.de/en/index.html#/vib/kurzinfo

Do I need a visa?
This article tells you whether you need a visa for Germany.
https://uk.diplo.de/uk-en/02/visa/do-i-need-a-visa/2442126?openAccordionId=item-2442128-0-panel

Visa information – Visa Services at the German Missions in the UK
https://uk.diplo.de/uk-en/02/visa

German missions in the United Kingdom
https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/aussenpolitik/laenderinformationen/grossbritannien-node/unitedkingdom-gr/218924?openAccordionId=item-236048-0-panel

FAQ and other important information
https://uk.diplo.de/uk-en/02/visa/visa-faq/2442852?openAccordionId=item-2463630-13-panel

UK performing artists
https://www.touring-artists.info/en/ressourcen/brexit/uk-to-germany

https://lordslibrary.parliament.uk/musicians-working-and-touring-in-the-european-union/

https://musiciansunion.org.uk/working-performing/working-overseas/working-in-the-eu

Vander Elst Visa
Germany has a specific Visa for this, which you apply for in your host EU country.
https://www.zoll.de/EN/Businesses/Work/Foreign-domiciled-employers-posting/Residence-title/Nationals-of-third-countries/uebersicht_aufenthaltstitel.htm

https://wien.diplo.de/blob/1995750/cb0640d10768c708aa18632777400b0a/vander-elst—grenzueberschreitende-dienstleistungserbringung—data.pdf

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A61993CJ0043

 

Residency with WA rights for arrivals pre-Brexit (before Dec 31 2020)

*****Information updated on 22.04.2021*****

The new German law  on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the future of UK citizens’ residence in Germany came into force in November 2020.  For all UK citizens who were living in Germany before the end of the Brexit transition on 31st December 2020, this law is very important to understand – in order to maintain and protect your citizenship rights.  The law describes how German law puts into effect the Withdrawal Agreement to cover your future rights to live, work, study and retire in Germany, and defines how you will be able to evidence those rights in future.

Germany has adopted an approach (which British in Germany e.V.  supports) known as “declaratory”. This means you are not applying for your rights but simply asking for rights that you have to be officially documented. This is significantly different from the system adopted in some other countries, such as Austria, France and the UK.

In general, you acquired residence rights in Germany by law (von Amts wegen) under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, if you were resident in Germany and exercising your free movement rights at the end of the transition period. (31 Dec 2020)

In this case, you should request that you are issued with an individual residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB) so you have evidence of your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Local Ausländerbehörde around the country are responsible for the process to get a residence document. As always, with the German Federal system, there are differences in the ways that Ausländerbehörde run the process.  But while the process is local, it’s important to remember that the legal framework is based in EU law and the Federal government has published guidance to help local authorities correctly apply the law across the whole of Germany.  

What are the steps you need to take?

If you have not already done so, contact your local Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) as soon as possible.

Your Ausländerbehörde may have contacted you directly and have given you instructions steps to follow. Or there may be a form available on your local website. Some Ausländerbehörde have simply provided information on how to start the process via their local web page.  Check it out, but if you haven’t heard anything or are unsure, take the initiative yourself.

Write to your local Ausländerbehörde, preferably via a registered letter (Einschreiben mit Rückschein) so that you have proof of your action, telling 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)

There is a suggested template that you can use here

The German authorities are asking everyone to notify their Ausländerbehörde of their residence by 30th June, 2021. 

You can check which office is responsible for you here: Auslaenderbehoerden

In many publications/online and in the minds of some Ausländerbehörde, 30th June, 2021 seems to be considered a hard “deadline”. It is not. However, you will probably save yourself some discussion, if you make sure that you have contacted your local Ausländerbehörde before that date.

Once you have notified your local Ausländerbehörde, you have completed the actions that the German authorities are asking you to take. Your Ausländerbehörde is then responsible for initiating the next steps.

30th June is not a deadline by which documents must be issued and some offices already expect to take much longer. If you need to travel or if, for example, you need to present evidence of status to your employer, you may request a “Fiktionsbescheinigung” from your local Ausländerbehörde. Expected additional cost for a Fiktionsbescheinigung is EUR 13. (Note, however, that some areas including Berlin have stated that they will not issue Fiktionsbescheinigungen to UK citizens.)

What will the Ausländerbehörde do?

The Ausländerbehörde are supposed to acknowledge receipt of your communication, but we know that some places have been slow at doing this. If you are not sure whether or not your notification has been received, contact them to request that they provide confirmation.

