- Do I need a permit to move to Germany?
- What do I need to know about the temporary residence permit?
- Temporary residence permit requirements
- How to apply for temporary residence permit
- Temporary residence permit for employment
- Temporary residence permit for self-employment
- Family reunification in Germany
- EU Blue Cards
- When can I apply for permanent residence in Germany?
- Frequently asked questions
How to Emigrate from UK to Germany
The Brexit transition period officially ended on 31st December 2020, bringing in a new era for the United Kingdom. As the UK is no longer part of the EU, British citizens will be subject to immigration conditions.
Post-Brexit, the United Kingdom is largely being treated as one of a select group of non-EEA countries whose citizens enjoy less stringent immigration conditions in Germany than those from other non-EEA countries.
Germany is a popular destination for British expats, offering a relatively similar way of life and good employment opportunities.
The post-Brexit landscape will make it more difficult for Britons to emigrate to Germany. However, you can still begin a new life in Germany if you meet certain conditions, which will be explained in greater details on this page.
Do British Citizens Need a Permit to Live in Germany?
It is still possible to visit Germany without a visa for up to 90 days as a British citizen. However, if you want to live in Germany (or spend longer than 90 days in the country) you need to apply for a residency permit and register yourself in Germany. This applies whether you are emigrating to Germany to work, study, undertake vocational training or to reunite with family.
When you arrive in Germany, you must register at your local registration office within 14 days of arrival. Bear in mind that the office might have different titles locally such as Einwohnermeldeamt, Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Burgerburo or Burgeramt.
There are three main residency permits in Germany: Temporary Residence Permit, Permanent Residence Permit and the EU Blue Card.
If you are a highly qualified person, you may be eligible for the EU Blue Card (more on this below). However, the majority of British citizens who wish to emigrate to Germany will need to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit/Limited Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis).
The Temporary Residence Permit is granted to foreign nationals if they have a specific reason for staying in Germany. If you are emigrating to Germany to work, study, undertake a vocational course or reunite with family, you can apply for the Limited Residence Permit.
What do I Need to Know About the Temporary Residence Permit?
The Temporary Residence Permit is granted to foreign nationals if they have a specific reason for staying in Germany.
If you are emigrating to Germany to work, study, undertake a vocational course or reunite with family, you can apply for a Temporary Residence Permit.
When you apply for the Temporary Residence Permit, you need to state the reason why you want to move to Germany. If your application is successful, you will be given a card which states the reason why you are in Germany and what you are permitted to do.
You will only be able to undertake and participate in certain activities in Germany, which are in line with the reason you wanted to move to Germany. For example, you might be given a card which allows you study in Germany as a student, but not work.
Generally, the Temporary Residence Permit is valid for one year. However, it can be extended provided your circumstances haven’t changed significantly.
Ultimately, the Temporary Residence Permit provides a base from which you can begin your journey towards permanent residency in Germany.
What are the Requirements for a German Residence Permit?
In order to be eligible for a residence permit, you will need to be able to fulfil a number of requirements.
The main requirements are as follows:
- Have a valid passport
- Able to prove your proficiency in German is at least to B1 level
- Have German health insurance
- Not have a criminal record
- Able to demonstrate that you have the financial means to support yourself (and any family members)
- Pass a health check which proves you are healthy enough to work and/or study in Germany
You will also need to provide certain other information, depending on your circumstances.
- If you will be working in Germany, you must provide a letter from your employer in Germany with job offer and description
- If you will be studying in Germany, you will need proof that you have been admitted into a university
- If you will be joining your spouse/civil partner in Germany, you will need to provide a recognised marriage/civil partnership certificate
How Do I Apply for a German Residence Permit?
You can begin the process of applying for a residence permit in Germany either in the UK or within 90 days of arriving in Germany. Owing to the length of time it can take to process immigration applications, we recommend starting the process whilst you are in the UK.
The first thing you need to do is register your new German address with the German authorities. Once you have registered your address, you will get a certificate.
It is imperative that you register your German address. You will not be eligible for a residence permit if you do not do this.
Getting Health Insurance and a German Bank Account
If you want to apply for a residence permit, you must have health insurance. Your health insurance must be provided by a German company too.
As mentioned, you must provide evidence that you have the financial means to support yourself and any family members in Germany.
It is prudent to open a German bank account before applying for German residency. You could transfer funds to that bank account and get bank statements to prove your financial status, which you can then submit to the German authorities along with your other information.
Temporary Residence Permit for Employment
If a German company offers you a job, you will be eligible to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit.
As a British citizen, it is not expected that you will need to apply for a specific work visa/permit to work in Germany. Also, you do not need to have a job offer before you travel to Germany (though you can only receive a residence permit with a job offer).
As mentioned, you will also need to have proficiency in German and have health insurance to be eligible for the permit.
Your German employer needs to prove that the position couldn’t be filled by a German or EU citizen, or a priority workers (those who have been in Germany for a long time). You must also get approval from the Federal Employment Agency or Bundeagentur fur Arbeit.
Generally, your permit will be valid for the length of your contract. You can extend the permit as long as you maintain your employment status.
Can I move to Germany as a Self-Employed Person?
It is possible to move to Germany if you’re self-employed. However, it is a particularly lengthy and complex process to secure a German residence permit as a self-employed person.
