Can I move to Germany from the UK?
Although the UK has left the EU, it is still possible for British citizens to move to Germany, albeit with more layers of bureaucracy and more complex immigration processes.
Since the UK decided to leave the European Union, the residency rights of UK citizens in Germany have changed, and people planning on moving to Germany must now ensure that they abide by the immigration rules.
Currently, you can enter Germany without a visa or residence permit, but if you wish to seek employment, you must apply for a residence permit.
In some cases, depending on the visa, you may be required to apply for an employment visa before you enter the country.
Read on to learn how UK nationals can begin the process of moving to Germany, including information on the immigration processes, obtaining a work visa, buying property, and the cost of living compared to the UK.
It is not essential to work with an immigration lawyer, but doing so can help you through the process which can be confusing at times.
Speak to our friendly client care team today to find out more about our range of services. Call +1 844 290 6312 for an immediate discussion.
Immigration changes since Brexit
A number of changes have occurred since Britain left the EU. It is essential that you hold the correct permission to enter, live, and work in Germany.
Some British citizens may have the right to move freely throughout the EU if one of the following applies:
- they meet certain conditions under the Withdrawal Agreement
- they are a citizen of another European Union or European Economic Area country
- they meet the requirements of the EU permanent residence permit or the EU Blue Card
If you wish to apply for permanent residency in Germany as a UK emigrant moving after 31 December 2020, you must meet the following conditions to be eligible:
- You must live in Germany for five years with no disqualifying absences during this time (maximum of six months or 12 months in exceptional cases)
- Submission of correct documents, including the completed application form
- Proof of health insurance plan
- Evidence of 60 months of social security contributions
- Proof of having at least B1 level of German language
- Evidence of financial maintenance
As well as this, there are other conditions based on the type of residency you wish to apply for.
You can get a fast-tracked permanent residence permit if you are applying on the basis of being a graduate of a German university, being married to a German citizen, or being a highly skilled worker in a particular field (similar to the UK’s Skilled Worker Visa).
Working in Germany
There are a number of work visas that UK citizens can apply for if they wish to move to Germany.
- Job Seeker Visa
- Visa for Qualified Professionals
- Visa for IT Professionals
- Visa for Self-Employment
1. Job Seeker Visa
Unlike the UK, Germany allows eligible individuals the opportunity to come without a concrete job offer, with the possibility of staying for up to six months to look for work.
Applicants must meet strict eligibility criteria, including the following:
- You must provide evidence of having attended a vocational or academic institution
- Your qualifications are recognised as valid in Germany
- You hold a professional practice permit (where relevant)
- You hold a minimum level of German language skills (typically B1 level on the CEFR scale)
- You are able to financially maintain yourself while looking for work
2. Visa for Qualified Professionals
This visa is for individuals who attended a higher education institution or qualified vocational training outside of Germany.
The requirements for this visa include:
- Germany recognises your qualifications as being valid
- You hold a professional practice permit (if working in a regulated industry such as healthcare)
- You have received a job offer from an eligible employer
- If you are aged over 45 years old, your gross annual salary must be at least €46,860
3. Visa for IT Professionals
As IT is a highly in-demand field, there is a visa available solely for professionals in the field of information technology.
Applicants must demonstrate that they have the following:
- A minimum of three years of professional experience in IT during the last seven years
- Successful completion of training courses and/or exams to demonstrate theoretical knowledge
- An eligible job offer in the IT sector with a salary of at least €51,120 annually
- German language skills of at least B1 level
4. Visa for self-employment
It is possible for certain self-employed individuals to start a business or work on a freelance basis in Germany.
To start a business, immigrants must be able to demonstrate the following:
- There is economic interest and demand in your product or service
- Your company will positively affect the local or national economy
- You have the capacity to fund your business concept with your own finances or an eligible loan
- If you are aged over 45 years, you must be able to provide proof of eligible old age pension provisions
Finding somewhere to live checklist
Once you have understood your visa obligations, and you have chosen the most appropriate route based on your circumstances, the next question will be finding accommodation for you and any dependents.
Below is a checklist of finding somewhere to live if you move to Germany from the UK:
- When you first move to Germany, you must register yourself at the Residents’ Registration Office or Citizens’ Registration Office within two weeks of your arrival
- You will need to present a valid identity document in order to register. If you are renting a property, you must have a housing provider confirmation document
- Check the housing costs of your chosen location in Germany using this rental rate checker to look at different German cities
- If you decide to rent, you must sign a lease stating your rights and obligations as a tenant
- You should have your documents ready to present to a potential landlord (passport, payslips, details of a guarantor, credit report, reference from previous landlords)
- You must register and sign a contract with energy and water utility companies (unless they are included as part of your rent)
- Sign up for health insurance with a valid health insurance company
- Register for phone, WIFI, and television providers, as well as a German bank account and your tax ID number
Renting is a popular choice in Germany, with the majority of Germans choosing to rent. There is a strong rental market, with the average rental cost of an apartment in Berlin reaching approximately €1,100.
Depending on the location, you can expect to pay between one-quarter and one-third of your monthly income on rent.
Munich, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart are major cities, each one relatively expensive to live in when compared with another Germany city.
You may come across the term ‘4ZKB’ when you are searching for a place to rent.
This is colloquial term for a standard German rented apartment, meaning for rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom (Zimmer, Küche, Badezimmer).
Buying a property in Germany is complex, and may not be suitable for some individuals when they first move from the UK to Germany.
However, if you do wish to buy, you should be aware that you may be required to pay between 40% and 50% of the property cost of the property when applying for a mortgage.
How much does it cost to move from the UK to Germany?