In most cases, the Ausländerbehörde will ask you to provide various types of documentation. You may be asked to post or email copies or you may be asked to bring these to an appointment, or both. What exactly is requested varies by office. However, typically, you can expect to need to show evidence that you were resident in Germany before 31 December, 2020 (for example by showing an Anmeldung and/or Meldebescheinigung), as well as the obvious passport information confirming that you are a British citizen or a qualifying family member of a British citizen.

If you are employed or self-employed, you may be asked for some evidence of that status and income. If you are not, you will probably be asked for some evidence of funds (savings, pension, grants, benefits etc) that indicate you are able to support yourself. Some offices seem to be asking for evidence of rental contracts. Students may be asked to show evidence of registration at their place of study.

If you are asked for evidence of German language competency, or if it is suggested that you or your employer may need some kind of authorisation in order for you to work, then it is worth checking that they are not using the criteria for a different type of residence status and that they have understood that you are in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement.

At some point, you will be given an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde. How long it takes to get an appointment depends very much on the local office. Many offices simply ask you to wait until they contact you, some have an online booking system and a few allow you to call to make an appointment. You may be able to find information on the local website. Some offices seem to be progressing very quickly, but others have not yet started. Some appear to be completely closed down at the moment due to Covid.

When you go to your appointment, you will generally be required to show your passport, provide a photo, give your fingerprints and to pay a fee. (Some offices are requesting the fee at a later date.) In many cases, this will be all, but some offices are doing a thorough check of documents, both those submitted in advance and others, so you may wish to go prepared.

Permanent residence?

If you believe you should have “Daueraufenthalt” (permanent residence), for example, you have lived in Germany for at least five years, then you should request that this is mentioned on your card. You may be asked for more proofs that you have really been exercising free movement rights for a continuous five-year period. This may include evidence of health insurance, pension contributions and employment. Receiving Arbeitslosengeld I should not be an obstacle (as that is a benefit for which you have paid contributions) but receiving Arbeitslosengeld II may be. It may be that you have to build up a new continuous five-year period of meeting the conditions before you gain permanent residence.

For more information about Daueraufenthalt, see section 4 of this British in Europe guide.

If you believe you are entitled to “Daueraufenthalt” and wish to claim it, ALWAYS say so at your interview and preferably put the request in writing. The Ausländerbehörde may take an initiative to check whether you have Daueraufenthalt status, but are under no obligation to do so. It seems that many are not making such a check. Daueraufenthalt gives you some additional rights and securities under the WA so it is generally in your interest to request it. If you are not yet eligible, don’t worry: you can accumulate time from before 31st December, 2020 and after to complete the five continuous years and qualify for Daueraufenthalt at a later date.

Cost?
The standard cost for issuing an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB is EUR 37.00 for those over 24 and EUR 22.80 for those who are younger. This is the same as the cost of an identity card for a German citizen. 

If you previously had a certificate of permanent residence issued to you as an EU citizen (Bescheinigung über das Daueraufenthaltsrecht für Unionsbürger), then you should be able to exchange this for the new card free of charge.

If you require a Fiktionsbescheinigung, there will usually be an additional cost of EUR 13.

After your appointment, once your rights under the WA have been registered, the local office will order an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB residence card for you.  The cards are produced centrally and then sent out to the local Ausländerbehörde, either for collection or for distribution by post. Which method seems to depend on the local office. You will also receive a letter with a PIN and PUK for the card. If you pick up the card in person, these electronic features should automatically already be activated. If you receive your card by post, you will have to visit a local office to have them activated.

What do I end up with?

The residence document which you should receive (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB) will look something like this:

On the front, under “Art des Titels” it should have the words: ARTIKEL 50 EUV, and below that under “Anmerkungen” ARTIKEL 18 (4) AUSTRITTSABKOMMEN

The right to work will be noted on the back under “Anmerkungen” with the words “Erwerbstätigkeit erlaubt”. This is also where a note may be included to state that you have permanent residency (after five years) “Daueraufenthalt”.

Check that your name, passport details etc are all correct.

The card should be valid for a minimum of 5 years even if your British passport expires sooner than this. Initially, some cards were mistakenly issued for a shorter period. If that applies to you, you can have the card switched without charge to one with a 5 year validity.  

The validity of the card isn’t the same as the validity of the status. Your card expiring in five years doesn’t mean your right to stay in Germany runs out then, just that you need to renew to get a new card (similar to a passport or a driving licence).

Status refused?

If your Ausländerbehörde tells you that you are not entitled to status under the Withdrawal Agreement and you believe that may be incorrect, you should take action as soon as possible. You can contact IOM or SSAFA directly to let them know your position. They are funded by the UK government to support UK citizens in dealing with the residency process. You can also write to the Ausländerbehörde to tell them that you disagree with their decision and that you wish to appeal it (Einspruch anlegen).