To be accepted as a self-employed person in Germany, you will need to:
- Prove the business will fulfil a need in Germany and benefit its economy
- Show a viable business plan
- Prove you have the relevant experience
- Show evidence of business funding
- Prove that you can financially support yourself
If you are over the age of 45, you will need to show evidence of your own pension provision.
If you are a freelance worker, you can also apply for a residence permit on the basis of being self-employed. In Germany, a freelancer is determined as someone with catalog professions, known as katalogberufe. This includes those working in science and engineering, the arts, teaching, professional writing, doctors, dentists and lawyers.
Family Reunification in Germany
You can apply to become a resident in Germany on the basis of your relationship to a family member who is living in Germany.
For British citizens, there is no German Family Visa or Spouse Visa per se. A British citizen who qualifies for family reunification will instead be able to apply for a temporary residence permit.
To be eligible, you must be one of the following to the family member:
- Spouse/civil partner
- Long-term unmarried partner
- Their child who is under 16
- Their child who is between the ages of 16 and 18 and you are not married, divorced or widowed
It is also possible to apply for family reunification if you are the parent/legal guardian of a child under the age of 16 who is a German citizen.
How do I Reunite with my Family in Germany?
Generally speaking, the process of family reunification for British citizens will be similar if your family member is a German citizen or person with permanent residency, or if they are an EU citizen currently working and living in Germany.
However, if your family member is from a non-EEA country and they are living and working in Germany, there are certain conditions which must be met in order for you to be able to join them.
- Your partner has a permanent residence permit or an EU Blue Card for Germany
- As a family, you have enough money to financially support yourselves
- Your partner has rented accommodation in Germany which is large enough for your family
- You have sufficient health insurance cover
- You must have basic knowledge of German, which typically needs to be at B1 level
If you have children who are born in Germany and you have a valid right of residence, they will receive a residence permit.
What are EU Blue Cards?
EU Blue Cards are for highly-qualified people who are from non-EU countries. Holders of EU Blue Cards can live and work in EU countries without the need to go through the standard immigration systems of those countries.
In Germany, you could be eligible for an EU blue card if you have at least a university degree and a guaranteed job with an income of at least €50,800. If you will be working in an occupation with a shortage of workers, this is reduced to €39,624.
EU Blue Card holders enjoy more favourable immigration conditions than those living in Germany with a temporary residence permit.
When Can I Apply for Permanent Residency and Citizenship in Germany as a British Citizen?
Typically, you can apply for permanent residency in Germany once you have spent five years lawfully living in the country. Spouses of German citizens and graduates from a German university may be eligible sooner.
As a person with permanent residency, you can stay in Germany without any immigration conditions. However, you won’t have the same rights as a German citizen. You can apply for German citizenship after you have lived in Germany for eight years.
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If you were legally resident in Germany before 1st January 2021, your rights in Germany will be protected under the Withdrawal Agreement.
In November of 2020, the German government agreed on an approach known as ‘declaratory’. This means that if you were registered as living in Germany before 1st January 2021, you acquire permanent residence status in Germany.
You will need to report your residence to your local Foreigner’s Office (Auslanderberhode) by 30th June 2021. They will require certain documents such as your passport and evidence of your local registration in Germany.
You will be given a document or card which details your permanent residency/long-term residence permit after your residence application has been processed.
If you want to move to Germany post-Brexit and are not eligible for rights under the declaratory, you will need to meet certain conditions in order to be eligible for a temporary residence permit.
If you are a highly skilled person and you earn more than €84,600, you could be eligible for a settlement permit.
This enables you and your family members to live in Germany indefinitely.
There is no definitive answer to this – it depends on the card which the German authorities give you if your temporary residence permit application is accepted.
Still, in most cases, you will be able to work full-time for at total of 120 days, or half-time for a total of 240 days during your permit validity period. However, you will not be able to enter into long-term contracts.
The jobseeker visa enables certain foreign nationals in Germany the chance to stay in the country for up to six months to look for a job. Once you have found a job, you can then apply for a residence permit.
Eligibility criteria for Jobseeker Visa:
- Hold an undergraduate or higher degree from a German university or equivalent foreign degree
- Have a minimum of five years of experience in your related field of study
- Able to show proof that you can financially support yourself during your time in Germany
- Have travel or medical insurance for your stay in Germany
The exact rules for retirement in Germany for British citizens has not yet been formally confirmed post-Brexit.
It is expected that British citizens will be able to travel to Germany for up to 90 days without a visa, before applying for German residency once they are in the country.
You will need to provide information regarding your pension and your financial means, and there also tax considerations to be aware of as a retired person in Germany.
The Immigration Advice Service is passionate about helping those who wish to relocate from the UK. Whether you are looking to emigrate to work, to study, to join a family member, or even to retire, we can help.
We offer a specialist emigration package to those who are looking to move to Germany. With this service, one of our experienced immigration legal specialists will take the time to understand your circumstances and formulate a plan of action to make your relocation dreams a reality.
They will liaise with the German authorities and inform you of exactly what you need to do. They will help you to complete your permit application and gather all relevant information and documentation.
Emigrating to another country is undoubtedly a stressful process. However, we can help to take some of that stress away and make your move as smooth as possible.
Call us now on 0333 305 9375 to find out how we can help you to emigrate to Germany from the UK.
Yes, the IAS provides emigration services for those looking to emigrate to other EU countries.
This includes British citizens who want to move to Spain.