According to the German Statistical Office, there are more than 107,000 Brits living in Germany, and this number is estimated to double by 2024. Most UK citizens find Germany a favorable country to live in due to its numerous employment opportunities, well-performing economy, high salaries, and excellent (and free) education system.
Since 31 January 2021, UK citizens can no longer stay and work in Germany without a visa and work permit. Therefore, you must apply for a residence permit either before traveling to Germany or after you arrive in Germany. British citizens can stay up to 90 days visa-free.
This guide looks into everything you need to know regarding moving to Germany from the UK after Brexit. It looks into the meaning of Brexit, whether it’s possible to move to Germany after Brexit, and the requirements. It finalizes by answering whether you can have both German and UK passports after Brexit.
Can a UK citizen live in Germany after Brexit?
“Brexit” contains “Britain” and “exit,” which means the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.
The exit happened after a referendum on 23rd June 2016, where the UK voted to formally leave the EU after being a member for 47 years. However, the actual exit was on 31 January 2020.
The actual rules were enforced only after 31 January 2021. So, if you moved from the UK to Germany before January 2021 and became a country resident, you can comfortably live and work there. Due to the Withdrawal Agreement regulations, you have the same rights as before Brexit.
If you want to move now (after January 2021), it’s a bit complicated as there are numerous conditions that you must meet.
If you plan to live in Germany for more than 90 days, you need to get a residency permit and register yourself. These steps are compulsory regardless of your reason for moving, whether studying, working, or reuniting with your family.
Upon arriving in Germany, you should register at your local registration office (Anmeldung) within two weeks. The office may have different titles locally, such as Burgeramt, Buergerbuero, Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR) or Einwohnermeldeamt.
After registration, you must acquire a residence permit before 90 days expire by applying with the Local Foreigner Authority “Ausländerbehörde.
The residence permit allows you to stay in Germany for a restricted period, but you can extend it.
Types of Residency Permits in Germany
As a UK citizen, there are two residency permits that you can acquire in Germany. They include:
1. Temporary residence permit
This permit is for individuals who want to reside in Germany for a limited period for specific study or temporary job.
2. Permanent residence permit
With permanent residency, you can stay in Germany for an unlimited time. However, this permit is only available to someone who has been living in Germany for 5 years prior to that. Thus, you must meet the following conditions before applying for it:
- Have contributed to the statutory pension scheme for not less than five years
- Must have lived in Germany for at least five years on a temporary residence permit
- Should prove that you are financially capable of maintaining yourself
- Must have a living space for yourself and your family
- Must know the German language at the required levels
Requirements for a German residence permit
To be eligible for a temporary residence permit, you will need to be able to fulfill at least the following main requirements:
- Have a job offer or other reason, e.g., studying at university, reunion with the family
- Have German health insurance
- Demonstrate that you financially support yourself (and any family members)
- Have no criminal record
How to become a permanent resident or citizen in Germany as a British citizen
As a Brit, you can apply for permanent residency in Germany after lawfully living there for five years. If you are a spouse to a German citizen or a graduate of a German university, you may be eligible sooner.
A permanent residency allows you to stay in Germany without any immigration conditions. After eight years of being a permanent resident in Germany, you can apply for German citizenship.
Do UK citizens need a visa for Germany after Brexit?
According to Section 41 (1) AufenthV, you don’t need a visa to enter Germany as a UK citizen. However, you must apply for a residence permit within 90 days of arriving in Germany.
If you are moving to Germany from the UK to work, you can apply for a work visa. To acquire a work visa in Germany, you must have already found employment and have an employer sponsor you for the visa.
Otherwise, there is a job seeker visa that is available to someone coming to Germany without a job.
You can apply for the following work visas as a UK citizen:
Job seeker visa. This visa allows you to stay for up to 6 months and look for a suitable job. After you get your job offer, you can apply for one of the options below.
EU Blue Card. It’s a work visa for highly skilled individuals. There is usually a scoring system and yearly cap based on your skills and qualifications. To qualify for this visa, you must have a job offer in Germany, and the job must meet the minimum salary requirements of €56,400.
Intra-Corporate Transfer visa. This visa is perfect if your employer sends you to Germany due to work. The visa is valid for one to three years.
General Employment visa. It’s a common visa among foreign employees in Germany. The hiring company is sponsoring you. Moreover, they also need to prove that there is no suitable candidate for this role within Germany.
Steps to applying for a German visa in the UK
If you choose to apply for a German visa from the UK without entering Germany, follow the steps below:
1. Find the correct visa type
The first step to acquiring your visa while still in the UK is finding the one that suits you among Germany’s numerous types.
For instance, if moving for long-term work purposes, you can apply for a work visa, and if you are moving to reunite with your family, apply for a family visa.
2. Get your documents ready
There are numerous documents that you require for your German visa application. Before starting your application, ensure you have all the documents ready to make the application smooth.
3. Submit your application
Once your documents are ready, submit your visa application to a German mission in the UK.