Other residence rights in Germany

You have a Daueraufenthaltsbescheinigung-EU?
This continues to be valid until end of December 2021. You will be able to swap the Bescheinigung über das Daueraufenthaltsrecht für Unionsbürger for the new document without charge.

You are a dual UK-German citizen?
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.

You have another EU nationality as well as UK?
Your rights to live in Germany as an EU citizen have not changed. If you wish, you may request an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB as evidence that you also have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

In some cases, you may have greater rights under the Withdrawal Agreement than as an EU citizen, for example, if you have Daueraufenthalt, you may leave for up to five years and then reclaim that status on return to Germany. On the other hand, as an EU citizen you retain your right to move freely to other EU countries.

Your spouse/partner is a German or EU citizen?
You may request an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB as evidence that you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

In addition, or alternatively, you probably have a right of residence in Germany as a result of your relationship. You would need an additional document, for which there will be a charge, to evidence that right.

As the partner of an EU citizen, your rights to move elsewhere in the EU together with your partner are greater than those you would have under the Withdrawal Agreement. On the other hand, your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement are your own and are not dependent on your relationship. 

You are a non-EU spouse/partner of a UK citizen?

If you have had a residence title as a partner/spouse of a UK citizen, rather than in your own right, you will need a new document. Your old one as the spouse/partner of an EU citizen will cease to be valid at the end of 2021. You will need to apply for that document for which there will be a charge.

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, it is very helpful if you have an Anmeldung (local registration) dated before 31st December, 2020. However, an Anmeldung alone is neither necessary nor sufficient for you to gain a status under the Withdrawal Agreement.

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 Bundesministerium des Inneren has published guidance “Anwendungshinweise” for the Foreigners’ Offices which gives quite detailed information in German.  There is a courtesy version of this in English on the IOM and SSAFA websites (see below).

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

In case you have questions or need support with your residency, the UK Government is funding two organisations who can help you:
IOM covers Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia.
SSAFA covers Bremen, Hamburg, Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen, as well as Services Veterans anywhere in Germany.

British in Germany’s Facebook Group

If you would like to exchange experiences with others going through the residency process in Germany, you may want to connect with the British in Germany e.V. Facebook group. Just answer our questions, and join the conversation!

Information on Withdrawal Agreement rights

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

Already part way through? Been in touch with the Ausländerbehörde? Been to an appointment? Let us know how it is going by completing one of our surveys.

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 join here.

Main image by Pete Linforth at pixabay

 

Am I still allowed to travel to and work in Germany?

*** Updated Jan 2023. ***

All British citizens can travel to Germany visa free for 3 months.  For a stay longer than 3 months, you are required to register with your local German Citizens Office or Town Hall and announce the purpose of your stay. (Registration – ‘Anmeldung’)

If you arrived into Germany after December 31 2020, and want to work in Germany, you are required to get the relevant working visa from your local Town Hall or Foreigner’s Office. (Ausländerbehorde). You can access some helpful links here.

If you are a UK citizen  and were living in Germany before December 31 2020. you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and therefore have the automatic right to work in Germany.  This is one of the key rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.  We do know of cases where  that right has been challenged by local authorities, 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

We have tried to further sum up your residency rights here under the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Information for employers

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

Version in English Arbeitgeber-Flyer Brexit V2.0_EN-b 

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. Employers are advised to require evidence of status by the end of 2021.

New version 2 published 2 June, 2021

This version includes important changes.

  1. “Trust” period for employment of UK citizens extended from 30th June to end of 2021
  2. Statement that it may take the authorities until the end of the year to complete processing for residence documents
  3. Information on professional activities “not classed as work” for business travellers and persons working in the sports or arts sectors
Key information in the flyer

The flyer, addressed to employers of UK citizens, includes very specific  information.  So you can point your employer directly to this as an authoritative 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 Ende des Jahres 2021 können Sie der Aussage britischer Staatsangehöriger, ein Aufenthaltsrecht nach dem Austrittsabkommen zu haben, vertrauen. Davon können Sie zumindest dann ausgehen, wenn die Berechtigten 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, 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.

Not yet notified your residence and rights? Don’t delay! For more information: Residency – latest 

Information on Withdrawal Agreement rights

We have tried to further sum up your residency rights here under the Withdrawal Agreement. 

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

Moving to Germany now?

Then you will not be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and will need to request permission to work as a third country national. For German government information, see make-it-in-germany.com

 

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 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.

For more information on what you need to do, see here: what to do about residency

Main image: Gerd Altmann  pixabay

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 join here.