The cost of an international move can vary greatly depending on your circumstances. Below are some of the most common costs.
- Visa application costs
- Medical insurance
- Cost of living
- Storage costs
- Removal and packing costs
1. Visa application costs
To apply to live in Germany, you will incur a number of costs as a UK citizen. These include:
- Schengen Visa application costs: £51 per adult and £30 per child aged between six and 12 years, free if aged below six years
- Long-Stay Visa application: £64 (€75) per adult, £32 (€38) per child aged under 18 years
Visa application fees are non-refundable, so it is important to be confident of your decision before submitting an application.
2. Medical insurance
If you plan to live in Germany, you must have medical insurance. 90% of all German residents join the statutory insurer (known as gesetzliche Krankenkasse) where they pay a monthly fee.
The statutory public health insurance fee is 14.6% of an employee’s gross salary (half paid for by the employee, and half by the employer) and it is capped at a maximum of €360 per month.
It may also be possible to join a private healthcare provider (10% of the population have private plans).
3. Cost of living
The cost of living in Germany is lower than in Germany, and many other European countries. The estimated average cost of living in Germany is between €900 – €2,500 per month, depending on where you live and your circumstances.
This figure can vary widely from person to person, but it is recommended to have a basic idea of your living costs before moving, in order to ensure that you can financially manage. Comparison websites such as Numbeo can help you learn more about living costs in Germany compared to the UK. According to this website, you can expect the following differences in living costs:
- Consumer prices are higher in the UK by 3.89%
- Rent prices are 11.49% higher in the UK than in Germany
- Restaurant prices are 18.92% higher in the UK than in Germany
- Groceries cost 7.60% higher in the UK
- Local purchasing power is 14.49% lower in the UK than in Germany
4. Storage costs
This may or may not apply to your situation, but some people choose to place belongings or furniture in storage when they embark on an international move.
The cost of storage varies depending on the company you choose, how many items you wish to store, and how long you wish to store them. The average cost of self-storage in the UK is £23.94 per square foot per year.
5. Removal and packing costs
The average cost of moving your belongings from the UK to mainland Europe (including Germany) is between £2,000 and £3,000.
The cheaper option may be for road removal, however, this is likely to take longer. You can move your belongings by air, but this will likely be more expensive. If you choose to pay for packing services, this will likely be an additional cost. In some cases, it may also be cheaper to buy new furnishings in your new country rather than pay to transport them.
Does Germany allow dual citizenship?
In general, Germany does not permit dual citizenship. EU citizens living in Germany are not required to renounce their citizenship if they wish to naturalise as German citizens, and vice versa for German citizens.
The same was true for UK citizens before Brexit, however, this has changed.
The only British citizens who are entitled to dual citizenship in Germany are those individuals who were living there prior to 31st December 2020.
If this applies to you, you will be protected by the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and you may continue to have the same rights.
However, if you are planning to move from the UK to Germany after this date, you are unlikely to be able to hold dual citizenship, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
This means you may have to decide to renounce your British citizenship if you ever wish to hold German citizenship.
This could be a difficult decision to make, and it is important to be aware of the implications of renouncing your citizenship.
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Since Britain left the EU, the way UK citizens can immigrate to Germany has changed. Since 31st December 2020, UK citizens are no longer entitled to live and work in Germany without restrictions.
It is still possible to immigrate to Germany, but if you are from the UK, you must hold the correct visa permissions. For the majority of people, this means that you must apply for the most appropriate work or family visa based on your circumstances.
It is more difficult for UK nationals to immigrate to Germany as a result of Brexit, but it is still possible.
Some countries have a specific retirement visa, which allows eligible individuals to retire in the country if they meet certain conditions. Unlike many countries, Germany does not have a pathway for a retirement visa.
One available option may be to apply for the Aufenthaltserlaubnis (general temporary residence permit). When submitting the purpose of the visa, if retirement is the sole purpose, the applicant will normally not be allowed to work in Germany.
To be granted a residence permit, you must be able to demonstrate to the German authorities your self-sufficiency and proof of approved health insurance.
This is a very personal decision, and can only be decided by you. There are similarities and differences between the two countries and the pull factors for emigration are naturally different for everyone.
Some points that may inform your decision include the following:
- Crime rate in Germany (36.08) vs United Kingdom (51.25)
- Punctuality of trains in Germany (94.1% on time) compared to UK (87.3% on time) in 2017
- Centralised, state-run, free NHS in the UK vs decentralised, more expensive healthcare system in Germany
- Childcare (kindergarten) in Germany (approx. €120 per month) vs UK (approx. £600 per month)
- Work-life balance is better in Germany (Germans are 13% more productive than UK workers)
Clearly, there are many advantages of living in Germany, but this is not to assert that one country is better than the other as it depends on your preferences.
Yes, you are required by law to hold medical insurance if you wish to live in Germany. 90% of residents are part of the statutory health insurance body, with 10% holding private health insurance policies.
If you are moving to Germany, you cannot continue to use your UK driving licence. You are required to exchange your UK licence for a German one within six months of moving to Germany.
This applies to individuals living in Germany prior to 1st January 2021. Similarly, if you have a UK registered car, you must register it in Germany.
We are experienced immigration lawyers with expertise covering all areas of immigration law. Contact us if you have a case that you need our support with.
We can assist you throughout every step of the process, and give you the legal advice you need to make decisions about your future.
As well as moving to Germany, we can also assist you with the following:
- Emigrate to Ireland
- Emigrate to the USA
- Emigrate to Australia
- Emigrate to Canada
- Emigrate to Portugal
- Emigrate to Spain
- Emigrate to Russia
Call our friendly client care team or use the online contact form to get in touch today.