4. Get your national D visa
Once your application is approved, you will receive a national D visa. This visa depends on your reason for moving to Germany, such as employment or family.
5. Enter Germany
You acquire a residence permit on entering Germany, which makes your D visa unnecessary. To get this permit, visit the Foreigners Authority office in your region within 90 days of your arrival. Additionally, you need to register as a new resident in Germany at your local registration office within 14 days.
Moving to Germany from the UK in 2023
In 2023, it’s more complicated to live in Germany for UK citizens than in previous years. Like third-country nationals, you need to have a residence status or work visa if you plan to live in the country for more than 90 days in any 180 days.
How much does moving to Germany from the UK in 2023 cost?
The total cost of moving to Germany from the UK can range between €5,000 and €10,000.
Below is a table showing the expenses you are likely to have when moving to Germany:
|Expense||Cost||Things to have in mind|
|Visa application||€75||You will require to pay an additional fee for a residence permit|
|Accommodation||€750||It’s the average cost of renting a one-bedroom. The amount varies depending on the location and type of house you choose.|
|Moving your items||€2,300-2,500||The amount will differ depending on the mode of transport you use|
|Storage||€30||The monthly fee|
|Moving your pets||€300-500||This fee varies depending on the species and size of the pet|
Things to keep in mind when moving to Germany from the UK in 2023
It’s essential to take advantage of the first 90 visa-free days in Germany to plan for accommodation. There are numerous options, such as buying and renting, depending on your long-term plans and financial capability.
The UK has a double taxation agreement with Germany; hence, you don’t need to pay income taxes in both countries. On registering your German address, after entering Germany, you’ll get an ID tax number ‘Steueridentifikationsnummer’ from the Tax Office, which you’ll use when in Germany.
In Germany, it’s mandatory to have health insurance. As a UK citizen, you can acquire it in Germany by:
- Joining the public health care insurer ‘Krankenkasse’
- Join a private healthcare scheme
- Using your UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
- Use your UK insurance by registering with form S1
Moving to Germany from the UK without a job
As a British citizen, you don’t need a job offer before traveling to Germany, but you need a job offer to receive a residence permit.
You can move from the UK to Germany if unemployed by applying for a job-seeker or self-employed visa.
- A job-seeker visa – allows you to stay in Germany for longer than 90 days and look for employment; upon finding the job, you can apply for a work permit.
- A self-employment visa suits someone looking to start a venture in Germany. There is also a Freelance visa dedicated to freelancers.
Where to find jobs in Germany
Once in Germany with a job seeker visa, you can find all jobs in Germany in the following ways:
1. Searching on company websites
Checking a company’s website is perfect if you are already considering a specific company. Many German companies publish open vacancies on their website in sections referred to as “Vakanzen,” “Karriere,” or “Stellenangebote.”
Medium-sized and small companies in Germany usually have their websites in German, but it would help to check them out as they have lower competition. Most big international companies will advertise in German and English, but the competition is pretty high.
Some of the most famous German companies among international employees include Volkswagen, Adidas, Mercedes, Siemens, Aldi, Bayer, BASF, and BMW.
2. Visiting job websites
3. Checking the newspaper
You can check the German newspapers as they publish job vacancies nationwide in their weekend issues.
4. Contacting a local employment agency(Agentur für Arbeit)
Employment agencies in Germany are aware of job vacancies even before their advertisement. It would help to work with an employment agency near your area to make your job search easier.
5. Attending job fairs (Job Messe)
Each city typically has regular job fairs at universities or fair halls in Germany. Attending these fairs is advisable, as they may help you make direct contact with companies of interest.
Self-employment visa in Germany for UK citizens
You can start a business in Germany and apply for a self-employment visa. Freelancers can apply for a special visa dedicated to freelancing activities.
To be granted a self-employment visa in Germany, you’ll need to:
- Prove that you can financially support yourself
- Prove the business will fulfill a need in Germany and benefit the country’s economy
- Show a valid business plan
- Show evidence of business funding
- Prove you have the relevant experience
If you are over the age of 45, you will need to show proof of your pension provision.
If you are a freelance worker, you can also apply for a residence permit for freelancers (Freelancer visa). To qualify, your profession must be recognized as a liberal in Germany, e.g., science, engineering, arts, teaching, professional writing, doctors, dentists, and lawyers.
Can you hold a British and German passport after Brexit?
Germany doesn’t allow dual citizenship; those who wish to acquire German citizenship must renounce their existing citizenship.
Before Brexit, the UK was exempted from Germany’s dual nationality restriction as it was a member of the EU. However, with the UK exiting the EU, as a UK citizen, you automatically lose your UK citizenship upon acquiring German citizenship.
Suppose you were naturalized or applied for naturalization in Germany before the end of the Brexit transitional period.
In that case, you don’t lose your UK citizenship or need a retention permit. To acquire German citizenship after 1st January 2021, you will automatically lose your UK citizenship.